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High Risk Breeds


Transporting short- nosed dogs and cats require extra care because they are more prone to brachycephalic, hereditary respiratory problems. Consequently, when playing, exercising, exposed to high stress levels or extreme heat, they may have difficulty cooling off, causing their oxygen supply to temporarily shut off. The dog may then overheat, collapse, or worst-case scenario, this may lead to death.

During transport, these breeds are put at a higher risk because of the changes in air quality and the temperature in the plane’s cargo hold. Although the cargo hold is pressurized, the air circulation and ventilation in the flight kennel may not be ideal. Also, there is nobody in the cargo hold to monitor your pet and provide help if needed. The best solution is to transport the pet in-cabin with a professional, medically trained pet courier. 

In any instance, there are proper precautions that minimize the risks. 

1. Know the Breed

The following breeds of dogs are considered high risk: American Staffordshire Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffin (Petite Brabancon), Bull Mastiff, Bull Terrier, Chinese Pug, Chow Chow, Dutch Pug (Mopshond, Mops Hund, Carlino), (English) Bulldog, English Toy Spaniel (King Charles Spaniel), French Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Japanese Chin (Japanese spaniel, Japanese Pug), Pekingese, Pug, Shar-Pei, Shih Tzu, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and Tibetan Spaniel

The following breeds of cats are considered high risk: Burmese, Exotic, Himalayan and Persian

2. Airline Restrictions

Airlines do not board pets into the cargo hold if the temperature at the arrival or departure airport is forecast to be above 21 °C (70 F) or below 7 °C (45 F), unless a veterinarian certificate of low temperature acclimation is provided. Even though the cargo hold is air-conditioned, the pet will still be outside during loading and unloading. 

When transporting in warmer temperatures, plan arrival and departure times when it’s cooler outside, so overnight or very early in the morning.

Similarly, in cold temperatures, plan arrival and departure times in the middle of the day when it’s warmer outside.   

Currently, Delta and American Airlines will not ship any bulldog breeds regardless of the temperature or the time of year. Continental Airlines will not transport Pit Bulls and American Staffordshire Terriers anytime of the year if they are over 20 pounds or 6 months of age. Also, between May 15 and September 15, they will not transport any dog of or including the breeds: English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and/or Pugs.

3. The Proper Flight Kennel

The flight kennel needs to be one size larger than is normally required. For better ventilation, it must have holes on all four sides. If there’s not, a ¾ inch keyhole bit can be used to drill seven holes in the rear top and rear bottom of the kennel. Prepare the kennel appropriately by providing plenty of water for the flight. By filling one (1) bowl with water and freezing it overnight, the night before the pet’s flight, the pet will have a source of hydration during the entire transport.

4. Reduce Stress

It is especially important to reduce stress in high-risk breeds because it can prevent them from overheating. Please see the steps provided in the ‘Keeping Calm’ section to help guide the process.

Taking the proper precautions helps to minimize the risks. The best solution is to transport the pet in-cabin with a professional, medically trained pet courier. Learn more about the serviced offered by VIP Sitters, or get started today by sharing your travel plans to receive a quote on your pet’s transport.