RSPCA commends action from airlines to address air travel risks for flat-faced pets

RSPCA Australia has welcomed this week’s announcements from both Qantas and Virgin Australia, introducing new measures to protect flat-faced dog and cat breeds from the high risks they face during air travel.

RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Zito said the announcements represented vital recognition of the serious health risks resulting from extreme features in dogs and cats.

“Transporting any animal can be risky, but these flat-faced or ‘brachycephalic’ breeds are at particularly high risk as their extreme features mean they often struggle to breathe and regulate their body temperature effectively – even in mild conditions, let alone at the hottest times of the year, or on a plane,” said Dr Zito.

“The moves by both Qantas and Virgin Australia to suspend air transport of these breeds, and review and revise their policies and introduce new policies aimed to reduce risk to animals, are positive steps that show that the airlines are listening to the concerns of pet owners about the risks posed to pets during flights.

“However, the RSPCA believes the inherent risks to these flat-faced breeds are unfortunately so great, that even with the best care, we believe transporting them by air is simply too dangerous. We would urge owners to avoid flying these breeds at all if possible, and if air travel is considered absolutely necessary, owners should speak to their vet and be very aware of the dangers.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the airlines to progress this issue, and would urge all other airlines to implement a similar approach immediately, to avoid tragedies like those we’ve seen recently,” said Dr Zito.

The RSPCA contines to advocate for breeders to move away from the very extreme brachycephalic (flat-faced) characteristics in dog and cat breeds, because of the inherent welfare compromise to the animals and the health issues and risks that result from their exaggerated features. Find out more at