The whys and wherefores
of pet strollers

Why are you buying a stroller?

The first consideration when choosing a pet stroller is to think about why you are buying it. Is it primarily, or exclusively, for high energy sprints or casual strolls? Different types of strollers meet different needs. Whilst runners will probably want a jogging-style (three-wheel) stroller, the more casual user will almost certainly prefer a pet stroller with four wheels.

Would you like to be able to remove the carrier from the stroller, put a strap over your shoulder and carry it that way? Or perhaps carry it as a hand-grip? Do you think you might want to put the carrier in the car with the pet inside so that it can be used as a pet car seat?

Detachable or collapsible

Let's consider the basic differences in functionality between dog strollers with detachable carry bags and fixed carry bags.

To prove to his friends that such things exist, Michael Elkins of Bossoms Boatyard Ltd took a moment out from selling boats to visit the stand at Beale Park Boat Show and pose with a 'Little' go-pet thrown casually over his shoulder. Bet he didn't expect to end up with his piccie on the internet!

When we say 'detachable' carry bags, these are the pet stroller products that donít totally collapse with the carry bag left in place. You remove the pet-carrying compartment (with your pet still safely inside) before folding down the stroller frame, providing your pet with a safe place to stay while you transfer them from one place to another. Without removing them from the security of the carry bag you can even fit the carry bag into a car seat. On the other hand, the 'fixed' carry bag stroller has a carry bag which is fixed in position; the pet is removed before the whole stroller, including the carry bag, is folded. This kind of pet stroller is very useful for frequent travellers, but it does mean that the pet will be spending a large amount of time without any kind of restraint.

So in summary, 'detachable' means your pet stays safe in the carry bag whilst the frame is folded down, whilst 'fixed' means you need to remove the pet from the carry bag to fold the frame down. (Both 'Little' and 'Large' Go-pets are 'detachable'.)

If you are not sure what all your uses may be, it's probably best to get one of the 'detachable' units - that way you'll have everything covered. At the top end of the range of 'detachable' units are 'travel systems'; these are strollers expressly designed to be completely multi-functional.

Size matters!

There are generally two sizes of strollers. The smaller sizes of strollers will accommodate pets up to maximum of 10 lbs (4.5 kilos) whilst the larger strollers can accommodate up to 30 lbs (14.0 kilos). In addition, double strollers - sometimes with the two compartments alongside each other, at other times with one compartment on top of the other - are also available. Don't buy a bigger stroller than you need - you could use the large one for a small dog, but why push around the larger unit if the size isn't needed. 'Detachable' strollers with smaller carrier bags may come complete with a range of carrying handles; larger carrier bags will have a single grab-handle, enabling movement from one position to another (for example, from stroller frame to car seat) but doesn't encourage carrying over distances.

If you have concerns about whether your pet will fit into a particular stroller, mark out on the floor a rectangle equal to the length and width of the pet stroller, place your pooch in the area and assess if there's sufficient room for your pet to be comfortable. Remember that the area will be smaller than it appears when walls are added! Measuring the height of your pet (to shoulders and to top of head) and comparing these measurements against the stroller's published height will give you a good idea of how comfortably your pet will fit in the stroller.

Make sure that your pet will be able to stand, sit, curl up and turn around in the stroller. Also check that your pet's weight is within the maximum weight supported by the stroller. (If the supplier doesn't list the maximum supported weight, be wary!) Doing this basic homework prior to purchasing will avoid the disappointment - and hassle - of an incorrect purchase.

And don't forget that pets - particularly dogs - can change shape! Watch out for your petís weight increasing, and never forget that puppies and kittens grow. Fast! And as they grow they will gain weight. It is really important that you monitor your petís size and weight.

For a stroller height to suit pretty much everyone, make sure you get one with a handle height of around 37 inches. Strollers which have a handle height of only 33 or 34 inches may leave you kicking the back of the stroller every time your foot goes forward. Not much fun!

In general, you want a pet stroller that is both safe and comfortable for you and your pet. You will need a stroller that is easy to open, manoeuvre, fold and store.

Look for the lightest stroller you can for the job you need it to do. Heavy strollers can quickly become a hassle to deal with. Make sure it's light enough to, for example, lift onto a bus. Nevertheless, the metal frame should be strong and stable. Look for seams that are neatly welded. Avoid any type of pet stroller which has sharp edges or small parts that may come loose. You should look for a tip-resistant or bottom-heavy stroller to avoid tipping in both the open and closed position.

How many pets?

Having determined your primary stroller use, decide if you'll be using the stroller for one, two or more pets. There are several varieties of multiple strollers that create individual spaces for multiple pets. Pets that are used to sharing each others' company can travel together in one larger stroller. Assess the combined weight of the pets and compare it against the weight restrictions on each stroller that you consider.

Quality counts

Choose a stroller where all the components are made from the highest quality materials. The better the materials the easier it will be to use, wash and store. Regular washing of your dog stroller will avoid long term staining, besides ensuring a clean, hygienic environment for your dog. Make sure the carrier bag base is easily removable and machine-washable.

These days, pet strollers and carriers are becoming a necessity of pet owners. With so much demand, several online stores release the same product with the same brand name - but only one is the original. Be aware of pirate pet strollers. They may superficially appear to be the same as the original but they will have been made from inferior components to an inferior standard; there will be a huge difference in performance and stability between the original and copies. Look for quality and authentic brands only. Copies have a much higher return rate. As many wholesalers of these copies are reluctant to stand by these producst, so in turn many retailers don't permit returns.

It also needs to be made of durable, high-quality materials to prevent excessive wear and tear - and to deter your pet from chewing and scratching.

Not everyone has a bottomless bank account to spend on their pets so have a clear figure in your mind of the maximum you want to spend. Luckily, there are pet strollers available at a wide range of price points. Whilst you can't always be sure you're getting what you pay for, you can be more sure that you won't be getting something that you don't pay for! (Think about it!)

Don't be deceived by the price.

There are numerous pet stroller retailers on the web offering attractive prices - beware hidden charges! Before making any purchases, read their return policies and shipping charges. Take care to establish that there is no opportunity for further charges to be hidden at the point of purchase. If possible, email - or even better, phone - them with a question or two.

Ensure that your supplier has stock available for fast shipping. (That could be your test question for them!)

Count the wheels!

The number of wheels makes a difference in the mobility of a stroller - hence the reason that jogging strollers feature three wheels instead of four. And if you're going for four wheels, there's even more control if you go for six wheels (each front wheel is actually a pair of wheels), assisting stability and manoeuvrability.

The road conditions you can expect to encounter may influence your choice of stroller. Basically, the smaller the wheels, the more difficult it is to navigate over bumpy ground - or even cracked pavements.

In any event, you should avoid strolling around in rocky and jagged areas.

To be safe, only consider strollers with a minimum wheel diameter of 5.5 inches - these will give your pet a safer and more comfortable ride (and, over bumpy ground, be easy on your hands and wrists!).

If you're choosing a four-wheeler, make sure that all four wheels touch the ground with equal pressure - no rocking or tilting.

Things to look for

You will need a stroller which has the ability to enclose your pet without restricting air-flow. Most strollers on the market will have this feature.

Make sure that your new stroller comes with a parking brake.

The stroller should have a restraint strap or ring sewn into the inside that can be attached to your pet's collar or harness to prevent unintentional escape - especially important with particularly active pets.

It would seem short-sighted to select a pet stroller without a parent tray mounted on the stroller handle. (Got to keep that Starbucks somewhere!) Some strollers now have a 'secrecy' cover over the tray's compartment, so a purse or keys can be out of sight, and out of mind, of passers-by. 

The seat cover and riding compartment should be made of high-quality fabric, substantially padded and should be securely stitched into place.

Look for an 'easy access' pet stroller. You want to make sure that you are comfortable getting your pet in and out of the stroller. The easiest access carriers are those with multiple entrances/exits (you never know which way around your pet is going to be!)

A viewing canopy on top easily let's you keep an eye on your pet. Otherwise, ensure the side walls have generous viewing areas. It's helpful if viewing areas have drop-down panels for when inclement weather descends. 

Aside from providing your pet with ultimate comfort, pet strollers with smaller carrier bag also have a compartment where you can easily place and carry, for example, groceries while enjoying the day.

Make sure that when folded, your stroller will have enough clearance to carry it in your vehicle or store it in whatever storage area you have.

Two's company!

Basically, pet stroller products are created to provide security and comfort to your pets.

If youíre always on the go, you can take your pet with you wherever and whenever you go without the hassle otherwise experienced of transporting a pet. But always remember that strolling around is a lot better if the pet is in a cool and convenient stroller where he can rest and take a nap when tired.

Some pet owners would choose to routinely take their pets with them to events such as family outings, picnics, festivals and other events. Taking their pets could mean exposing them to crowds, often causing them confusion and possibly exposing them to danger. Having a stroller available means your pet can be part of the event in complete safety. And the stroller will also keep him warm and dry if the weather is as it so often is in the UK!

Wherever you go, whenever you go, take your dog with you in your stroller. You no longer need to leave your dog behind - spend some quality time with him while you're doing your chores.

Take your pet with you to more places than you've previously done - enjoy more time together.

When visiting relatives, the stroller offers your pet an instant, familiar temporary home for a rest (or even a nap) when the kids have become too tiresome.

Take your dog to work one or more days a week. The stroller makes it easier to transport your dog from the car to the office, creates a confined space for the dog when itís needed, and provides a safe and familiar place for napping.

A stroller simply gives you more quality time with your pet. It lets you take your pet to more places than a leash or even a pet carrier. With more workplaces, stores and restaurants becoming dog-friendly, a responsible dog owner with her dog in a stroller will always be welcome.

If you and your pet stroll with a lot of items - toys, blanket, water bottles, snacks, poop bags - consider a pet stroller with a large basket for the storage and transport of these items.

Shopping is always more fun when you have your best friend along. A stroller makes a visit to the shopping centre even better for you and your furry friend.

If you're using the time to work out, run or walk as far and as fast as you like with your dog alongside. When your pet's had enough let him ride! You can continue your workout while your dog takes a rest in the stroller.

Style matters

Appearance will be more important to some buyers than others and this will be a personal thing. Some strollers can be very basic in design. If you're happy with that, then go for it - there are bargains to be had! But if you want something with a little flash and flair then get one that fits into that category. What is your favourite colour and style of stroller? If several meet your needs in terms of size, weight bearing capacity and quality (and price!), just pick the one that makes you happiest. After all, your pet only cares about being with you so if you're happy, your pet's happy.

Maybe you want one to match the colour of your car or the colour of your hair. Maybe you want one that's just unbelievably cute. Whatever the case, they're out there somewhere.

Some pet lovers just want to make sure their pampered pet has the best of everything - including the latest fashion accessory. A baby pink stroller would be the perfect compliment to the rhinestone tiara, leather bomber jacket and taffeta ball gown. Who cares if it's only used every once in a while!

Age matters

The pet strollers and carriers are ideal for aging dogs - and young puppies as well. A pet stroller allows older dogs and cats the extra mobility that can be needed to keep them happy and healthy. They are able to enjoy the fresh air and time with you long after their little legs have given out.

Older pooches can be exhausted by the shortest of walks; by the time they've walked to the park they're too tired to play! Take your dog in a stroller and watch him enjoy himself when you get there!

Or on long walks, using the dog stroller your pooch can pop in and out at will, resting in the stroller when he chooses!

Dog strollers are a great aid not only for older dogs but for older people too, offering an additional method of support and thus enabling more lengthy walks to be undertaken.


It may be too much to take multiple dogs along on a leash but when you have a stroller, the more the merrier! A double stroller or large single stroller can make a multi-dog outing much more pleasurable for dog and owner alike.

Owners of several small dogs often find that itís easier and calmer taking them out in a stroller. Everyone goes in one direction!

If you have a big dog and a little dog, you can give the big one a good long walk without tiring out the smaller one, who can opt in and out of the stroller at will.

Cats can be difficult to walk on leads - if you don't get them into harnesses at a young age, some cats will never adjust to a harness. A cat stroller is a great way for cats to get some fresh air.

Weather or not

In severe weather, ice can damage dog's paws and road salt can damage dog's paw pads. City dwellers may have to negotiate all kinds of debris on the pavements. A stroller keeps your dog clean and away from broken glass, chemicals, or other hazards which may have accumulated on the pavements. A pet stroller gets your dog to the soft ground of the parks without inconvenience.  Dog owners who live in large cities will welcome the way strollers keep their dogs from running into the street, or getting wrapped up by their leashes with other pedestrians.

Comfort counts

The stroller will offer a relaxing and comfortable backrest, giving your pet the assurance of a safe, secure, environment.

Safety first

Pet strollers can also help your pet avoid any unwanted diseases and germs that may cause irritations on their fur. Pet strollers can easily be sanitised so pet owners donít have to worry about lice and other parasites that might infested their petís fur.

On trips to the vet, it's a reasonable assumption that your dog has a problem. How much more convenient than walking, or you carrying, is a comfortable pet stroller! And when you get there you don't have to worry about your pet picking up germs from the waiting room floor left by other animals!

Place a convalescing pet in the stroller for comfortable, stress-free transport to the car and hospital - without interference from other animals.

Pets who are recovering from surgery or injuries, or who have become disabled, enjoy getting fresh air even if they canít walk very far. It stimulates them to get some sun, sample new smells and see new surroundings. A stroller keeps them comfortable, and theyíre happy to be able to go outside.

And if your transporting a litter of puppies, pop them in a stroller and worry no more about mass escapes from the car or the surgery.

When not in use, to avoid unwanted damage you should store your pet stroller in a secure place. That way it won't be damaged - or be the cause of accidents.

Trimming your petís claws will lessen the possibility of them damaging or getting stuck into the fabric - especially important if there are net windows in your stroller.

Comfort for you too!

People are starting to use pet strollers instead of carriers. Theyíre easier on your back, shoulders and neck, and many shops and stores appreciate dog owners having dogs completely enclosed.

Riding in any form of transport has never been easier than with a dog stroller. Easily transfer your dog from one place to another without worrying about escape in strange and dangerous places.

And where water is concerned, the stroller can transfer a pet safely around docks or onto boats. Some pets can be disturbed by choppy water. Your petís anxiety will be reduced when he has the reassurance of his carrier around him.

Aggressive dogs, often in a pack and not on leads, can pose a threat to your small dog or cat. The stroller creates an immediate protective barrier around your pet.

If changes in climatic conditions mean you have to move your pet urgently, or any other time you need to move your pet quickly, itís much easier in a stroller. Keep a few comforts at hand - a familiar blanket, perhaps a toy or two - and your pet's anxiety will be dramatically reduced.

Tips for encouraging your pet

Most people find their pets take to pet strollers immediately, but it isn't always the case. Here are some easy tips to help your pet with his or her new pet stroller:

Having locked the wheels (don't even think about buying a stroller without locking wheels!) try leaving the pet stroller open and available to your pet with some treats inside for your pet to discover. Many pets will begin to treat the stationary stroller as a bed.

Having allowed your pet to get acclimatised from the safety of indoors, as a staging post before going out of doors try wheeling your pet to an open door or window, creating an association between the stroller and the outside environment.

Reward your pet with a treat the first couple of times you use the stroller.

Start off with a few quiet trips. Although pet strollers are great for taking pets to crowded or hectic environments, plan your first couple of trips to nearby destinations that are quieter and at times that are less busy. Let your pet get used to the new stroller experience without any hustle and bustle. That will come soon enough!

A familiar blanket placed inside the stroller will provide a sense of safety and, when a degree of privacy is required, will allow your pet to hide away.

Once accustomed to the pet stroller, only put your pet in the stroller when your going outside. Your pet should associate the pet stroller with the enjoyment of being out of doors rather than with being confined indoors.

Give your pet a little time to adjust. As with any change to a pet's habits, be sure to give your cat or dog some time to get used to the change. It would be extremely unusual for a pet to not eventually get comfortable and enjoy the stroller trips as a treat; but beware they don't take over ownership of it from you!

And finally:

Whilst pet strollers bring innumerable advantages, we nevertheless want your dog to stay as healthy as possible! So please use your pet stroller responsibly, and ensure your pet receives an appropriate level of exercise.

Last updated: 28 January 2010

All content of is © Ian Evans 2010