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Canine Travel By Air

Aug 3, 2016

In our mobile society, chances are your dog will travel with you at some time. When possible, prepare your pet by gradually exposing it to the elements or sequences of the trip. If your pet is not used to traveling, brief frequent trips are the best way to expose it to this experience. The steps are detailed below. As long as your pet’s basic comforts are attended to, the trip should go well. For short trips, remove food at least two hours before leaving. For longer trips, remove food several hours beforehand. You may feed your pet after the trip. Offer small amounts of water until an hour before travel. Depending on the length of the trip, water bowls may or may not be left in the carrier. Play with your pet or engage in some kind of positive interaction before you leave home. If your pet is well exercised before it is confined, it will be more comfortable. Make sure your dog has had a long walk before its confinement. Your pet will be less likely to become nauseated or to soil itself during confinement if it is given every opportunity to void before departure. Most pets become adjusted to travel with frequent travel opportunities. They may feel more secure if they’re confined to a sturdy and well-ventilated carrier. Small dogs may learn to travel in a pet carrier. Large dogs may be confined behind special gates that section off the back of the motor vehicle.

 

Have your pet’s general health evaluated by a veterinarian before you leave on a long trip. Ideally, this should not be left for the last minute. Vaccinations should also be updated at this time. If you are going out of the country, your veterinarian will be able to advise you regarding pet health problems prevalent at your destination.


Fear and Anxiety During Travel

Regardless of the mode of transportation several behavioral problems may arise because of fear. Fear may cause excitability, agitation, hyperventilation, vocalization, aggressiveness, nausea, vomiting, defecation and urination. Destruction of the interior of your car or pet carrier may indicate fear or anxiety, particularly if the pet is isolated from you. A pet can turn its fear or anxiety against itself and engage in excessive self-grooming during the trip. Fearful responses to travel may worsen or remain relatively constant over time. Your pet may become fearful before a trip if it learns to recognize signs of departure. The stress of travel can decrease your pet’s resistance to disease. Intense fear can result in serious illness in animals with undiagnosed or unapparent ailments.

Use of Sedatives or Tranquilizers

Tranquilizers or sedatives intended to ease your pet’s fear during transport are usually not necessary. Such drugs should probably be preserved for pets that suffer from extreme fear or anxiety during travel, and should only be used at your veterinarian’s
recommendation. The type of medication and dosage must be appropriate for your pet’s age, temperament, degree of emotional upset during travel, duration of travel and physical status. Most drugs used for this purpose are short acting, with a peak affect
lasting only several hours. For longer trips, it may not be worthwhile to sedate your pet, though it may help it through the first part of the trip. The risk of tranquilizing your pet must be weighed against the benefits. Some pets become more anxious when a tranquilizer
begins to take effect. An adverse reaction may make the pet agitated and excitable. It may help to do a test run by giving a dose of the medication a few days before travel so to observe its effects on your pet. If your pet’s only problem during travel is vomiting,
medication to combat motion sickness may be all that is required.

Air Travel

If you are planning to fly with your dog, inquire first about the airline’s policy regarding the transport of pets. Speak with your travel agent and the airline when making your flight plants. This information could help to decide which airline best suits your needs. Avoid
making reservations first and then discovering unacceptable conditions regarding your, pet’s travel. If your pet is to be kept in the baggage compartment, ask about the conditions there. If you are told that the temperature and the baggage compartment will
be cooler than what your pet is used to, place an extra blanket in its crate. Unless your dog is used to wearing a coat, this is probably not a good time to start, as overheating is as uncomfortable as feeling cold. A healthy pet can stand slight temperature fluctuations.
Ask whether anyone attends the pets in transit. Unless you are traveling for longer than a day, or you can take your pet out during stopovers, it is probably best to keep visits to a minimum. Your pet will be made more anxious by seeing you, only to watch you leave.
You will be reassured if the airline employee agrees to give you reports at regular intervals. Airlines always require animals to travel in crates or carriers. Airlines may provide a crate suitable for your pet or may require that you supply your own crate. The
crate should be spacious to allow your pet to stand and turn around comfortably. It should not be overly large, however, as this could lead to injury. Some crates intended for small dogs are designed to slide under your airplane seat. These crates are somewhat
cramped, but many pets feel more secure in the smaller space for short periods. A crate must allow for adequate ventilation. Labels should clearly indicate that the crate contains live animals. Bedding should be soft and absorbent but not excessive. A favorite towel or
blanket may reassure your pet, particularly if it holds your scent. Depending on the length of your trip, you may be better off to leave the crate empty of everything but the pet. If your pet is tranquilized, do not leave food or water in the crate. Obtain the crate long
before traveling day. Introduce your pet to the crate by allowing it to investigate. Play with the animal, tossing toys into or near the crate. Place its food or water in the crate. Try to acclimate the pet to remaining in the crate for longer periods. If you will be using a
handheld carrier or concerned that an excitable pet will disturb other passengers, it may be appropriate to get tranquilizers from your veterinarian. If the pet is traveling in the passenger compartment, you have the advantage of being nearby to reassure the pet
that all is well. As the tranquilizers effects begin to fade on longer trips, you will need to be nearby to repeat the dose according to your veterinarian’s instructions.