As many dog lovers will attest to, there is nothing cuter than the involuntary wheezing of a bulldog as it intakes oxygen. We’ve all seen and heard it before, that hectic, nasally heaving that can often be mistaken as choking or snarling congestion. At times, we may feel bad for these droopy faced dogs and their feline counterparts in the form of Persians and Himalayans. These types of animals are born with shorter skull diameters from front to back, known as brachycephaly, which causes their nasal passages to be shortened. This trait is simply put and commonly known as snub-nosed. Bulldogs, Pugs, Persians and Himalayans all come genetically packaged with this trait which causes them to inhale less air and makes them extremely sensitive to high temperatures (as dogs regulate body temperature through nose). While it may be adorable to watch these animals huff and puff naturally on solid ground, in the sky this genetic trait can kill them. As a result, a majority of airlines have banned brachycephalic breeds of animals from flying.
Reported in The New York Times earlier this month, brachycephalic breeds of animals have been forbidden from flying with most major airline carriers. It’s not because the airlines have an animistic discrimination towards these breeds, it is because these breeds have a harder time breathing in the cargo holds where most animals are stored during a flight. According to The Times, between June 2005 to June 2011, 189 animals died on commercial flights. Of this 189, 98 were brachycephalic breeds. In a three-month period in 2010, four bulldogs died while flying with American Airlines. As a direct result of this issue, these breeds with their pushed-in snouts, were banned by the airline. Similar statistics were seen with the other major airlines as well as a similar ban.
This may come as a shock to most travelers and an inconvenience to those pug and bulldog owners, but almost 200 pet related casualties in six years seems unacceptable to flight providers. Perhaps that is why certain animal-oriented airlines have emerged in the last few years. Airlines such as Pet Jets and Pet Airways have made a living off of their niche specific services. They fly your pets across the country without the risk that runs with storing them in the cargo hold. Unlike the cabins that human passengers and most pets under 20 lbs. enjoy, the cargo hold is not pressurized and most snub-nosed animals struggle to gather oxygen already due to smaller openings to their noses and elongated soft palates on the roof of their mouths. Mix all this in with the stress of flying, which according to The Times, makes it even harder for these animals to inhale, it comes as no surprise that airlines have decided against serving these breeds through the sky.
Today, more and more people have been trending towards bringing their pets on trips. With this increase, the mortality rate of snub-nosed pets on planes has risen as well. Apparently, veterinarians have been aware of this problem for some time now and a good portion of them will not sign off on flying a brarchycephalic breed. Others insist that their owners consider driving as a safer alternative for their beloved companions. As for now, however, these snooty, snorting frown faces will remain on the no-fly list until time and technology can solve their deviated dilemma.