Preparing for Overseas Travel With Your Shih Tzu By Karol King
Published June 9, 2019
Thirty-seven percent of dog owners have skipped a vacation to avoid leaving their dog behind.
Three percent even confess to disguising their pooch as a baby to try and get them on board a plane. But there’s no need to take such drastic measures with your beloved Shih Tzu as their compact size means they can travel on board the plane with you.
However, as Shih Tzus have snub noses which can inhibit their breathing, it’s essential that you’re fully prepared for your Shih Tzu’s first trip overseas.
Fifty Eight Percent of dogs in America are overweight or obese, according to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention.
However, as a snub nose dog who is overweight or obese will find it even more difficult to breathe than usual, you should ensure that your Shih Tzu is a healthy weight before flying with him or her.
Vets recommend that an adult Shih Tzu weighs between 9 and 16 pounds. So, if your fluffy bundle of fun falls the wrong side of this, be sure to ditch the treats and up the exercise in the weeks leading up to your flight.
You will want to carefully consider the airline you chose before booking your flight. There are several airlines, including Delta, Air Alaska, and American Airlines, which allow dogs to travel in the passenger cabin. Although there are often restrictions in place regarding travel.
Unless you are traveling with a service dog, you will be required to pay an additional fee.
It’s highly recommended that you arrange for your Shih Tzu to fly in the cabin with you as he or she will be more reassured and relaxed with you by his side.
This is advantageous for his breathing as it means it will remain normal. As such, when you’re planning a trip with your dog, always check the rules regarding dogs in the cabin, including the paperwork and carrier required.
When a Shih Tzu is stressed they don’t breathe in air as well as they should, and this can result in them falling ill. With this in mind, it’s essential that you eliminate as much stress and anxiety from your dog’s first overseas trip as possible.
You can do this by spending the weeks leading up to your flight getting him, or her used to spending time in the carrier that he’ll be traveling in around the airport and on the plane. This can be done by making the carrier an inviting and calming environment for your pooch.
By setting it up in your sitting room, placing your dog’s blanket, favorite treats, and much-loved toys inside it, your Shih Tzu’s nosiness will soon get the better of him, and he’ll wander inside.
From there, start locking your pet inside the crate while offering plenty of reassurance. You can then gradually build up the amount of time he spends in there to ensure that he’s entirely happy and comfortable with the environment before you take to the skies.
The size of a Shih Tzu’s nose can make it difficult for them to breathe in hot temperatures and when the humidity and pressure are high.
You should carefully consider the time of year that you fly with your Shih Tzu as being holed up in a stuffy plane on the tarmac and flying through the air in peak temperatures could be detrimental to your pet’s respiratory health. Instead, choose to fly during the cooler months. If this can’t be avoided, opt for an early morning or late night flight where temperatures are considerably cooler than they are during the day.
Some of the nation’s favorite vacation destinations include Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Dominican Republic. However, it’s common for flights to these locations to involve a scheduled stop and for you to have to board at least one connecting flight.
This is far from ideal when you’re traveling with a Shih Tzu who is prone to breathing difficulties as indirect flights considerably increase your travel time.
Also, your miniature pooch will also experience more stress, which can affect the way he or she breathes while being cooped up in a crate or carrier. So, for the sake of your Shih Tzu’s health always pay extra for direct flights to your destination of choice.
If there is no way you would be able to fly direct with your dog, the next best thing is to limit your itinerary to one layover only. Each airport is different, so it is recommend that you ask before traveling about pet accommodations.
Most airports will allow you to walk your dog on a leash but some expect you to keep the dog in the carrier. Dogs are like people, they get hungry, thirsty and must eliminate at regular intervals.
You will not be able to pack water but you can purchase bottled water once inside the terminal. Bring a light snack and dishes along.
Locate the pet relief area in the the airports (Departure, Arrival and Layover). Most should have waste pick up bags, but pack a few just in case. Always clean up after your pet.
The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that short-nosed breeds of dogs including Shih Tzus are checked over by a qualified veterinarian at least 10 days before air travel.
During this appointment, your vet will be able to provide you with advice on how to keep your Shih Tzu calm and content during your flight. Also, your vet will be able to provide you with all the papers that your Shih Tzu requires to be able to board the plane problem-free. (Health Certificate, Rabies Certificate, etc.)
If your Shih Tzu takes regular medications, assure you have an adequate supply before you leave the country.
This will benefit your pooch’s breathing as it means there’s no risk of him being parted from you at the airport and becoming distressed as he’s put in quarantine. Similarly, for peace of mind, it’s worth getting your Shih Tzu checked over by a vet when you arrive on vacation. This, therefore, means you’ll have to do your homework and obtain details of the local vet before you leave home.
Many countries including those in the EU have specific microchip requirements. The ISO microchip is require in the EU and in some non-EU countries.
Be sure your dog has the required microchip. If it was injected by your vet, they will be able to tell you whether it was an ISO compliant one (11784 and 11785) EU transponders do not read non-ISO microchips. You can always purchase an ISO microchip on line and take it to your vet to be inserted if your vet facility does not carry them.
You know your Shih Tzu better than anyone else. And if you think that anxiety and stress will take hold of your furry companion regardless of the other steps you’ll be taking, then you should consider whether medication will make the flight more comfortable for your pet.
Anti-anxiety medications can be obtained after a thorough health check and examination by your vet.
However, give your dog a chance to get used to being in the air before you administer the medication as you may find that he calms down within ten minutes of taking off.
No Shih Tzu owner wants to leave their playful and energetic furry companion at home while they go on vacation.
Thankfully, there’s no need to when you follow these tips for safe air travel with your pint-sized snub-nosed pooch.
Karol is animal lover who has dedicated her life to helping dogs to find a safe and happy home. She now works as a freelance writer, which is her passion, and has the freedom to spend more time at home with her wonderful family.