Best Buy: Amazon.co.uk
Price: approx. £22
Amazon average rating: 5 out of 5
My rating: 9 out of 10
I must admit, I purchased this travel cot for our Indy over a year ago, but refrained from giving my review as we did not take our Indy out and about as much as we would have liked due to our own health issues, before our Indy’s health started deteriorating. But with our latest journeys to the referral centre for Indy’s cancer treatment, I have had many opportunities for Indy to try and test this travel cot, and I feel satisfied that this is the best dog car carrier you can find on the market for Borders.
Prior to the travel cot
Prior to Indy sustaining his back injury a year ago, we had always driven him in our car sitting at the back and strapped to the seat belt by his collar. This was an ok way to go about if one of us sat next to him. However at times, when travelling with my Indy on my own, I noticed that if I had to break suddenly, Indy may fall forward on the leg room in front of the passenger seats. Nothing major has ever happened as such, as these were the back seats we were talking about. Nevertheless, I always thought this was not good for him – or for me, as I would get worried he may have hurt himself, and would quickly find somewhere to stop to make sure he was alright. And that’s when the search for the best dog carrier for cars started.
A travel cage was needed
After Indy hurt his back, it became indispensable for us to have him as still as possible whenever we drove him to the vet for check ups. The vet had also advised that we purchase a cage to have him rest indoors as much as possible, so as for his back to avoid as much movement as possible – just as it would have been advised to us humans.
The next step therefore was for us to buy one of the bog standard metal cages, which Indy however took really warmly too. Padded with blankets and bed spread, Indy seemed to find it rather reassuring to spend hours inside his cage – as if he had associated that when resting inside the cage, his back also found respite from the pain.
We therefore started using the metal cage for our drives as well. But, the cage, which was a medium size, ended up becoming too big for Indy in the car. It was too bulky inside the car, and it left too much space for Indy to be shaken about during our drives. We needed something more contained and suitable to Indy’s size.
Amazon was the answer
We shopped around. I was looking for something light weight to carry, foldable and the right size for Indy and for our car. And Amazon came with the answer: the Smallwise Portable Folding Pet Travel Carrier, or as I call it, the best dog carrier for cars!!!
Smallwise Pet Travel Carrier features
- Lightweight and portable – I have already mentioned that the carrier is portable. Weighing only no more than 1kg , the carrier is made of nylon material, hence very light to carry. It comes in blue or red, and in 3 sizes, medium, large and extra large. For Indy we purchased the medium size, which is 60cm x 42cm x 42cm, and initially we thought it may be too small for Indy as we were used to the bigger metal cage. However we soon realised that, whilst Indy can stand when inside it, and gives him freedom of movement to find the most comfortable position to sit or lay down, it does not leave him too much space to be shaken about by the movement of the car, especially when the movement may be sudden, like a sudden break.
- Portable – When receiving this travel cot, you will find that it needs assembling. However instructions are very easy to follow. And the assembling is extremely easy too, so much so that I remember putting it together without any need to follow the instructions included.
- Sturdy – The internal frame that holds the carrier upright is made of plastic tubes. You may be thinking this may render the carrier not steady enough. In fact the carrier is extremely sturdy, and as I say, protective of your dog.
- Air windows and handy bag compartments – Smallwise Pet Travel Carrier has windows on all sides and on the roof to allow ventilation for your dog as well as light to come through. And your dog will be able to see through too!
- Washable – and last but not least, the carrier has a removable padded fluffy cushion at the bottom to make it more comfortable for your dog, and which can be easily washed in warm water. But also, the whole carrier can be easily wiped clean with a moist wipe.
The only negative aspect for me
Admittedly, I have not tried hand carrying Indy inside the carrier, as the bottom of the carrier does not have a rigid tray, but is soft. For this reason, I believe if you need to hand carry your dog, you are probably better off looking for a hard plastic carrier.
When we needed to carry Indy as he could not walk, we would always hold him and put him inside the carrier, which was already placed on the seat of the car, rather than putting him inside the carrier indoors and then walk the carrier to the car with Indy inside it. You would possibly be able to do so if your dog is of smaller and lighter size. But I do not believe the soft bottom of the carrier could hold the average 7-8kg weight of a Border.
For dogs, but not only
This carrier has rightly been renamed by Amazon as a pet carrier. As I mentioned, the carrier in the medium size is most suitable for dogs of small and medium size – but not any bigger than Borders. For bigger dogs, you may want to consider the larger or extra large sizes.
However, this travel cot is deemed most suitable for cats, rabbits and of course for puppies. And naturally these are the sizes of pets that you can most probably also hand carry inside this carrier!
OK, as we dog owners all know, when it comes to dog accessories, shops try to inflate prices as dog accessories are deemed as luxury items, not essential.
Nevertheless Amazon seems to remember that it is essential that safety is maintained for your dog when you have no alternative but to drive him or her to places, such as the vet’s.
Amazon has kept their price quite contained, in my opinion, at a reasonable figure of £22 with free delivery (price correct at time of publication).
I believe this figure is quite reasonable for the product you get. Yes, admittedly there may be cheaper carriers on the market, but they may not offer the benefits of the Smallwise carrier.
Then again, there are certainly other carriers on the market, which are much dearer. And yes, they may offer the sterdiness of strong hard plastic or metal, but they do not offer the portability as a main feature of the Smallwise carrier, which sees the safety of your dog as paramount concern for any dog owner.
Why is it so important to use a travel carrier for your dog
But let me tell you how important it is for your dog, or any other pet you may carry in your car, to be restrained whilst you drive. Let me quote Rule 57 of the UK Highway Code:
When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.
When searching in pet shops or online for safety devices to restrain your dog in the car, indeed one of them may be a harness with and extension to strap him or her to the seat belt of your car. And indeed that is what we used with our Indy for many years. But we came to the realisation, and not one minute too soon, that such devices are not suitable for all dogs. A harness may be suited to bigger dogs, or to dogs of Indy’s size when in smaller cars, hence with less room left for your dog to be pushed and shoved from side to side when the car is in motion. However, if the dog is agile and curious enough, as Borders are, there is still the possibility and danger that he or she may try and stretch to reach out to you whilst you are driving, therefore distracting you from your driving. Which is very dangerous!!!
In addition – but I do not know whether this is legal requirement in UK – it is deemed that it is equally dangerous to allow your dog to sit in the passenger seat next to the driver’s seat. It is deemed that, not only this will make it easier for the dog to distract the driver, but that, should the airbag be actioned by a sudden impact of the car, the strength at which the airbag is ejected could potentially suffocate your dog, or cause him or her serious harm.
A travel carrier, ideally positioned on the back passenger seat, is the solution if you want to avoid any of this and if you want to protect your dog and yourself from any harmful driving.
First of all, having learnt our lesson more than once, I would say having a pet carrier for your dog when travelling by car is essential. But if you are looking for a safe and protective environment for your dog when driving, whilst being able to move your carrier from your passenger seat to the booth of your car easily, then look no further: