Just when you thought the hassles of flying were already at their doggone worst, now comes this warning from the U.S. Department of Transportation to people traveling by air with their pooches: “Short-faced” dogs are more prone to die during flight.
Breeds such as pugs and bulldogs represent almost half of the 122 canines that have died while being transported by their owners as air cargo during the last five years, according to data the federal agency compiled. That’s a significantly higher mortality rate than for other dog breeds.
Officials did not say why short-faced dogs, including the English and French bulldogs, pugs and American Staffordshire terriers, are not good fliers. But they advised people to check with their veterinarians about respiratory issues, genetic features and the overall medical condition of their animal before booking a trip.
“We are not a veterinary agency. We don’t have that expertise. So we don’t get into the reasons why these dogs face a higher risk,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Mosley in Washington.
But the veterinary literature shows that these breeds often have health problems because of their facial structure. The animals may be less tolerant of cold and hot conditions inside a jetliner’s cargo hold because their short snouts do not warm or cool air before it enters their lungs as well as longer snouts do.
Outside the canine category, 22 other types of pets have died during flight on U.S. airliners since 2005, the department reported. The smaller number of cats, birds and other creatures dead on arrival is likely because dogs make up the majority of animal cargo on carriers. Since 2005, some 55 pets have been injured and 33 lost, the data show.