Too Hot for Pets to Travel?

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I’m originally from Birmingham, Alabama and when I take a trip home (or wherever else for that matter) my pampered pooch, Maggie, comes with me. She pretty much should have her own frequent flyer card, but unfortunately for me the airlines haven’t thought of that yet. Maggie is a four-year-old Japanese Chin and this Texas pup goes everywhere I go. Thankfully she’s small enough to fit under my seat in the plane so she’s always with me and I can keep a close eye on her. Since Japanese Chins are a brachycephalic (flat face) breed, these dogs are very sensitive to temperature extremes (particularly heat). Other brachycephalic breeds you may be more familiar with include Pugs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, Boxers, Bulldogs and Shih Tzus. With Maggie I have to be very cautious during the summer months and make sure she doesn’t get too hot because she can have breathing problems.

Maggie at home. Photo: Lauren Whisenhunt

Earlier this month I was reading a story about how seven puppies died while traveling in the cargo section of an American Airlines flight from Tulsa to Chicago and of course this just broke my heart. Heat is thought to be the cause of the puppies’ death as they died shortly after arriving in Chicago. Cargo handlers noticed the puppies were lethargic and they were rushed to a veterinarian’s office but it was too late. Airlines do have heat restrictions for animals flying in cargo, but an American Airlines spokesperson said the flight complied with the company policy that prohibits shipping animals when outside ground temperatures exceed 85 degrees. 17 other dogs were onboard the same flight and they all survived. It’s still uncertain what the ages and breed of the puppies were. The plane was originally suppose to take off at 6:30am but it was delayed an hour because of storms in the Chicago area. The NWS recorded 86 degrees in Tulsa while the plane was still on the ground.

If you are shipping or traveling with a pet in cargo, be sure and check the weather and make sure it’s not too hot for them to travel. Check with your airline as most of them have polices to protect animals from traveling in extreme heat or cold. Pets will not be accepted by some airlines (to travel in cargo) when the current or forecasted temperature at the arrival or departure location is above 84ºF. Also, try to choose a flight that leaves after dark or early in the morning. Small dogs and cats that can fit under the seat can travel in the cabin with you in airline approved pet carriers and some airlines sell them at the check-in counter.

Purebred Dog: $400. Airline Approved Travel Bag: $45. Safety of your Pet: Priceless! Photo:

If you’d like to learn more on how to protect your pet in the every day summer heat, you can check out a posting I wrote last month here.

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