Snub-nosed dogs at risk on aeroplanes

by Leanne Thompson on July 22, 2010

Anyone thinking of flying with their dogs should take note of recent data released by the Transportation Department in the United States of America. Last week, the Transportation Department released figures that showed that dogs with snub-noses, such as Pugs, Pekingese and English Bulldogs, are more at risk of death when travelling on planes. The figures released showed that over 50% of dogs that died on board aircraft in the last five years were dogs with smaller, pushed back faces.

A total of 122 dogs have been reported as having died on American flights since 2005, with 25 of those dogs being classed as English Bulldogs. 11 of the dogs that died were Pugs, with Pomeranians, Pekingese and Boxers also suffering as a result of being placed in aeroplane cargo holds.

The reason that short nosed dogs (Brachycephalic) are more at risk of death on board aircraft is due to their inability to breathe easily and cool themselves down in an otherwise warm environment, as cargo holds are often devoid of air conditioning.

Dan Bandy, the chairman for the health committee of the Bulldog Club of America commented:

“The way all dogs cool themselves is basically through respiration, either just panting or the action of breathing in or out, is a method of heat exchange for them. A dog that has a long snout or a long muzzle has more surface area within its nasal cavity for that heat exchange to take place. So breeds like labradors or collies or those types of dogs with the long muzzles have a more efficient cooling system.”

Anyone flying with a short nosed dog is risking the dog’s health by placing them in the cargo hold of an aircraft. One short nosed dog that flies a lot is ‘Uga’, the mascot for the University of Georgia. Uga is an English Bulldog, and several dogs have played the part of Uga over the years. As a mascot, Uga has to fly to games to support his team, but in order to ensure the dog’s safety on board any aircraft, each Uga undergoes a surgical procedure to assist with breathing.

Sonny Seiler, the owner of the mascot, stated:

“They go into the nasal passage and clip muscles and tissue and in essence, what they do is they make a bigger air passage,” Seiler said. “It’s a quick procedure, and once you have it done it really eliminates a lot of the problems with the breathing.”

“It’s just business as usual with us. He goes with the team.”

If you’re thinking of flying with your dog, it might be an idea to leave them behind.

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