Can Dogs be Sedated for Flights?

Dog on blanketIf you’re taking your pet on holiday or relocating abroad with your pooch you’re likely going to have to take them on a flight, which can result in you panicking about how they will handle the journey.

Travelling can be very stressful for any animal, especially air travel as it often means that they will have to be separated from you and spend a significant amount of time in an unfamiliar environment. This can be unsettling for both of you and one of the most frequently asked questions we get is “Can I sedate my dog on a flight?”. It’s advised that you don’t and here is why.

Can cause respiratory problems

Yes, travelling by air is frightening for your furry friend and a lot of anxiety can come with the experience especially when riding in the cargo of the plane. However, this doesn’t mean you should sedate your dog in order to help them relax and enjoy the flight.

In fact, it states in the Heathrow Airport guide that the sedation of pets is not recommended and in some cases, it’s prohibited. This is due to sedatives and tranquilisers increasing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular problems when the altitude pressure rises.

There are certain types of breeds that are more prone to this condition such as Pugs and Chow Chows but all breeds can suffer and it’s best not to risk it.

Affects your pet’s equilibrium

Another reason that you shouldn’t sedate your pet on a flight is that it can quite seriously affect your pet’s equilibrium. It’s been stated that a pet’s natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation.

Makes them feel woozy

Putting your pet under sedation can also make your pet feel woozy causing them to panic and inflict additional stress on them whilst in their carrier. The sedation will also hinder their instincts and movements meaning they won’t be able to react when then taking off, landing and if there’s any turbulence or jolting during the flight.

What you need to consider

Before taking your beloved pooch on a plane there are two things you need to consider:

  • their health
  • their age

It’s advised that you always consult your vet before you travel by plane with your dog as they will often provide recommendations for your pet when it comes to flying or advise against it if they have concerns. Especially if your fur baby is over the age of 10, travelling in a plane’s cargo is best avoided.

If they have serious health issues the airline might refuse to let them on board due to the risks, in this case, it’s better to make other arrangements for your pet such as staying with friends or family whilst you go galavanting.

The alternatives

If you’ve spoken to your vet, your pet has been cleared of any major health issues and you’ve decided to go ahead with taking them on the plane there are alternatives to make your pet feel safe and comfortable which excludes sedation.

Introduce them to their travel carrier

Getting them comfortable and familiar in their travel carrier beforehand can significantly help reduce their stress levels when it comes to travelling. If they have already been introduced to the carrier it won’t come as such a shock to them when they are confined to it.

Herbal stress relievers

Herbal stress relievers such as lavender and chamomile are sometimes recommended. These natural remedies can ease anxiety without having any effects on the brain but to be certain it’s best to check with your vet before you administer these.

Anxiety jacket

An anxiety-reducing jacket hugs your fur baby and creates an instant sense of calm.  These jackets are vet recommended and they work by applying gentle, constant pressure to calm anxiety and fear so that there’s no need to use medication.