Should Pets Fly Cargo?


It’s vital to do your research when travelling with your pets.

Echoing WestJet’s recommendation on snub-nose breeds, Dr. Sheldon said dogs like Pugs and Bulldogs are not suited for the cargo hold due to breathing problems. Stress caused by noises, the cool temperature, and confined space in cargo can aggravate respiratory and cardiac issues, he said.

Other breeds without the “pushed-in” facial appearance, including Poodles and Yorkies who have a tracheal collapse, can also be negatively affected by traveling in cargo.

“If the pet has a breathing problem, or an underlying condition you are unaware of, you could end up with a deceased pet on arrival,” Dr. Sheldon said.

This frightening reality has pushed airlines like Delta to change their pet policies.


Credit: Instagram / @united

Delta Airlines banned all pets from traveling in its cargo hold as of March 1, 2016, after a total of 74 pet deaths were reported between May 2005 and September 2015.

According to MarketWatch, Delta banned snub-nosed dogs and cats from being checked in with baggage in 2011 due to respiratory issues. However, even after this initial ban, the airline experienced another 24 deaths leading up to the ban on all pets in cargo.

Another 14 animals went missing during this 10-year period.

“If an airline can lose luggage, they can lose your pet,” Dr. Sheldon said. And as with any type of travel, delays can cause stressful situations for both the pet and owner.


Elizabeth Taylor & Chance always fly in cabin

“Operations do not always run smoothly; you’re sometimes delayed waiting for hours on board and you may not know what’s going on. That situation alone is concerning.”

If you’re anything like me, the very thought of a beloved pet under my care being just beyond reach when they might need me most is enough for me to call a no-go to cargo hold traveling.



I can’t control when the flight will land, how long it will stay on the tarmac, or who will handle my pet. I can’t be there to comfort them during turbulence, or make sure they don’t go missing in between flights. While it may not be high-risk to every animal’s health, there are too many factors that I would rather find an alternative for in order to avoid a potentially stressful trip for myself and my animal.

But as much as I would rather avoid it, there could be a time when my pet has to travel in cargo. And the best person to go to if you’re experiencing travel anxiety for your pet is your veterinarian.


Dr. Sheldon recommends seeing a vet before traveling to make sure your pet receives a clean bill of health.

The holidays see some of the busiest travel days of the year with the heaviest luggage. So be sure to get started early on planning your pets travel itinerary or holiday accommodations.