Don’t Use a Tranquilizer to Travel

Don’t Use a Tranquilizer to Travel

Pets and pets supplies.  BC. Seniors 101, Island Voices promoting the products and services available for seniors on Vancouver Island.People ask me if they should tranquilize their dog or cat for a journey. The answer is NO!

There are two reasons. One is that the effect of tranquilizers is unpredictable. Think of how some people react to morphine. Some fall asleep. Others get totally looped and hyperalert. Imagine a cat ready to attack for no reason and you can see why I don’t want to chance a problem.

The other issue is lack of effectiveness. A landmark study looked at dogs on a one-hour flight. Half received a tranquilizer and the other half got no medication. There was no difference in behavior. Both groups were active on take-off but they soon settled into sleep with the drone of the engines. In fact, the non-drugged dogs fell asleep faster!

Some airlines have, in fact, banned tranquilizers because of the increased death risk. Yes, I said death. The medication slows circulation and they can’t take the cold or change in pressure.

If you are travelling in the car, you need to get your pet used to being there. This is called desensitization. Start with feeding your dog/cat beside or in the car. Willingness to take food tells you the stress level. If s/he won’t eat, you’ve taken it too far already. Move back to where treats are eaten.

Over time (weeks/months), get the pet in the car, then relaxed if the engine starts, the same when the car moves a little, and finally eating on a longer trip. The end result – your pet enjoys car rides.

By Dr. Jeff Grognet and Mike Annan, ACE Academy