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What Does United Airlines Have Against Flying Pugs?

Friday, June 5, 2009 by Rachel Farris

After yesterday's post about dog travel moving to Tokyo from Orlando, in which a pet owner was having trouble finding an pet airline to take her "Puggle," one of our Twitter followers, @maxandcats, asked "Why United would not fly the dog because it was part pug?"

Great question!  Is United just discriminatory?  Anti "designer dog?" 

Nope, none of the above.  Actually what United is concerned about is the delicate respiratory systems that Pugs and other snub-nosed breeds generally have.  Snub-nosed dogs, such as pugs and English bulldogs, are at an elevated risk for traveling because of their delicate respiratory systems, which can become impaired under high-stress situations. The length of travel and the pet's individual personality can contribute to the amount of risk. Ultimately, it is left to the pet owner's discretion to make an informed decision whether to fly with their pet after consulting with their pet relocation specialist and veterinarian.

In the case of United Airlines, because it does not keep pets in climate-controlled conditions, they have heat embargoes for dog breeds (if it's over 85 degrees they won't fly pets) and when it comes to snub-nosed breeds, they will simply refuse to fly them in summer months (some airlines refuse to fly them year-round).  However, most reputable pet relocation companies work with airlines that have programs in place to keep pets in climate-controlled environments for the duration of the flight. The pet never is exposed to inclement weather, and this allows companies to relocate pets all over the world year-round, including most snub-nosed breeds.

At-risk Breeds

Following are breeds of pets that are susceptible to increased risk of heat stroke and breathing problems when exposed to stress or extreme heat—a condition that puts them at risk for travel—because of hereditary respiratory problems.

Dogs

  • Boston Terrier
  • English Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Boxer
  • Dutch Pug
  • Pekinese
  • Brussels Griffin
  • Bull Terrier
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • Shih Tzu
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Japanese Chin
  • Japanese Pug

Cats

  • Himalayan
  • Persian

 

Tips for Transporting Snub-nosed Breeds

  • Use a larger travel crate than normally is required (four to six inches clearance on all sides).
  • Use only "pet-friendly" airlines when flying
  • Use a travel crate with ventilation on four sides.
  • Acclimate the pet to the travel crate by working on crate-training the pet before its departure.
  • Provide plenty of water to the animal before, during, and after the flight.

 

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