Cheap dog crates can do more than save you money - they may actually kill or injure your dog. Poorly constructed metal and plastic crates cause over 100 dog deaths every year due to cuts, infections and even strangulation. Before you waste your money and possibly your dog's life on a cheap crate, keep reading.

Not Air Certified

There's a reason most cheap dog crates aren't cleared for air travel - they're unsafe and not suited for air travel conditions. Typically, most air crates need to be easily opened and closed from the outside and provide the animal with enough ventilation and protection.

More important, a good carrier needs to be made from heavy-duty plastic. Last year, over 5 dogs were hurt after cheap plastic dog crates cracked because of pressure changes. The cracked and chipped plastic either cut or hit the animals. Obviously, their injuries were not noticed or treated until well after the plane landed.

Too Collapsible

Stay away from low-quality, wire crates that are collapsible. Numerous consumers have complained these crates do not hold up and can simply collapse on the animal without warning - a scenario that can be deadly for small puppies. While adult dogs typically won't be severely injured by a collapsed crate, being trapped for possibly hours is stressful and causes anxiety.

Not Enough Ventilation

Cheap dog crates that are made from plastic or fabric tend to not offer enough ventilation for your animal, making them feel trapped and as though they're not getting enough air. Several years ago, dogs in a California kennel were found dead after being kept in cheap, plastic kennels that were too small. The dogs suffocated.

Aside from asphyxiation, the other danger connected to poor ventilation in fabric or plastic dog cases is over-heating. A dog trapped inside a cheap crate for hours on a hot summer day can become dangerously dehydrated.

Buying a Good Crate

When buying a crate, look for one that's made from good materials, is big enough for your dog, has enough ventilation and is easily opened from the outside. If you purchase a wire crate, be sure to buy a crate mate to fit on the bottom.

Other Safety Considerations

Regardless of whether you're buying top-of-the-line or cheap dog crates, there are other safety factors to consider. For example, never put your dog in a crate while it's wearing a collar, as the collar can easily become caught on the wire. Also, always leave water and toys inside the crate and never, ever leave a dog alone or crated for more than 5 consecutive hours.