Transporting Snub Nose Breeds

Snub Nose Breeds in Pet Shipping

Brachycephalic, or Snub Nosed, breeds of dogs and cats are especially vulnerable during transport.  The breeds listed below suffer from Brachycephalic syndrome putting them at risk of multiple problems related to their airway.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

The word “Brachycephalic” literally means “short” “head.”  Along with the cute squashed flattened face of the snub nosed dog comes multiple respiratory compromises.  Included in these are stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, tracheal stenosis, and everted laryngeal saccules.

Stenotic Nares

Stenotic nares refers to the condition where the external nasal passage is too small.  In some cases this can be corrected surgically to open up the nostrils



Pug with stenotic nares

Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate is the fleshy structure in the back of the throat that helps to direct airflow into the trachea and food into the esophagus.  This structure tends to be enlarged in these breeds and due to the shorter head the superfluous flesh crowds the back of the throat and covers the airway.  This results in snorting, snoring, and difficulty breathing.  This condition can also be corrected surgically.

Boston Terrier

English: Adult Male Boston Terrier with black coat

Boston Terriers frequently have elongated soft palates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tracheal Stenosis

Tracheal Stenosis is a fancy way to say that the throat is too narrow.  The circumference of the trachea is too small and kinks can occur in the length of the trachea resulting in a smaller respiratory volume.  Combined with the other conditions listed here this will contribute to difficulty breathing.  This condition can not be corrected.

English Bulldog

Clyde, the english bulldog puppy

English Bulldogs tend to have multiple or all of these condtions  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everted Laryngeal Saccules

Laryngeal saccules are small pockets in the upper airway.  Over time with increased effort of breathing these pockets will turn inside out and evert into the airway causing additional respiratory restriction.  This condition is also surgically correctable.

Sequelae to Brachycephalic Syndrome

These and other breeds of brachycephalic dogs and cats may not have all of the conditions listed above but most have multiples of these.  As you can imagine with these conditions all contributing to difficulty in breathing, dogs and cats with brachycephalic sydrome with have a huge effort to breathe.  They will snort and wheeze and snore.  The normal quick in and out air movements of normal dogs to pant, which helps with temperature regulation, is labored and difficult in these pets.  The result is chronic inflammation of the airways exacerbating the problems listed above.  In cases of acute stress and high temperature heat stroke quickly develops.

It is amazing that some of these animals can breathe at all.  I am continually reminded of a pug patient I had several years ago that at 12 weeks of age could not walk across the living room without passing out.  This was due to having extreme brachycephalic syndrome.  After correcting her stenotic nares and elongated soft palate she could breathe better than she had her entire life and was very playful.  Just a little over a year ago a 6 year old pug patient was let outside in his back yard for about 10 minutes to eliminate.  This was in November (it was about 55 degrees F outside).  He had a respiratory attack and developed heat stroke.  Despite his caring owner rushing him to my clinic his temperature on presentation exceeded 109 degrees Farenheit and we could not save him.

Many of these dogs are doing well to breathe just sitting in their own home.  Stressing them during travel can quickly result in decompensation and death.  This is why many airlines now prohibit the transport of these breeds. They are by far the most common pets to experience problems during transport.

If you decide to ship a dog or cat of a snub nosed breed, transport should be limited to cool parts of the year and even then extreme caution should be taken.  Kennel size should be greatly exaggerated to provide extra ventilation and a steady supply of cool water should be available.  These animals should spend no time outside of a temperature controlled air conditioned environment.  Even 5 minutes on hot asphalt can mean heat stress for an individual that can’t regulate his or her temperature well at room temperature on a good day.

For help with domestic and international transport of dogs, cats and other animals, contact AirVets Pet Relocation

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