Tranquilizing Dogs


I have a question for you about tranquilizing...Last year I flew a young dog to Tennessee and during the vet check she had before hand, I mentioned if the Dr. thought she should be lightly tranquilized.......He gave me 2-3, and said to give her one just before the plane trip......I shipped her on Delta Air Cargo....and the counter person had a fit about the dog having a tranquilizer...He went on about how people should check with the company doing the flying, and that they were the experts about flying dogs, that many vets didn't understand the procedure they use when flying dogs.... What do you say?


I wouldn't really call 99.999% of the people doing the shipping in airlines "the experts" on these matters. There may be one or two souls that work in the airlines that know exactly what's going on, but I've never talked to them (or been able to reach them). Most can't tell you what breed of dog it is and most are inevitably just "doing their jobs". Nice people on the whole but certainly not the experts. Don't pick up the phone and expect to speak to Dr. Delta Dash, DVM. She ain't there and even if she does work for them, she's probably on vacation.

There was a study not too long ago concerning whether or not to tranqulize dogs when shipping them via airlines. The conclusion of the study (sorry, I don't have the cite onhand) was that dogs being shipped were far too medicated and didn't need to be tranquilized at all. An alert dog was capable of dealing with the situations that arose en route, medicated ones were not. The study cited the fact that of all (I think, or at least an overwhelming percentage) the dog deaths resulting from transport (where no accident occurred), the dogs were tranquilized. Of those deaths, about 50% were the result of pure overdoses.

I don't go that overboard (no pun intended) when shipping dogs but I do take it into consideration. I don't think most dogs need to be medicated. The incredibly high-strung ones may need to be but not to an extreme. If the dog absolutely needs to be tranquilized, I tend to err on the low side - undermedicating rather than risking too much tranquilizer. It may be important e to "take the edge off" some of the very hyper dogs - kind of like drinking a beer or two before your flight. Enough to slightly relax you but not so much to impair you. The dogs should be alert when they are loaded on the plane - top notch when they reach their destination.

I would also suggest "testing" the drug on the dog (not a substitute dog, drug, or dosage) to see the effect, several days before shipping. The big day is not the time to be finding out what not to do. Some tranquilizers can actually "enhance" the dog's personality and you can get the opposite reaction to what you're intending. This depends on the exact tranquilizer you're using and the individual dog. Some of the psychotrophic drugs can have bizarre effects on different dogs.

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