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Crates vs. Carriers

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Dog sleeping in crate

Crates vs. Carriers

Crates and carriers are two of the smartest, most useful purchases you could possibly make during your time as a pet parent.

Now this might come as a surprise to some people. Two different purchases?

Crates and carriers are often used synonymously or interchangeably in the pet world. This is understandable since both of them fall under the category of “kennel,” which is any place that animals are kept. Both falling under the same general term, they are naturally going to be similar in a lot of aspects, but there are some key characteristics between the two that add distinction. 


Crates are kennels where your dog or cat can turn for a space that is all their own. Pet parents use these as a place to send their pets when they can no longer roam about, whether it’s for safety reasons, housebreaking, training, or bedtime. They’re extremely multifaceted products, as they serve so many purposes that could help in different aspects of your pet’s life.

A lot of people are hesitant to put their pets in a crate, or to “lock them up,” but if done in moderation and with appropriate reason, crates can actually help your companion to find that den-like space that they need away from the distractions of the household. Plus, your pet will learn to love the crate because it’s 100% theirs! 

This is why it’s important to select one that gives your furry friend all the space they need to move about in it. There should be enough room for them to turn and stretch, especially if they may be spending a lot of time in it, such as for naps and bedtime. Luckily, crates are made at all sizes to accommodate a range of breeds and ages. Crates should be located in a suitable part of the house, one with sufficient light and pleasant temperatures. 

When choosing a specific crate, keep in mind the exact purpose you are purchasing it for. This can help you determine which crate will best fulfill your intentions and circumstances. For example, wired cages are good for extra ventilation and as a simple everyday crate that stays in the house. The size of the crate depends on your pet’s size. Are they already fully grown or are they still in their puppy or kitten stages? You may need a larger crate that has dividers so that they can grow into them. If you travel a lot, the crate may need to be foldable or collapsible for ease of transportation and carrying.

Overall, you’ll know you found the right crate if it’s reliable and secure, complies with airline requirements, and is easy to clean (especially if metal or plastic).

Now that you know what crates are meant for, you can get even more specific with which type of crate material will work best for you and your pet.

Metal vs. Plastic

  • Metal (Wired)Dog standing in door of crate

Metal crates are made of one of the sturdiest, most durable materials. This means it’s reliable and can certainly hold your companion! Crates with proper latches, slides, clasps, and handles are hard to get out of, which is good for the escape artist pets that love to wriggle their way out of kennels.

They’re also wired. Having a wired metal crate allows a lot of air into your pet’s environment. This ensures that they can breathe properly and that the inside of the kennel doesn’t get too stuffy. Plus, they’ll always have a view of you, and you’ll always have a view of them. However, the openings of wired cages can be seen as a downside if you are trying to protect your pet from continuously cold temperatures, or would prefer them to not see you, as this might discourage whimpering or barking.

  • Hard Plastic

Hard plastic crates are still sturdy, but much lighter than metal crates, making them easy to shift around. They’re an enclosed, covered kennel that has only a few holes for ventilation, which makes it ideal for pets that appreciate their privacy and alone time. However, fewer openings for ventilation means your companion may get warmer quicker and odors are more likely to linger in the kennel. Hard plastic crates tend to look more appealing than metal crates. They come in neutral colors like gray, black, and beige, but also more standout colors like blue or green.


Carriers are excellent for transportation! You can take your pet along for any journey, whether by car or plane, with plastic or soft carriers. 

Many carriers made from tougher, sturdier material can be used as crates, especially for travel. They’re good for dogs of many ages and sizes. This is different from their softer counterparts, however, which should not be used as a crate since they are not always as secure or strong. The softer carriers are made from lighter materials that are more geared towards holding a cat or small to medium dog that weighs less. Some carriers are small enough that they can even be stowed underneath your seat during airline travel. 

Because carriers are specifically made for travel purposes, they have to be comfortable. Your pet will be sleeping, resting, and carried in this product for quite some time! So it should be as pleasant, cozy, and welcoming as possible. 

Make sure that the carrier also has all the features you need. For example, if you’re not one to lift, you may benefit from rolling carriers that work similar to a luggage with wheels. Your pet may require a carrier that has extra ventilation with holes or mesh for breathing room. You as a pet owner may have a more peaceful, sound mind with a carrier with a see through top or side so you can continuously check up on your pet. And most importantly, whether it’s a soft or hard carrier, make sure it’s a high quality material that can support the weight of your companion.

Both crates and carriers can be essential depending on you and your pet’s lifestyle. The kennel you choose all boils down to your pet’s size, traveling habits, personality traits, and the overall purpose for purchasing. But the most important goal to keep in mind is that it should be as comfortable and practical as your own household sofa or chair so that your pet learns to love it!

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