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Medical Requirements for Moving Overseas With a Flat-Face Dog

Published on: November 6, 2019  |  Author: Starwood Animal Transport


Health certification is more than a formality for pets hoping to travel overseas. That’s especially true if your dog is one of many flat-faced breeds. You want him to be physically comfortable and secure throughout his journey, but medical factors can significantly affect his fitness for travel and, as a result, his safety as well as his comfort.

With that in mind, it is crucial to understand medical requirements for moving overseas with a flat-faced dog, regardless of your dear Charlie’s specific breed.

You might refer to Frankie flat-faced, snub-nosed, or short-snouted, but he is what veterinarians call brachycephalic. Dogs (and cats) with this condition all suffer from breathing difficulties, whether their muzzles are just somewhat shorter than normal or their face is truly flat. They have the same nasal anatomy as any dog with a long snout, but those anatomical structures are stuffed into a much smaller space. That pushes them out of shape, leaving less room for air to flow in and out.

That chronic inability to get enough oxygen can lead to a number of medical problems.

Air travel is harder on flat-faced dogs

Flying can make even the most relaxed dog anxious. The journey is a series of strange noises, smells, and sights – unfamiliar conditions that can feel stressful. Environmental conditions such as weather can pose problems, too. For instance, hot weather and humidity significantly increase breathing difficulty for flat-faced dogs. When dogs feel stressed or overly warm, they pant. But panting does not work well to either cool or calm brachycephalic dogs, so they are at greater risk of heatstroke.  

Due to increasing concerns about the health effects of travel on snub-nosed dogs (and cats), some airlines no longer accept them. Other airlines do allow at least some brachycephalic pets, but only in certain circumstances. So the first step in moving Frankie overseas is to confirm that your airline will, in fact, welcome him as a passenger to your destination. Yes? Great, you have cleared the first hurdle.

What is your dog’s overall medical condition?

Regardless of breed, all dogs have a unique health profile. You and your vet will need to discuss Frankie’s fitness to fly as it relates to his age and overall health as well as implications relating to his brachycephaly. Flat-faced breeds are susceptible to respiratory and neurological disease because of their facial and other genetic deformities. Those with protruding eyes often suffer from ocular problems. And some have ongoing digestive challenges. These medical issues can increase air travel risks for dogs like Frankie.

If Frankie is also elderly or has some serious health condition such as diabetes or heart disease, he may be even more vulnerable to problems associated with air travel.

So if your vet agrees that Frankie is a good candidate for air travel, you have cleared the second major hurdle. Now, it’s time to work with your vet to assemble all the health-related paperwork Frankie will need for his overseas move.

Obtaining your dog’s medical documentation

All countries require proof of health before allowing dogs and other pets to cross their borders. That may be as simple as a valid rabies certificate and a general health certificate, but it is more likely to include a list of specific required vaccinations, treatments, and even tests that must be performed before Frankie can travel.

In many cases, the health certificate your vet prepares to verify all medical requirements have been met must also be officially endorsed by the USDA State Veterinarian where you currently live (if you’re in the US). All of this has to follow specific timelines, and the entire process can take weeks or even months. So once you know you’ll be moving overseas and Frankie is good to go with you, get started on his paperwork right away.

Let us help!

Arranging overseas travel for your dog involves a lot more than meeting the medical requirements, and the process can stress out Fur Moms and Dads as well as pets. Especially if you have extra concerns because Frankie is a flat-faced pooch. Why put yourself through all that when you can let our Starwood Animal Transport team make the arrangements for you? We know what it takes to move brachycephalic dogs safely and comfortably. Instead of stressing, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing Frankie is in expert, pet-loving hands.     

Dog with bindle in mouth ready to fly