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The Danger of Air Travel and Short Nosed Dogs

air plane dogs abuquerque

air plane dogs abuquerqueDid you know that short-nosed dog breeds like pugs, Boston Terriers, boxer, mastiffs, pekingese, Lhasa Apsos, Shih tzus and bull dogs have a higher chance of dying on an airplane than dog breeds with normal length noses? Over half of the dog deaths on airlines involved breeds with short noses.

The reason why short-nosed dogs are more likely to die is because they are more prone to respiratory problems. Their short noses have all the same anatomy of longer nosed breeds, but it is just more crammed in there. This crowding is what makes them more prone to respiratory issues.  This leads to many of them having smaller than normal nostrils, a longer soft palate, and a narrow windpipe. All this means that they don’t breath as efficiently as other dogs, and they can have difficulty cooling off after exercise.

Because their windpipe is smaller it is more like breathing through a straw. If you suck through a straw to hard and fast it will collapse the straw. The same thing can happen to your dog. This can cause your dog to not get air temporarily until their windpipe opens back up.

Short-nosed breeds are more vulnerable to changes in air quality and temperatures, which even in a pressurized cabin can cause some breathing difficulty.  If your dog is in the cargo hold, as opposed to flying as a passenger with you, there will be no one there to see if there is a problem with his breathing. Even if there is not problem with the airflow, if your dog gets stressed out you could have the collapsing straw issue due to being over stressed.

We are not saying don’t fly with your short-nosed pet. Here are things you can do to help ensure a healthy flight:

  • Bring your dog to your Albuquerque vet within 10 days of travel to make sure he is healthy enough to fly.
  • Watch your dogs weight. An overweight dog has a harder time breathing.
  • If your dog has an underlying medical condition, speak with your vet about if it is safe for him to fly.
  • If your dog is elderly, speak with your Albuquerque vet about if he is safe to fly. Older dogs are more prone to experiencing higher levels of stress.
  • Practice crating your dog before traveling. If your dog is crate trained then the crate will likely be a source of comfort and not stress.
  • Do not put thick blankets, towels, or cloth that your dog can bury his nose in. This can increase the chance of restricted oxygen flow. A thin blanket or newspaper is better to line the crate.
  • If you have a small dog that can fit in a carrier that fits under the seat you can ask the airline if you can bring your dog on the plane with you. Make sure to do this in advance. Not all airlines allow this and there may be additional fee’s.
  • Try to minimize layovers where your dog might be sitting in his crate on the tarmac. When the plane is on the tarmac it is not temperature controlled. This means that the cargo area can get hotter or colder than preferred temperatures.
  • Do not tranquilize your pet. This can increase their risk of medical complication.
  • Put something that smells like lavender in their crate. Lavendar is soothing. You can add a drop of essential oil to their collar.
  • If you have used rescue remedy in the past, you may consider giving it to your dog before travel to help relax him.

It is best to ask your vet about any travel advice or precautions before putting your dog on a plane. Safe travels!

How to Spot Pancreatitis in your Dog

albuquerque pancreatitis dog

albuquerque pancreatitis dogPancreatitis is a life threatening condition in dogs and can often be mistaken for something else. It is literally an inflammation of the pancreas. If you suspect your dog has pancreatitis you need to take her to the vet immediately.

The pancreas releases enzymes that help digestion. The enzymes only become active when they reach the small intestine. With pancreatitis the enzymes activate immediately upon release which inflames the pancreas and its surrounding tissue and organs. As these are digestive enzymes, this can cause your pancreas to literally digest itself. That is extremely painful and potentially life threatening.

You need to know what signs to look for in your dog. These are typical symptoms of pancreatitis:

  • Vomiting
  • Painful abdomen
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Hunched back
  • Loss of appetitie
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Fever

If your dog is show one of these symptoms infrequently then you should monitor her. But is she has more than one, and has them multiple times, call your Albuquerque vet immediately.


The biggest cause of pancreatitis in dogs is a high fat diet, especially if they get one large serving of fatty food in a single sitting. Obesity, which is a sign of a high fat diet, can put your dog at higher risk. Hypothyroidism, blunt trauma diabetes mellitus, some medications, and a genetic predisposition can all put your dog at higher risk.



Once your dog has had an attack of pancreatitis they are more likely to get it again. If diagnosed, your vet will likely recommend a change in diet and suggest some dietary supplements such as fish oil. It is important to consult with your vet before giving your dog any supplements and to make sure she is on a proper diet to reduce the likelihood of another attack.

Train You Dog To Wear a Muzzle

albuquerque muzzle

albuquerque muzzleWearing a muzzle is a great training tool, good for social situations with other animals, and good to help prevent any potential accidents from aggressive behavior. But you don’t just want to throw a muzzle on your dog, you need to train them on how to wear it so the muzzle becomes something they welcome instead of something they fear.

Start with Puppies

The easiest time to teach your dog to wear a muzzle is when they are a puppy. Puppies can be taught to wear muzzles and have the training integrated into play and touch training so they associate the muzzle with affection and good times.

Fitting a muzzle

A bad fitting muzzle is an ineffective muzzle. During early stages of muzzle training, you don’t need it to fit properly. You only need it to fit enough to fit on their face until they learn to put their face into it willingly. Once your dog training is done, then it is time to get a muzzle that fits your dogs place properly.

A good rule is that a muzzle fits snugly but isn’t tight. Your dog should be able to open their mouth but not all the way. When fitting your muzzle it is a good idea to get the help from your trainer or vet.

Muzzle Training

The first part of muzzle training is to get your dog to place her face in the muzzle.

  1. Hold the muzzle with the opening facing your dog and keep the straps folded back and out of the way.
  2. Show her the muzzle and use a click sound then give her a treat. Your dog just needs to look at the muzzle, hear the click to get the reward.
  3. Once your dog is comfortable with looking at the muzzle, start moving it closer to their face. Get them to look at the muzzle, make the click and give them a treat. Generally 5 to 20 times at each stage is good for reinforcing behavior.
  4. Once the muzzle is close to their face, ask them to look at the muzzle, make the click and say muzzle or face and put a treat inside the muzzle so your dog has to go into the muzzle to get the treat.
  5. One comfortable getting it inside the muzzle, offer the treat from the outside of the muzzle so your dog has to put her face into the muzzle before being able to get the treat.
  6. Once your dog starts pushing her face into the muzzle, start buckling it. Give her a treat for putting her face in the muzzle and then again after buckling.
  7. Then start only giving the treat after buckling the muzzle.
  8. Once your dog is comfortable putting their face in the muzzle and having it buckled, practice doing it at different heights and angles. Some dogs are good at one height but not another, and you want to make sure your dog accepts the muzzle in any position.

Remember that muzzles are not scary. It will be no time before your dog is excited to put on her muzzle.

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The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.