Pet Travel: Traveling via Cargo with a Snub-Nosed Pet

Flickr: Vivian Chen:PeachesThere are certain precautions every pet owner must take when your pet is traveling in the cargo area of a plane. You want to make sure your pet is acclimated to the crate, properly hydrated etc. so your pet travels as safe and as comfortable as possible. For the snub nosed pet owner, things can get a little trickier. Snub-nosed pets (Dogs: Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih-Tzu Cats: Persian and Himalayan for example) are some of the most popular breeds, but unfortunately can pose a risk during air travel. These short nosed (also called “brachycephalic”) pets have difficulty breathing and acclimating to certain weather conditions. Even though these pets are considered “at risk”, taking necessary precautions and using the proper flight itinerary on a pet-safe, pet friendly airline will help reduce the chances of an incident. Below is an airline chart to help pet owners who are considering traveling via cargo with their sub nose breed.

Most airlines require a health certificate within 10 days prior to your travel date. (International immigration requirements also apply if traveling outside country borders)

Weather restrictions: When extreme weather conditions exist the airlines restrict animals that will be accepted as checked baggage in certain cities. These restrictions are setup for the safety of your pet. The restrictions are as follows:

Summer Heat Embargo: May 15 through September 15

Winter Embargo: November 1st through March 31st

Delta: Delta is one of the least restrictive airlines when it comes to snub nosed pet travel. As long as the temperature does not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit or drop below 10 degrees, snub nosed breeds can be transported. Unfortunately, they will not accept any type of Bulldog (French, American, or English).

Continental: Continental acknowledges the weather restrictions due to the embargo but in certain cities they provide climate controlled vans to transport the pets to and from the airplane. With these vans and under certain circumstances they are able to transport pets during these embargoes. You will want to contact the airline directly for more information. Also, Boston Terriers, Pugs and Bulldogs will not be transported at all between May 15th and September 15th. Along with the health certificate, here are the Continental Airline requirements for snub nosed pet travel:
• Use 1 size larger kennel than is normally required
• Use a kennel with ventilation on 4 sides. (If the kennel does not have ventilation on 4 sides, modify the kennel by drilling 7 holes in the rear top and 7 holes in the rear bottom of the kennel using a 3/4 inch keyhole bit).
• Acclimate the animal to the kennel by letting the animal spend time in the kennel for several days before its departure
• Do not place food in the kennel during the flight, just water
• Provide plenty of water to the animal. Frozen water bottles with tiny holes punched in the sides make a great watering tool for several hours when placed in the kennel’s watering dish.

American Airlines: American Airlines has issued a permanent embargo on all breeds of snub-nosed dogs and cats, effective November 15, 2010.

Frontier and Alaskan Airlines: Both Frontier and Alaskan airlines don’t have special requirements or restrictions for snub nosed pets, however there are temperature restrictions. Also, during the months of June to September these airlines will not transport pets in certain cities. Call your local office for more information.

It is always wise to call your airlines when making your reservation and disclose the breed of your dog. Also, it is a good idea to let the Captain know that you are traveling with a pet. Preparing in advance is an important part of pet travel.

UPDATE: Delta announced this week that they will not longer allow any type of bulldog in the cargo hold. Almost all of the US based carriers have followed suit. Frontier is the only known US based carrier that will accommodate a bulldog as of this writing.


Pet Travel: Traveling via Cargo with a Snub-Nosed Pet — 270 Comments

  1. Elle – if your Shih Tzu would be small enough to fly in the cabin, then you could fly to Paris and take Le Shuttle out of Calais. You would need to hire a service to help you or enlist assistance of friends as you will need a car to make this trip. Also, did you try KLM? KLM Cargo is approved to transport pets into the UK, but you need to be careful about temperature restrictions.

  2. Hi~
    I have 2 Maltese and 1 Shih Tzu and I need to return from Taiwan back to England. However every flight I’ve looked at say they won’t take Shih Tzu’s as on board or cargo! I’m very worried as I would be devastated to leave her here! If anyone could help me I would be very grateful.

  3. im trying to get my french bulldog to china does anyone have any idea how this is done

  4. Vicki – extremely difficult to transport an English Bullie to or from Hawaii. You can look up a transporter in Hawaii and inquire.

  5. Have two 80 pd english bulldogs I need to get from maui to lax. Used Hawaiian in the past but it they have banned this breed now too.

  6. Jenn – did you check Royal Brunei? AirAsia may carry your Shih Tzu, but transits through Kuala Lumpur which is not a desired route. Korean Air is not approved to fly pets into the UK. What is really important is returning to Bahrain with your pup. The regulations are rather steep; you can check them here:

  7. Hi!
    I have a shih tzu and I really want to bring her out to London with me when I go study there. However, the only airline that I found that can bring shih tzu is korean air, but i cannot find any flights from Brunei to London (its okay to have transits), and there are no airlines that I know of in Brunei that allows shih tzu on cargos… 🙁

  8. For those who wonder how to bring their pet to Lax I just wanna share my experience on pet travel from Manila to LA. First you need to finish all the required documents (Health Certificate, BAI export permit and inoculation record. Your pet’s Vet can help you with this and prepare it more than a month before your travel. Next is you need to call the airline make reservations so that your pet will have a place, you can ask how much are you going to pay because pets are automatically considered as an excess baggage. At your flight, you need to ready your pet’s papers when you check in your baggage. The process time takes like 30min above that’s why you should check in early. After your baggage has been collected, they will tell you to leave your pet in an area where they’ll pick them up and transport them in the cargo hold. They’ll be loaded 30min before flight. I was so worried about my dog because he’s a snub nosed (Shih Tzu) and he has anxiety problems, maybe he’ll not survive the flight after all the forums I read about snub nosed not surviving the flight. I was so anxious and I keep praying the while I’m aboard to make sure he’s okay. When you’re near to your destination, you’ll be given a CBP form of Customs and you need to fill that up, there’s a section asking if you take an animal with you. When we land in LAX I was so worried, maybe he’s dead or sick. Then I saw him in his crate anxious and wondering, will my master come back for me? Then when he saw me he started trying to get out of the cage cuz he’s so excited to see me. Then you have to go to another checking and final where they’ll ask for all the required documents. Check the CDC page for all the requirements needed to import pets in US. I just gave them his health certificate, inoculation record and export permit, then we pass and get home happy to move in a new place with my pet. I hope this helps to the pet owners who wants to bring their pet in US and are extremely worried about they’re pet who’s snub nosed. I would recommend Philippine Airlines because they treat my dog nicely and handled him with care to reduce stress. That’s the best airline for me. I just hope that someday they’ll allow small pets I the cabin.

    Here are some tips so you can reduce your pet’s stress during the flight
    1. Put an all day long worn shirt in his crate so that he’ll be comforted during the flight. Make sure this is not too thick which may cause your pet to bury his nose and have a harder time breathing.
    2. Attach an information about the pet (Name, owner, breed, address, email and contact number) in case he got lost
    3. Do not feed him less than 4 hours before flight. You don’t want your pet throwing up or feeling sick during the flight
    4. Make sure water is available to hydrate him. Staffs can’t go to the cargo hold while in flight, so make sure there’s enough water in your pet’s Hanging drinking water

    And for you so you won’t be so stressed and anxious I would recommend you to pray because it really helps so much and remember everything happens for a reason. That’s all thanks, I hope this helps 😀

  9. Hello Mark – you are correct. Snub-nosed breeds are at greater risk when flying than other breeds due to their breathing limitations. Several suggestions: get one crate size bigger than your pup will normally require and make sure it is ventillated on all 4 sides. Fly during periods of lower temperatures. Get a large crate bowl and freeze the water in it the night before. Traveling is very dehydrating and you want to make sure that your pet has adequate hydration. Get a funnel and attach it to the door with a zip tie so that airport personnel can easily refill the bowl during the layover. You can ever tape a sign to the crate saying “Please refill my water”. Of course, this would be on a layover as airport personnel have no access to the cargo hold once the plane leaves the gate. Be sure and remind the crew that your pet is traveling in the cargo hold and to monitor the temperature and pressure.

  10. Hi we’re traveling from Manila to Lax this December. He’s a shih tzu consider him as a snub nose. What can I do to lower the risks of my pet dying. He’s checked in as baggage and the airlines told me (Philippine Airlines) that he will be placed in an area for live animals. I was quite relieved but I’m still worried. He is bpvery healthy and we completed all the documents needed. Hope you answer. Thanks

  11. Audrey – Lufthansa will carry them as long as the temperature does not exceed 75 degrees. They must travel as air cargo, so you want to contact Lufthansa’s cargo department.

  12. how can I fly my 3 yrs old shiatsu from KL Malaysia to Toronto Canada in April with me or through the cargo itself? Pls. advise .


  13. Hello, I was wondering about French Bulldogs on British Airways flights. I see that airline isn’t listed. I know they allow them on some routes but I’m enquiring about a puppy coming from the UK on British Airways to Bermuda. Thank you! Jessie

  14. Delta will not fly her because of the summer embargo, even in those cities listed. I’m considering going down there myself and bringing her with me in the cabin, though I am not sure that will be possible. Could you give me a quote as to how much it would cost for ground transportation? It would be from Miami to NYC. Thank you?

  15. Jackie – Delta will not transport pets as checked baggage between the period of May 15 through September 15. During that time, pets must fly under the policies of Delta Cargo unless the weather is extreme. First suggestion: consider flying from a city that is on Delta’s 2015 Summer Live Animal Program: Miami, Sarasota, Fort Walton Beach, Pansacola, Gainesville, Panama City, Fort Myers, Ft Lauderdale. Contact Delta’s cargo department and see if there is a flight that departs very early in the morning before temperatures rise. Be prepared to get a crate one size larger than your pup would normally require. As for ground transport, we are based in South Florida and would be happy to quote you a price to drive, however, it will most likely exceed the cost of flying your pup as cargo.

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