Traveling with Snub-Nosed Dogs or Cats

Snub-nosed pets need special care when travelingTraveling with a snub-nosed pet, whether in the car or in an airplane, can bring added risks that owners of these breeds should know about. These risks have brought on restrictions from many commercial airlines due to the number of snub-nosed dogs involved in incidents when flying in the cargo hold.

Which breeds are affected?

All snub-nosed or flat-faced breeds suffer with some degree of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). This is a condition that results from the foreshortening of the facial skeleton which is a mutation that is present in and required for the selective breeding of many dog breeds. The American Kennel Club identified the following breeds as being snub-nosed early on: Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Griffon Bruxellois, Japanese Chin, Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu. Of these breeds, Pugs, French Bulldogs and Bulldogs have been found to be most at risk from BOAS.

As studies on breeds with BOAS have become prevalent, other breeds have been identified to be at more moderate risk such as the Affenpinscher, Chow Chow, Lhasa Apso, Shar Pei, Tibetan Spaniel, Rottweiler, Staffordshire Terrier and Pomeranian, and many commercial airlines have also banned them from the cargo hold.

Affected cat breeds are Persian, Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair, as well as Netherlands Dwarf and Lionhead rabbits.

Why do we love them?

Why are these breeds so attractive to pet owners? Perhaps the flattened face takes on more human-like appearance? The bulging eyes that some breeds exhibit are more expressive? The snores remind us of our sleeping habits? Whatever the reason, snub-nosed breeds are in high demand, especially the French Bulldog which just took the place of the Labrador and the most popular breed.

Why is traveling risky for snub-nosed breeds and their crosses?

Because the length of the muzzle is so short in snub-nosed breeds, soft tissue blocks the airways in the nose and throat impeding airflow in dogs or cats at a young age and progressively worsens as the pet ages. Additionally, the condition is aggravated when the dog or cat is exercising or under stress as is the case when traveling. Increased respiratory efforts can lead to a collapse of the airway which is why owners of these breeds must take great care when transporting them.

A snub-nosed dog or cat will have a muzzle length less than half of its cranial length. This measurement is defined as the length from the occipital protuberance (crown of the head) to the stop (base, not tip, of the nose).

Generally, this condition is commonly but not exclusively accompanied by a thicker neck girth, nasal fold, wide chest, extended elbows, snorting, snoring and sleep apnea.

Studies have found that obesity will increase the degree that these breeds will suffer from BOAS. This is why it is really important to keep your pup at its ideal weight if it is to travel.

Crosses of these breeds can be similarly affected. Remember, it is not necessarily whether your pet is a purebred member of these breeds; it is the length of the muzzle and the presence of other snub-nosed characteristics that count.

What can owners of these breeds do to travel safely with their snub-nosed dogs and cats?

Obviously, ground transport is much safer than air transport for these breeds. If this is not possible, then consider the Queen Mary 2 if you need to get to Europe. If flying is the only alternative, then in-cabin is much preferred to cargo transport. If your snub-nosed dog or cat is too large to fly in the cabin and must fly in the cargo hold, then avoid summer months at all cost as higher temperatures increase the amount of breathing that your dog or cat must do to keep cool.

Hydration is incredibly important and can’t be stressed enough. Whether your snub-nosed dog or cat is traveling by car or in the air, it must have adequate hydration available to it.

If you are driving, keep the air conditioning running and the windows up so that the air in the vehicle is cool. Stop often and make sure to offer your pet water every time you stop.

If you are flying with your pet in the cabin, be sure and get a bottle of water after passing security and use a bottle top or ask for a glass of ice from the flight attendant. Try offering it to your pet by extending your hand in the carrier being sure not to let your pet escape.

If your pet is flying as air cargo, get the largest water bowl you can find to attach to the crate door, fill it with water the night before you leave and freeze it. You can find large pet crate water bowls by clicking here. You can also consider training your dog or cat to use a water bottle as well. Confirm that your airline will check your pet’s water bowl during layovers.

Be sure and plan ahead when you travel with a snub-nosed pet. Acclimating it to its carrier or crate will cause less stress on travel day and make it easier for both of you to enjoy your trip.

You can find more information about snub-nosed pet studies here.


Comments

Traveling with Snub-Nosed Dogs or Cats — 129 Comments

  1. Huan – we are not veterinarians and cannot comment on your first question. You need to ask your veterinarian. We did not see any airlines that fly out of HK that will allow pets in the cabin, unfortunately. Driving is problematic, especially now during border lock downs. Not sure about a marine option. We can suggest a private jet charter; however, this mode of travel has budgetary considerations. More info here: https://www.pettravel.com/private-jet-charter-pets.cfm
    Susan

  2. Hello, we are planning to relocate from Hk to Sg, my cat is exotic shorthair, as told by a vet after going for a checkup my cat has heart murmur (further blood test to be done). Would you please help 1) is my cat safe to go fly 2) what are the other alternatives if airplane Cargo is not possible with Singapore airline, is there another rout we can take where we can take our cat as passenger to end in Sg 3) can we travel with her on a Cruise ship? By car? Many thanks

  3. Kat – due to regulations imposed by all commercial airlines approved to fly into the United Kingdom, your Pekinese must fly as air cargo. Very likely, you will need an agent to book the transport through your airline’s cargo department. As the first leg of your flight will be domestic, you can fly your Pek in the cabin (if smmall enough) or as checked baggage (if you are traveling with your pup); however, in Moscow, you will need to check your pup in at your airline’s cargo facility for the flight to the UK. This may create issues if your airline’s cargo department requires a check-in 3-4 hours ahead of flight time. You may want to get the assistance of an agent who serves Moscow and have them meet you when you arrive in Moscow. They can check your pup into the flight to the UK. You can search for an agent at IPATA.org.
    Susan

  4. Hi guys! Hope I can get some advice here. Did anyone took a pekingese dog (9 years old) to Russia from UK? I have to take him to another city from Moscow, so will be two consecutive flights (with a 3-4 layover in Moscow) Any advice will be super helpful! Thank you, Kat

  5. RA – we do not believe that Emirates will accept a Himalayan cat in the cargo hold as it is snub-nosed and at higher risk for cargo travel. If Emirates will take it, be sure and have it travel in a crate that is one size larger than normally required. Also, make sure it has plenty of water available in the crate bowl.

    Sorry I did not see the breed when I responded to your last post.
    Susan

  6. RA – we understand your concern and, if you think your cat would be ok with staying with a friend, you will be able to transport it in the cabin when you return to Toronto. As for flying in the cargo hold, millions of pets do that safely every year with very few incidents. It is stressful for kitties, but they do adapt after travel. It is important that your cat be in good health prior to travel and acclimated to its crate, if possible.
    Susan

  7. Regarding Turkish Airlines, they are currently not working and I am planning on traveling very soon. I have two options, I can either keep the cat with a friend however the car will be unfamiliar with his surroundings, be it people or the house. Or, I can take him in cargo and have him stay w my family there (that was the preferred option since I’m not gonna be home most of the day) But since it’s dangerous for him, I might keep him with a friend – but since I’m leaving for a month and a half, would he be able to adapt with a friend?

    Also, is the risk for a Himalayan cat very high for him to be in cargo?
    Thank you so much.

  8. Unfortunately we’re planning on traveling within the month and Turkish Airlines aren’t back till next month so unfortunately we can’t have it – I’m coming back in a month and a half but my family is staying in Toronto, My cat was supposed to stay with my family there but because of the dangers or cargo, do you think it’s better if I keep my cat with a friend and then keep him when I’m back? Would he be able to adapt with a new family for 1.5months?
    Regarding Emirates, they might be able to take him under an exception but I just don’t want to put him in danger.

  9. RA – your cat’s breed is bracycephalic and its short-nose condition makes it a higher risk to fly in the cargo hold of an airline. We would suggest that you contact Emirates about the transport of your cat as this breed is included in their list of banned breeds. You may want to contact Turkish Airlines and ask whether they will fly your cat in the cabin on their route out of DXB through IST. It would be much better for your cat to fly in the cabin if it is possible.
    Susan

  10. Hi,
    I’m flying my cat from UAE to Toronto on Emirates and only cargo is allowed (he is an 11mo himalayan kitten and weighs about 4.5kgs) and the flight is 14 hours long, would the flight be safe for him?

  11. AJ – according to Australian regulations, all live animals must arrive into Melbourne as air cargo. Due to this requirement, you will need an agent in your EU country to book the transport. We do not have offices in the EU; however, you can search for an agent at IPATA.org.

    You can review regulations to import your Lhaso Apso to Australia here: https://www.pettravel.com/immigration/australia.cfm.
    Jason

  12. Hi We will want to fly our Lhasa Apso from Europe to Australia. Qatar do not currently list them as a ‘restricted’ breed, although most other airlines do. Do you think it is likely that Qatar will tighten their restrictions and list them as restricted in the future? I know it is hard to tell, but wondered if airlines are likely to continue their restrictions or there may be rules put in place that allow them to fly snub nose dogs in the future. what other airlines will fly Lhasa Apso from Europe to Australia?

  13. KA – the airlines would not fly your cat in the cargo hold if it were not temperature and pressure controlled like the cabin. Try to acclimate your cat to its crate beforehand. Be sure and tell the captain that your cat is flying in the cargo hold. Millions of cats and dogs are flown in the cargo hold safely every year.
    susan

  14. Hi i want to fly my 9yo Himalayan cat from UAE to Philippines. They only allow him to be in the cargo. It is an 8hr flight … will it be safe for my cat?

  15. Mono – although ANA flies your route non-stop, they do not allow pets in the cabin. Have you spoken to Air Canada? They may allow your Scottish Fold to fly in the cabin with you to LAX. If not, try United to SFO. Once in the states, you can fly with your cat in the cabin on all US-based airlines.
    Scottish Fold breeds are snub-nosed and should not fly in the cargo hold if possible.
    Susan

  16. Hello. I have 4 years old Scottish fold and I’m moving to California from Japan. I’d be dead without him. I know air transport is not the best way but I can’t find any other way. Could you give me any advice? Would he be okay with 10 hours flight? I’m so worried and scared.
    Thank you.

  17. Steve – Qantas has indicated that their review will take 2-3 more weeks. They have also indicated the importance of tightening controls in order to accommodate snub-nosed dogs such as Frenchies.
    Susan

  18. Hello,

    I hope you can help me. I’m not getting any answers and my anxiety has it the roof. I am due to move to Singapore from the UK this June and have been dealing with a pet agent to get my french bulldog transported on the same flight but she will have to go in Cargo. I will be moving for work and I can’t leave my baby behind. My pet agent told me two weeks ago that Qantas had put a 2 week ban on any bookings for flat faced dogs. Today is two weeks and I’ve not seen any updates on the internet. Do you know if this has been uplifted?

    I look forward to your response

    Thanks

  19. Louise – you may want to contact El Al and ask them whether your cat will be permitted to fly in the cabin on your specific route as they fly the route nonstop.
    Susan

  20. MT – you can inquire with American and United about whether they will accept your ESA on this specific flight due to the duration of the flight. If duration is an issue, then fly to JFK, clear customs and continue on to LAX. Many of the foreign-flagged airlines that fly this route only accept dogs as ESAs.
    Susan

  21. Hi hoping for advice! Need to fly my exotic short haired cat from Hong Kong to Israel. Want her in the cabin with me…already see that Cathay won’t take cats in the cabin. Any suggestions of airlines/routes would be appreciated!!!

  22. Hello,

    I have my Persian cat registered as an ESA. Which airline will fly it as carry-in from London to LAX? He is small ~4kg and the nose is kind of longer for a Persian.

  23. Serish – have you spoken to Turkish Airlines? They may fly your Persian in the cabin if it is small enough. They fly into Pakistan from Stockholm or Copenhagen. You can find requirements to import your Persian to Pakistan here: https://www.pettravel.com/immigration/pakistan.cfm.

    If you plan to return to the EU, it is a good idea to get your cat a rabies titer test according to steps 1-3 here before leaving the EU because you will need it to return to the EU. https://www.pettravel.com/immigration/Sweden.cfm. If you can get the results recorded in your cat’s EU Pet Passport, you do not need to get it done in Pakistan and wait for 3 months before returning to the EU.
    Susan

  24. Hi!
    What airline can I fly with my persian cat if I will go to Pakistan from Stockholm or Copenhagen?

  25. LA – try Korean Airlines through Seoul. They may fly your Pug in the cabin if small enough, otherwise in the hold if temperatures are not an issue. They need to be under 27 degrees C.
    Susan

  26. Latika – what cities will you be flying from and to? Air Canada flies nonstop between Mumbai and Toronto. You will need to confirm that they will allow your Shih Tzu in the cabin on this route because it is 16 hours.
    Susan

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