Petrelocation.com - We are constantly asked about the use of Sedation or Tranquilizers when flying our customers' pets. The answer is simply, NO! It is the worse thing you can do to your pet when flying them.
According to American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), air transport of sedated pets may be fatal. Over sedation is the most frequent cause of animal deaths during airline transport and accounts for more than half of all deaths when flying. Except in unusual circumstances, veterinarians should not dispense sedatives for animals that are to be transported.
Little is known about the effects of sedation on animals that are under the stress of transportation and enclosed in cages at 8,000 feet or higher, the altitude at which cargo holds are pressurized. Additionally, some animals react abnormally to sedatives. Although animals may be excitable while being handled during the trip to the airport and prior to loading, they probably revert to a quiescent resting state in the dark, closed cargo hold, and the sedatives may have an excessive effect.
The effects of sedating drugs are unpredictable at air pressures inside an aircraft, which are equivalent to 8,000 ft altitude. At this pressure, the physiologic changes from sedatives/tranquilizers may be enhanced. There have been a number of instances where sedated pets traveling by air needed veterinary care to recover from the sedation. Some pets could not be revived. Occasionally, owners have given repeated doses to ensure a comfortable journey for their pet. When questioned by airline personnel, many owners claim that their veterinarians had advised them to do so.
Although sedatives/tranquilizers should never be repeated for animals traveling by air, sedated pets may have adverse reactions in pressurized aircraft even when single doses are administered at recommended dosages. Animals can respond very differently to sedatives/tranquilizers under normal circumstances. Cats for instance, occasionally become more excited following the administration of "sedating" drugs
"An animal's natural ability to balance and maintain equilibrium is altered under sedation," noted Dr. Patricia Olson, a director of the American Humane Association (AHA). "When the kennel is moved, a sedated animal may not be able to brace and prevent injury." JAVMA, Vol 207, No.l 6, September 15, 1995.
œIncreased altitude can also create respiratory and cardiovascular problems for dogs and cats that are sedated or tranquilized. Brachycephalic (pug or snub nosed) dogs and cats are especially affected Insight, May/June 1997
Rather than tranquilizing, pre-condition your pet to its travel container! According to the Air Transport Association, "As far in advance of the trip as possible, let your pet get to know the flight kennel. Veterinarians recommend leaving it open in the house with a chew bone or other familiar objects inside so that your pet will spend time in the kennel. It is important for your dog or cat to be as relaxed as possible during the flight"--