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Moving to a different country must be one of the biggest adventures anyone can have in their life... second to marriage that is . It can also be one of the most stressful - particularly if you have children and a pet or two to consider.

Last week we talked about how challenging it can be to find an airline willing to carry brachycephalic (snub-nosed to you and me, if you recall!) dogs and cats, and the reasons why this is so. Well, this week we're going to give you a few pointers about how you can reduce the risks and lessen the stress when you try, and hopefully succeed, in getting your gorgeous snub-nosed critter on that plane.

  • Keep 'em healthy and at a normal weight. Go easy on the treats... yes, we know only too well how difficult it is when your Shih Tzu looks at you with those gorgeous, pleading eyes... but GO EASY ON THE TREATS!
  • Give them LOTS of time to get used to their travel box and make sure it's one size larger than they actually need, all to ensure more than sufficient airflow and circulation. Yep, bigger boxes for snub-nosed breeds is the airline industry law! And if your dog or cat feels safe and comfortable within their immediate environment (in this case, their travel box), this can really help to reduce their stress levels, which itself reduces risk of breathing problems.
  • Even though a familiar-smelling item in the travel box can be of comfort, do avoid thick blankets, fluffy towels or items of clothing that they could bury or wrap themselves in; this can decrease the airflow and increase the risk of respiratory problems. A thin blanket or towel is best and you can always throw in one of your smelly socks!
  • Pick the flight timings carefully - travel only during the coolest part of the day or at night.
  • DO NOT SEDATE! Aside from the fact that most airlines and all responsible shippers will refuse to carry sedated pets, tranquilizers and sedatives affect the respiratory and circulatory systems by slowing them down quite a bit, which is the very last thing our brachycephalic friends need.
  • Visit your veterinarian (along with your dog or cat, of course!). Ask them to check your pet's respiratory health and ask what precautions you can take to minimize risk.
  • And then, as always, talk to your veterinarian and/or your shipping agent if you have ANY concerns about your dog or cat's health... and then breathe easy.
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