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Do Not Sedate Your Pet

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So, your beloved pooch or kitty will be travelling by plane soon and you really really want to give her a little something to help her relax, right? You feel certain that she'll be frightened by the noise and the strange surroundings and will simply not understand what is going on, all of which means she absolutely will need something to help her chill. Right?

Actually, no. In fact, although all these concerns are absolutely real and valid, the solution is exactly the opposite of what you think it should be - sedating pets for flight is NOT a good idea. You see, sedation does not change your pet's perception of what is going on (and therefore her feelings about it), it merely affects her ability to cause a fuss in reaction to it. And this just increases her stress because when sedated she cannot behave the way she normally would to such a change to her surroundings... yet she is STILL feeling and experiencing the change!

Furthermore, most drugs used for sedation have the collateral effects of dropping blood pressure and affecting the body's natural ability to regulate its organ function. This can spell real danger for your pet because her body will not respond as it could and should to environment changes, such as air pressure and temperature.

We relocate many hundreds of pets to destinations all over the world every year and it is VERY rare that we have to give anything to help calm a pet's jitters (it has been several years, in fact, since we had any such situations). In these isolated, rare cases, it is imperative that your vet is involved and that the correct drugs for your pet are selected. Most importantly, it is extremely important that sedation of any kind is avoided unless absolutely necessary, and that your vet and an experienced pet shipper contribute objectively to that decision. We know you are worried, but your worry can often lead to an over-anxious decision not best for pet.

Here are a few things you can try which will help your pet (and you) be as well-prepared for her journey as possible: 

  • Helping her feel safe in her travel box is important, so purchase one as far in advance of the flight as you can and encourage her use it, including sleeping in it.
  • Put a piece of your own well-worn clothing into her travel box for the trip so that she has your smell with her for the flight.
  • Using pheromones can often be very helpful. Spraying the travel box with Feliway spray for cats and putting a DHAP collar on dogs will release pheromones that make your pet feel more secure in its box.
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