Over the past few years, many airlines have tightened their policies regarding the transport of Brachycephalic (snub-nosed) animals. In fact, now the majority of International Airlines either completely ban or place severe restrictions on the shipment of these animals.
Examples (not exhaustive) of the breeds in this group include the following:
Bulldogs (all types), Pugs, Pekinese, Shih Tzu, Boston Terrier, Boxer and Chow Chow
Persian, Himalayan, Exotic Shorthair
A brachycephalic animal has a short and flat snout resulting from years of breeding to develop this characteristic.
The following list describes the particular anatomical characteristics that contribute to breathing difficulties:
1. Stenotic Nares - abnormally small nasal openings.
2. Elongated soft palate - the soft palate is the flap of tissue extending back towards the throat behind the "roof of the mouth". It divides the back of the mouth from the nasal passages above. If too long, it flaps about in the back of the throat and can partially cover the opening of the windpipe (larynx).
3. Redundant Pharyngeal tissues - excessive folding of tissues in the throat.
4. Everted laryngeal saccules - these small pouches of mucosal tissue within the voice box can bulge into the airway obstructing airflow.
5. Hypoplastic trachea - abnormally small diameter and shape of the windpipe.
Snub-nosed pets may have some or all of the above issues. In addition, older animals may also have associated lung disease and/or heart disease.
A detailed medical examination is recommended prior to considering air travel. If your pet has a clinical history of respiratory or cardiac disease, I will request copies of your pet's case notes from your local Vet for evaluation.
You do not need to be alarmed when considering relocation of your snub nosed pet, however careful pre-export health evaluation and specific crate consideration should be standard practice in this situation. This is a time when veterinary advice is so important in the health and well being of your snub nosed pets relocation.