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Calming Pets During Air Travel: Addressing Myths and Facts on Pre-Flight Sedatives

In the dynamic world of pet travel, ensuring the comfort and safety of our animal companions during flights is a priority. At 0x Cargo Pet Travel, we frequently address concerns about the use of sedatives for pets in transit. There have been rumors that veterinarians routinely use barbiturate-class drugs to sedate animals during flights. Let's clear up some misconceptions and discuss the actual medications commonly used to reduce stress in pets while traveling by air.

Calming Pets During Air Travel: Addressing Myths and Facts on Pre-Flight Sedatives

Understanding the Use of Pre-Flight Sedatives

The goal of using pre-flight sedatives is not to deeply sedate the animal but to alleviate anxiety enough to manage them safely during travel. This is quite different from the sedatives used prior to surgery; the aim here is to keep the pet calm, not unconscious.

Why Consider Pre-Flight Sedatives?

Did you know that less than half of all dogs remain calm entering an unfamiliar environment like an airport, and only about a quarter of cats do? Stress can persist even after reaching their new destination. A low-stress environment and gentle handling might not be enough for pets that are extremely anxious about travel, which can make managing them safely challenging.

Calming Pets During Air Travel: Addressing Myths and Facts on Pre-Flight Sedatives

Commonly Used Medications for Pet Air Travel

  1. Gabapentin: Initially used for pain relief, gabapentin has shown promise in reducing anxiety in pets. Studies suggest dosages ranging from 13.0-29.4 mg/kg for house cats and 9.3-71.4 mg/kg for stray cats, administered about 90 minutes before travel. For dogs, the dosage is around 20mg/kg, although more research is needed to establish its effectiveness fully.

  2. Trazodone: This medication is more sedative than anxiolytic, which means it tends to make pets sleepy rather than just calm. This can be beneficial when physical restraint during travel is necessary. Dosages vary widely, with dogs receiving about 3.5-12 mg/kg and cats 7.7-33.3 mg/kg, administered 90 minutes before travel.

  3. Oral Mucosal Dexmedetomidine: This drug is widely used in veterinary medicine for sedation during procedures and has been formulated for oral transmucosal absorption, particularly useful in dogs to reduce noise phobia. A study showed its potential to decrease stress before veterinary visits, significantly reducing stress responses and escape behaviors in dogs. The recommended dosage is based on body surface area and requires only about 20-30 minutes to take effect.

  4. Alprazolam: Part of the benzodiazepine class, alprazolam is used both as a pre-anesthetic sedative and for managing anxiety. It can be administered to dogs in dosages ranging from 0.02-0.04 mg/kg and to cats from 0.0125-0.025 mg/kg or 0.125-1mg per cat, around 30-60 minutes before travel.

  5. Introducing Bonqat®: A New Option for Pet Sedation On April 15, 2024, the animal health giant Zoetis announced the launch of a new drug, Bonqat® (Pregabalin Oral Solution) at a concentration of 50 mg/ml, in the United States. This medication is specifically designed for veterinary use and offers a new avenue for managing anxiety in pets during air travel.

Calming Pets During Air Travel: Addressing Myths and Facts on Pre-Flight Sedatives

Consultation Is Key

Before considering sedatives for air travel, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian. They can assess your pet’s health, discuss the risks and benefits of various medications, and determine the most appropriate treatment to ensure a safe and calm journey.

Final Thoughts

As professionals dedicated to pet travel, our goal at 0x Cargo Pet Travel is to manage pet anxiety effectively and safely, promoting a stress-free travel experience. We understand the complexity of choosing the right approach for each pet and are here to help guide pet owners through these decisions.

For any further advice on traveling with your pets or if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to ensure that your beloved companions travel comfortably and safely.


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