If you are planning on flying with your furry friend, then you may be wondering about giving your pet a sedative to help relieve the stress of the journey. Although taking the edge off with a little medication might seem like a good idea, sedatives can be unpredictable, and the risks could outweigh the benefits.
Sedatives Can Be Unpredictable
While a particular sedative may calm one dog, the same medication at the same dose in another dog could actually cause increased agitation. It’s impossible to know how an individual pet will react to a particular medication, so performing a trial before travel is important.
Even with a previously used sedative, a pet’s response to a medication may be altered during the stress of airline travel.
Side Effects Can Be Dangerous
Even if a medication is effectively sedating, the possible risks of the medication should also be considered.
Heavy sedatives lower blood pressure, decrease reaction times, interfere with balance, and decrease an animal’s ability to regulate body temperature. In the unattended confines of a cargo hold, these issues can lead to issues such as hypothermia, injury from movement, or suffocation from lying in unusual positions.
Prepare For Travel With Crate Training
Instead of using drugs, train your pet for air travel. The most important aspect of this process is crate training.
Before adding the stressful element of air travel, your pet should first be comfortable in a crate. Make sure your crate is the right size. Your pet should be able to stand without ducking.
If you have the right crate, but your pet is anxious about being confined, then crate training is needed. This should be a gradual process, or a serious phobia could develop.
Some pets feel trapped in a crate if they aren’t used to it, so start by keeping the door open. Give treats and feed meals in the crate. If your pet is too scared to even go in, then start giving rewards around the crate and eventually work further and further into the space.
Work on short times of confinement in the crate, always stopping training sessions before your pet becomes anxious. Eventually, work up to long periods of confined crate time.
When your pet is comfortable in the crate at home, then take the crate into the car for a short ride, slowly working up to longer trips. Car rides are a good step towards flying in an airplane.
Ideally, crate training should start at least one month in advance of air travel. More time may be needed for very anxious animals.
If you don’t think that you can crate train your pet, then watch this video. If that dog can be the pilot of an airplane, then chances are good that you can train your dog to be a good passenger, even without drugs.