Risks of air travel

Brachycephalic breeds

Brachycephalic (short snout) breeds are generally at greater risk of heat stress when compared to dogs and cats with a normal muzzle length. The typical flat snout of brachycephalic animals causes narrowing or obstruction of air and oxygen passage through the airways to the lungs, called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). Animals with BOAS can’t breathe normally, and this significantly compromises their ability to cope with stress and raised temperatures.

The ability of cats and dogs to maintain normal body temperature and thermo-regulate is closely related to the respiration process. Dogs, for example, use panting (evaporative cooling) as a means of expelling heat from their bodies. Dogs rely on normal air flow through their respiratory tract to do this effectively.

Abnormal brachycephalic anatomy makes it difficult for these animals to adequately thermo-regulate and oxygenate sometimes even under normal conditions. When placed under additional stressors such as exercise, stressed/excited or placed in an environment with high temperatures or inadequate ventilation they may be unable to adequately compensate and this can result in over-heating, collapse and in some cases, death.

For the above reasons owners and vets should ensure that your pet is in good health condition before traveling so that all risks are minimized as much as possible.

As cargo agents it is our duty to provide pet owners with all the information needed when organizing the air transport of snub-nosed breeds.

When dealing with snub-nosed breeds our responsibilities are limited to:

  • Informing the client of all risks related to transporting snub-nosed breeds via air
  • Choosing an airline that is pet-friendly and that accepts snub-nosed breeds
  • Requiring a Health Certificate that certifies the pet is in good health conditions to fly
    (it is the vet’s responsibility to determine wether the pet is fit-to-fly)
  • Ensuring correct dimensions of the travel crate
    (crates need to be 1 size larger for snub-nosed breeds to ensure enough air flow inside the crate)
  • Choosing the best time to travel (during the warmer months or if relocating to/from warm countries - if there are multiple flight options, we will request a time of the day in which temperatures are lower)

Even though there will always be risks involved, if planned carefully and if all precautions are taken correctly, relocating a snub-nosed breed pet can be safe and stress-free.

In the past years we have had the pleasure of assisting hundreds of families relocate with their brachycephalic dogs and cats, and we plan to continue doing so!

Short/snub-nosed dog breeds include:

  • English and French Bulldog
  • Boston Terrier
  • Mastiff and Boxer
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Japanese Chin
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pekingese
  • Chow Chow
  • Pug
  • Shar-Pei
  • Shih Tzu

Short/snub-nosed cat breeds include:

  • Exotics
  • Himalayan
  • Persian
  • Chinchilla