If you’re the proud parent of a boxer, bulldog, terrier, or other snub-nosed dogs, you might be privy to some travel-related concerns. You may, for example, have been told by the breeder that flying with this pup or kitty is unsafe. You might have even read about the snub-nosed cat and dog flight ban, which took effect in 2011. If you haven’t heard of any of these restrictions, you’re in for a rude awakening; brachycephalic, or snub-nosed animals, can suffer greatly during travel.
So, what does brachycephalic mean? All snub-nosed and flat-faced breeds—both cats and dogs—suffer a degree of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, or BOAS. The condition results from the foreshortening of the facial skeleton—a mutation present in and required for the selective breeding of these animals. Though some breeds have more prevalent BOAS, others are only at a moderate risk; however, in all cases, the short muzzle allows soft tissue to block the airways in the nose and throat, impeding airflow. This condition is aggravated when the animal is exercising, under stress, or experiencing an extreme temperature change—all actions that can occur during travel.
The breeds most impacted by BOAS are Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Bulldogs. Other breeds with more moderate manifestations of BOAS include the Affenpinscher, Chow Chow, Lhasa Apso, Shar Pei, Tibetan Spaniel, Rottweiler, Staffordshire Terrier, and Pomeranian. Affected cat breeds include Persians, Himalayans, and Exotic Shorthairs.
Travelling with a brachycephalic animal can, in the most extreme circumstances, cause death. Heavy breathing, such as that experienced when under stress, can cause airways to constrict, which can be fatal when they are already slightly impeded. Therefore, if you must travel with a snub-nosed animal, opt for a more relaxing journey: a car is ideal.