Should I Sedate My Pet Before Air Travel?

Do I Sedate My Pet For Air Travel?

One of the biggest questions we get at Fido Fitness and Play as a pet transporter is,” Should I sedate my dog or cat for airline travel?”. Contrary to popular opinion – the answer in most cases is a hefty “no”. It has been a popular opinion of many pet transporter professionals in the past to gently sedate a skittish or elderly dog for air travel, but that opinion has changed. The American Veterinary Medical Association strongly discourages the use of any tranquilizer prior to travel. Airlines no longer accept sedated animals.

The primary reason why many experts suggest that sedating your pet prior to travel is not a good thing heavily weighs on the medical risks. Sedation will cause your pet to become very groggy and off-balance. These side effects can confuse your pet which could either raise the level of anxiety or cause your pet to physically harm themselves out of stress delirium while crated. The loud noise of travel becomes a nuisance for the pet. Most animals are territorial – so being in a new environment also adds to the stress and anxiety. Common physical reactions to sedatives in animals are reduced heart rate, lower body temperature, and breathing becomes laborious. Snub-nosed dogs breathing issues could become dangerous.

Nature’s Sedative:

It’s easy to see why sedatives are not advised to give to your traveling pet. However, there are natural remedies that could help ease your pet’s stress and make the trip more tolerable. Every animal responds to remedies differently, so always keep that in mind. Things that work for one pet may not necessarily work in the same fashion for the next. It is always best to consult with your local veterinarian for guidance regarding dosages and frequency prior to using natural remedies. However, here are a few that we suggest:

Valerian – Valerian is a natural herb that is used for calming. Valerian causes drowsiness.

It should not be given to puppies, elderly dogs, or dogs with serious health concerns unless prescribed by a veterinarian. 

Chamomile – Chamomile comes from the Asteraceae plant family. This daisy-like herb flower is normally administered as tea. This healing / soothing agent is used to soothe motion sickness, vomiting, nausea, and a plethora of various ailments. Perhaps enjoying a few sips of chamomile with your pet before travel may be a good idea.

Lavender – Lavender oil not only smells good but it also calms. Not intended to be ingested, but when your pet smells the aroma of lavender, it is scientifically proven to have a calming effect.

Your Pet’s Journey

Your pet’s travel experience can be a positive experience if properly planned. Be sure to think ahead. You know your pet better than anybody. Try to take on the mindset of your pet in determining what would make your pet both comfortable and safe. Perhaps practice crating your pet so that the crate won’t be a symbol of stress and anxiety. Take short journeys prior to the major trip. This will be good practice for you and your pet. Be sure to reward your pet and give lots of love once completed. Believe it or not, your pet can mimic your persona. If you seem edgy, agitated, and fearful, oft times so will your pet. Remember, your pet is watching you, so we must appear confident and in control so that your pet can exude the same.

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