Tips For Traveling With Brachycephalic Breeds (AKA Snub-Nosed Pets)
Who doesn't love a smooshy face on a dog? Boxers, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, even Himalayan cats have that cute little smooshed nose. But these animals are riskier to fly due to their different respiratory systems. The AVMA says these animals still have all the same anatomical parts as their longer snouted friends, but their anatomy must fit into a more compact space: sinuses, soft palate, nostrils, hard palate, nasal passages. These animals have a harder time breathing and regulating body temperature on a regular basis. Add to that, the stress that travel can cause and the climate of where you're traveling to and from and this could be risky. We have some tips to make sure you're doing your part to keep your snubbie safe during travel:
1. Talk to your veterinarian. It's important that if a snub nosed animal is going to fly, that they be otherwise healthy. Overweight pets carry a higher risk, as do pets with medical conditions or elderly animals. If your pet is overweight, it's a good idea to get him or her back in shape before travel. It's hard to resist those hungry eyes, but it's for their own safety.
2. TRAVEL CRATE, TRAVEL CRATE, TRAVEL CRATE. If you have an 18 lb Pug, the same size as an 18lb Schnauzer, you're going to want the crate that's built for the Border Collie. You want the one that's twice as tall as your dog. Your pet's crate should look like an apartment - the larger the crate, the more ventilation there will be throughout and the more air circulating around your pet, the more efficiently they can breathe. Please consult with your representative before purchasing a crate.
3. Acclimate your pet to his or her travel crate. Is your Boxer food motivated? Feed him daily in his crate. Is your Pug not at all food motivated and refusing to go in? Take the top off, throw treats and toys in there and make it a happy place. Add the top once she gets used to the bottom. Do this the very second you know you'll be moving. We want as much experience in those crates as possible, making it their happy place. Never punish using the crate- it's not a place for them to go after they've eaten your shoe- only positive vibes surrounding the crate.
4. Inside the crate should be minimal items. Maybe a towel or thin sheet would suffice, but no thick blankets, no toys, bones, etc. We don't want your pet wrapping himself up in a thick blanket and overheating and we don't want her choking on a toy. We also need to keep all the ventilation holes clear of any bedding. Water bowls are also very important. You want LARGE water bowls. We always fill our client's pet's bowls with ice cubes. This way they melt slowly during their trip and all the water can be drunk at once. Also, freezing the water directly in the bowl can cause the water bowls to crack and leak. Something like this would work: Crate Water Bowl
5. Hiring a professional who knows what airline to use is also key. We only work with the best airlines and we know which ones will accept a snubbie and which ones will not. We know what climate is safe for your pet to travel in and what isn't. We know what temperature it must be below in order for your pet to travel and we can monitor your pet along the way. We work with lots of great airlines, all of whom have restrictions of some sort which can be hard to navigate: Lufthansa, KLM, British Airways, Qantas, Air New Zealand, United, Delta, Swiss Air, Alaskan, just to name a few. We may even suggest a long drive to get to a different origin airport, just to catch a safer flight.
It's safe to say that Pets with Passports doesn't recommend taking your Pug or Himalayan cat with you, just to visit your parents for a week in India, or to study abroad for 2 months. We have performed hundreds of safe moves for Brachycephalic pets, so it can be very safe and uneventful. But you do not want to take that risk if your travels are short. If you and the kids are moving to England for 3 years on assignment, it makes sense to move the family pet with you and we'd love to help. If you are retiring to Costa Rica, we'd be happy to send your Pug down to you. Consulting Pets with Passports is your first step to finding out if your move is even doable for your snubbie and if it's safe. Pets with Passports will always be upfront with you about the risk, but also the reward of bringing your pet with you to your new home.
(This meatloaf of a Bullie moved from Texas to Sao Paulo. Notice his extra-large crate and water bowls full of ice. He was ready for his trip!)