Every pet parent is concerned about their beloved companion’s health and safety. So when it comes to air travel, it is reassuring to know that hundreds of thousands of pets and other animals fly safely every year, all around the globe. Mishaps are rare. However, before you book your pet’s reservation, it’s important to know flying can be more of a problem for some types of special needs pets.
These are pets that are elderly, have a chronic medical condition, or are among the many snub-nosed (flat faced) breeds of cats and dogs.
Airlines that transport pets are well aware they are carrying precious family members. Pets traveling as cargo experience the same temperature-controlled and pressurized environment as people in the passenger cabin. But an overseas move can involve multiple and/or long flights, even layovers for pets. And while you can use the weather-proof jetway to board and disembark your flights, pets are often exposed to the elements as they are moved to and from the plane for each segment of their trip.
For pets in good health, these issues may seem strange and even a little scary, but are acceptable aspects of the journey. Unfortunately, for special needs cats and dogs, these issues can present very serious problems. Here’s why:
1. Elderly pets don’t always cope
The aging process affects pets just like it does pet parents. Older cats and dogs often develop health challenges such as arthritis. Some get crankier and less tolerant of change. The complexities and inherent stress of air travel may put too much emotional or physical pressure on them.
3. Medical issues can interfere with air travel
Chronic medical challenges such as diabetes, heart and liver disease, or other ongoing health problems (including obesity) can compromise your pet’s overall health. He may not be “sick,” exactly, but he could still be at higher risk for air travel-related problems. Often chronic illness requires medication that must be taken on a specific timetable. This can make it difficult, or even impossible, to arrange a flight schedule that works for your pet.
3. Snub-nosed pets present several concerns
Dogs, cats, and rabbits that have flat or shortened snouts have innate respiratory difficulties due to the natural constrictions in their air passages and the rest of their nasal anatomy. Snub-nosed breeds, technically known as brachycephalic, can suffer from a wide range of health issues including eye, neurological problems, heart and gastrointestinal disease. Stress, temperature extremes, and other factors can all aggravate these problems, making air travel dangerous.
Due to increased awareness of concerns about brachycephalic pets, most airlines now have restrictions that relate specifically to these breeds. A number of carriers simply won’t accept them at all. Many airlines extend their restrictions to cross-breeds as well as purebred animals. Between May and September, when hot weather exacerbates dangers for snub-nosed pets, even airlines that normally allow them will not.
What should you do?
- Talk to the airline you are considering, asking specifically about rules that may affect your elderly, ill, or snub-nosed pet. Every carrier has different rules regarding what pets are allowed to fly, and under what circumstances.
- Consult your veterinarian. They know your pet’s personality as well as his medical status, which is important because every pet is different. Your vet can help you decide if your dog or cat is fit to fly.
- Call our pet travel experts at Pacific Pet Transport. We’re here to answer your questions and help you arrange the safest, most comfortable move possible, if your snub nose, chronically ill or senior pet is a “go” to fly.