We need them. We hate them. We use them especially for our feline friends. They come in particularly handy when transporting small pets. We curse when we have to shell out good money for them. Yes, I’m talking about pet carriers.

If you have a diabetic pet, the odds are you’ve taken your pet to your veterinary clinic so often you could likely recite the traffic route. Pet carriers make life easier when taking small pets to the clinic, particularly if your clinic is busy with lots of critters in the lobby.

How is it that some pets (particularly cats) know to get out of Dodge when they see the pet carrier come out of the garage? As a veterinarian, I recall numerous occasions when a scheduled appointment didn’t show up because the owner “couldn’t find the cat.” If you do manage to nab your sweetie to put him in the carrier, he somehow seems to sprout extra appendages to fight your attempts to get him into the carrier! If that is your experience, I’d suggest occasionally leaving the pet carrier in the home with pet treats or serving meals in the carrier to balance out the good experiences with the bad. Today our focus will be the various types of pet carriers.

Carriers that have an opening from the top are wonderful. Just as you had trouble getting your pet into the carrier at home, once in the exam room they don’t want to come out! Cats are especially clever about not coming out the front of the carrier at the clinic. I swear some cats are so smart they are really people in cat suits. The standard plastic carriers often come attached by nuts and bolts. If you know your pet gets nervous at the vet clinic, you might even get one with the pop up latches that allow easy removal of the top.

Collapsible cloth carriers are particularly nice for airline travel so that your small pet can travel in the cabin with you. They are also more comfortable to carry if they have a shoulder strap. A Google search will yield all kinds of fancy contraptions, some even come with wheels. Your pet can peek out of the soft mesh and yet be close to you. And these days it isn’t uncommon to see a reality TV starlet wannabe show up for her vaccine appointment with her small dog in a designer handbag.

If you don’t wish to shell out the big bucks for a sturdy forever carrier, you might simply get a cardboard carrier. They can be utilitarian with no design whatsoever for a few bucks. Or they can be decorated like the “Cosmic Pet Shuttle”. That one always makes me smile.

Live traps are more for the good-hearted souls who trap feral and stray animals for spay/neuter/vaccination. They are very effective, but sometimes you feel like you need an engineering degree to figure them out. They are usually wire, so placing a towel or newspaper at the bottom can prevent the animal’s toes from getting squished.

If you are traveling with a larger dog, you might let your pet ride free in the car but bring along a folding crate for use at the destination. If you get a carrier/crate for your puppy, be sure to get one that will suit him once he has attained his full size. Many dogs feel safe in their crate and may simply hang out in the kennel with the door open. A friend of mine has a lovely wooden end table that is also a dog kennel for her Maltese. It even has snap-on food and water containers. These days, there are many options from which to choose.

NOTE: Consult your Veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.