You need to consider several things when choosing a pet carrier. Besides its features, style, size, and price, you also have to choose between a hard carrier and a soft carrier. Both types of carriers serve their purpose — to keep your pet safe during travels — but one may be a better option depending on your lifestyle and your pet’s behavior.
Pet travel carriers are essential even if you don’t travel with your pet very often. Chances are, you’ll have to take your pet to the vet, and you’ll need something to keep them confined. Can you imagine how dangerous it can be for you and your pet if you let them wander in a moving car?
Hard vs. Soft Pet Carrier: The Main Differences
Citing the main differences between hard and soft pet carriers will help you choose one. This information is crucial, especially if you have never bought any travel pet carriers in the past.
Hard Pet Carriers
Also known as kennels, hard carriers are often built with plastic and are recommended for car travel rather than air travel. Below are some pros and cons of hard carriers:
- Hard pet carriers or pet kennels are easier to clean than soft-sided pet carriers. If your pet often makes a mess, simply wipe the insides of the carrier with a wet cloth. Additionally, your pet won’t likely do much damage to the interiors of a hand carrier with their claws or paws.
- Hard carriers are studier than soft carriers. Hard pet carriers are heavy-duty and don’t tip over or get damaged easily as small soft pet carriers might.
- Hand pet carriers are usually more secure because they come with a plastic or metal door, which is nearly impossible for your pet to open and sneak out of. If your pet loves to wander and run away whenever you’re out, a hand carrier might be a better option.
- Hard-sided pet carriers are bulky and not easy to carry around. This can cause inconvenience and stress, especially if you love to travel with your pet or plan to take them on a plane. In cases like these, an airline-approved soft-sided pet carrier is ideal.
- Because they’re bulky, hard-sided pet carriers are also harder to stow or store. This means you must allocate a lot of space when storing the carrier when not in use or when bringing it during trips.
- Hard-sided pet carriers can be uncomfortable for pets as they don’t come with any kind of padding. As mentioned, hard carriers are made from plastic — a material that’s too hard to sit and lie on and easily gets cold.
Soft Pet Carriers
As the name suggests, soft-sided pet carriers are constructed with softer materials, like fabric, mesh, and nylon. Below are a few pros and cons of soft-sided pet carriers:
- Soft dog carriers are lightweight. This is especially helpful if you’re fond of carrying your pet a lot.
- Soft carriers are more comfortable for your pets. Most soft-sided cat carriers today are designed with plenty of padding, allowing your feline friends to enjoy a comfortable and cozy space to sit and lie down for hours. Plus, many soft cat carriers are designed with breathable materials, like mesh, which lets fresh air in and improves your pet’s ventilation while being inside the carrier.
- Because soft carriers are made with flexible materials, they’re easier to store and transport than hard carriers. If you plan on bringing your dog onto a plane with you, a soft-sided dog carrier is the best choice.
- Soft-sided pet carriers are made with soft materials, which your pet can easily damage with their teeth, claws, or beak. This can shorten the lifespan of the carrier and will cause you to buy another.
- Softer materials usually mean lesser protection. If anything bumps or falls on the carrier, your pet will be at a higher risk of being injured.
- Soft-sided pet carriers are more challenging to clean. Unlike hard carriers, where you just need to wipe soiled areas with a cloth, you’ll need a washing machine to thoroughly clean soft carriers. Additionally, bad smells may stick longer in a soft carrier since they can soak deep into the fabric.
Which Pet Carrier is Right For You?
There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The right carrier for you isn’t always the right carrier for others and vice versa. The key here is to assess your own and your pet’s needs to determine which type of carrier will work best for your situation.
- How often do you travel with your pet?
- Are you planning to take them on all of your trips? Or are you going to buy a carrier solely for vet visits once or twice every year?
- Do you have plans to fly with your pet?
- Is there any chance that you’ll fly with your pet soon?
- What’s your pet’s personality like?
- Does your pet easily get anxious?
- Do they try to escape when in an enclosed space?
If you’re still unsure about which type of carrier to choose, consider our recommendations below.
Hard-sided carriers or pet kennel carrier are best for:
- Pets who love to wander and escape when placed in an enclosed space
- Pets who are destructive and messy
- Pets who are anxious about leaving the house, being outdoors, or traveling for hours
- Owners who want something sturdier and safer for their pets
- Owners who have plenty of storage space
Soft pet carriers are best for:
- Pets who are more behaved and don’t have accidents
- Pets who are used to or calmer when traveling
- Owners who want to fly with their pets
- Owners who want something more comfortable for their pets
- Owners who have limited storage space
Hopefully, this has been an easy-to-follow guide when it comes to choosing the perfect pet carrier. If you’re eyeing to buy a soft-sided pet carrier, Ibiyaya has got you covered. Check out our catalog and choose from our wide range of hard and soft pet carriers!