Kokito, a 10 month old french bulldog, unnecessarily lost his life on a United Airlines flight last Monday after he was placed in an overhead bin. No pet should ever be placed in an overhead bin.
Any pet could have suffered this tragic outcome but Kokito was especially at risk because he was brachycephalic. Brachycephalic dogs such as French Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs and all crosses of these breeds have narrow airway passages that can make breathing difficult even in the best of circumstances. With reduced access to air or excessive heat, these types of dogs can overheat leading to seizures, coma and death within as little as 30 minutes.
If you are the caretaker of one of these breeds, you should also know that these pets can overheat simply on a walk on a hot summer day – but thats another blog post.
Here are some important safety tips for traveling with pets:
- Visit a veterinarian. Make sure your pet is healthy enough to fly. During the visit, make sure you advise your veterinary team of your transport plans so they can help you make the best decisions for your pet.
- Be prepared. Each airline is different and may have different requirements. Further, if you are traveling out of the US you must check with the country you are headed to for their pet import requirements. The most up to date information for international travel can be found on the USDA website here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/export/iregs-for-animal-exports/ct_iregs_animal_exports_home/!ut/p/z0/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfIjo8zi_Qyd3Q0sTAx93F1dDA0cPSw9vT3MzQzcg830vfSj8CsAmmBU5Ovsm64fVZBYkqGbmZeWrx-RXBKfWZSaXhyfmJeZm5gTn1pRkF9UUhyfkZ-bql-QHRUJAKufIUM!/
- ID tags. Make sure your pet has identification tags on his or her collar that contain your information along with your pets name. Clearly mark the outside of your pets carrier with additional information denoting that there is a pet inside. Place an additional tag on the outside of the carrier with your pets name and your information. This may also prove invaluable should the two of you become separated. Get your pup microchipped.
- Training. Do a trial run. It is not possible to take your pet on a plane ahead of time…but it is possible to get your baby acclimated to the carrier. Before your trip, you can place your pet in the carrier and drive them around. Make sure to positively reinforce your pet with affection and treats for good behaviors.
- Basic needs. Flights can be long. You may need to bring a potty pad for your pet for the flight. Bring snacks and water as well. People aren’t the only species who can get dehydrated on a flight.