Like identification tags, carriers are an obvious necessity for traveling with a pet. Yet, you ought to evaluate the kennel you have and determine whether it's suitable for an extended trip -- especially if your itinerary includes flying. First, check the carrier's doors. How secure are they? When you crate your dog or cat for a quick outing, does the animal chew or scratch on the door? Has it ever successfully escaped? If so, it could be time to invest in a new carrier. Grated metal doors will be the most secure and chew-proof. Determined pets might eventually work their teeth through plastic ones. Carriers should also have plenty of ventilation. The windows or air openings shouldn't be large enough that a pet could shimmy its way out, though.
Planning to fly with your pet? The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) warns against companies that tout their kennel as airline-approved. While most airlines won't allow wheeled carriers on board, there are no pre-approved types of carriers [source: USDA]. Just opt for the strongest and most comfortable one for your pet. Pet travel rules differ among airlines, and you can contact them individually for their specifications.