Is it Safe To Sedate Animals for Pet Relocation?


Traveling is stressful enough without worrying about how your pet will handle the move. Make a plan and be assured that your animals are safe.


If most humans struggle with anxiety during air travel, imagine how your pet must feel. Whether it’s a short domestic flight or an international haul, your pet’s anxiety is likely to be through-the-roof.

This is because they’ve been separated from you, and the environment that they know. An airplane is not exactly comfortable, either — in fact, it’ll be completely foreign to your pet.

This begs the question of what you can do to help them relax and make it through the journey. To learn more about safe ways to make your furry friend comfortable during pet relocation, just keep on reading.

Are Sedatives a Good Idea During Pet Relocation?

You may have heard that you can keep your pet calm during a flight with the help of sedatives or tranquilizers. While this may be a popular option during animal transport, it’s not always the best choice.


Here are the downsides of pet sedation:

  1. Respiratory Risks 

Traveling by air may be a completely new and frightening experience for any pet. Especially if they are confined to a small space in the cargo hold of an aircraft. But the risks of sedating your pet are not always worth it as animal sedatives are known to cause respiratory issues.

As the altitude pressure rises during take-off and throughout the flight, sedatives or tranquilizers tend to suppress respiratory function and put unnecessary pressure on the cardiovascular system.

Some dog breeds are a little more prone to these issues, such as Chow Chows and Pugs. All-in-all, it’s best not to take the risk.

  1. It Can Throw off Their Equilibrium

The use of sedatives and tranquilizers is not a good idea because it can have a negative effect on your pet’s sense of balance. Overall, this will make your pet all-the-more anxious as they struggle to move around when needed.

  1. It Affects Their Instinctive Reactions

If you’ve ever taken a sedative or sleeping pill before, you’ll know full well how it makes you feel woozy — almost like an out-of-body experience. Well, your pet feels the exact same thing.

The result is that this can only add to their panic and anxiety as their instinctive animal reactions are completely inhibited. This means they will not be able to control their movements during take-off, landing, and turbulence, which can make the situation worse.

  1. An Increased Risk of Injury 

Due to the fact that sedatives will make your pet woozy, unable to control their movements, and feel totally off-balance, this increases their risk of injury during the flight.

When the plane moves or jolts during turbulence, your pet will have trouble steadying themselves or correcting their balance. This leads to hard knocks, bumps, and falls which can cause injury.

Top Pre-Flight Factors to Consider

Before you make the decision to relocate your pet on a flight, you’ll need to keep some factors in mind. First of all, you want to consider the age of your pet and the quality of their health.

Before your flight, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your vet to establish whether your pet is travel-ready. If your pet is over the age of 10 years old, they may not be able to withstand air travel.

Your vet is the best person to consult regarding sedation or other safe methods before a flight. They can provide recommendations of alternatives to help keep your furry friend calm.

Top Alternatives to Keep Your Pet Calm During Air Travel

Once you’ve had your veterinary check-up and your pet has been cleared for travel, you’ll want to think about alternatives to keep them calm. If you’d prefer to stay away from sedatives or tranquilizers, here are a few options:

  1. Acquaint Them With a Travel Carrier 

You’ll need to transport your pet with a travel carrier, this is generally an airline requirement. So, it’s a good idea to get them acquainted with it first.

By familiarizing your pet with the travel carrier for a few weeks beforehand, this reduces their level of stress and anxiety when it comes time to use it. This way, it won’t be such a shock when they are confined to the small space during travel.

You’ll need to invest in an IATA-approved travel carrier in the right size to suit your pet. Make the space as comfortable and familiar as possible, and gradually increase their use of the carrier until it comes time to travel.

  1. Opt for Herbal Stress Relief 

There are a number of herbal remedies on the market today that can help your pet remain calm during air travel. They typically include ingredients such as chamomile and lavender to ward off anxiety, without the negative side-effects.

Just be sure to check with your vet on the best-suited herbal stress relief options before you administer them.

  1. Use an Anxiety Jacket

This is another great option to keep your pet calm. The constant, but gentle weight and pressure of an anxiety jacket will help to soothe your pet and ward off their fear.

  1. Use a Calming Spray

It’s a good idea to spray your pet’s travel crate with calming spray in order to familiarize them with the smell and keep their anxiety at bay during travel. You want to opt for an oil-based spray that mimics natural pheromones to make your pet feel comfortable.

Some of the best calming scents include valerian, chamomile, and lavender for both dogs and cats. Always chat to your vet beforehand and get the go-ahead on your chosen calming spray before using it.

Find Pet Lover’s Advice Just a Click Away

Pet relocation doesn’t have to be a completely traumatic experience for either of you. With enough preparation before your travel date, you can ensure your beloved furry family member is comfortable and calm during air travel.

If you’re an avid dog lover (who isn’t?), and a proud pet owner, don’t miss out on the rest of this site. We offer a range of advice on how to optimize your dog’s health, as well as the best dog supplies, food, accessories, and more.



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