If you’ve gotten this far into my website, you likely know that I don’t bother learning the scientific names of the diseases that ail our wonderful Cavalier friends. However, there is one disease that I want all you spaniel-loving readers to commit to memory: brachycephalic. Yes, it’s a long one. It’s a lot of syllables and a lot of letters, but I promise you—if you mention this to any informed short-muzzled dog parent, they will know exactly what you are talking about.
Brachycephalic syndrome can affect dogs with a shortened muzzle. This includes Cavaliers, but most often refers to pugs and bulldogs. The syndrome is caused by the combination of respiratory-related issues. Without getting too much into the specifics, you should know the brachycephalic syndrome will impact your dog’s ability to breathe. Not getting enough air through these airways can lead to carbon dioxide buildup, which will increase the heart rate. In an attempt to lower body temperature, your furry friend will begin to pant, creating a deadly vicious circle.
So, what does a shortened nose have to do with flying? Everything, apparently. At least, according to The New York Times. Flying with animals is always tough, but it can be deadly for brachycephalic dogs. Apparently more than half of in-flight dog deaths occurred due to breathing issues in short-nosed dogs. Go figure. Apparently, the stress of flying combined with extreme changes in pressure can result in respiratory failure.
If you’ve been planning a trip with your Cavalier, be sure to take a train or, if possible, a car. Not only should you refrain from bringing him on a plane, but you likely won’t even get past the gate. Delta has banned these breeds from flying in cargo holds, and other airlines are likely on the same path.