What are some tips on how to prepare your dog for a flight in cargo?

Original Question: I have an 11-year-old English Springer Spaniel who is in great health except for excessive panting when we're eating, when she is riding in the car or when she is excited about going for a walk. We are in the process of moving to Alberta and Riley will be riding on a plane for the first time on the evening of June 13th. We have an extra large carrier with room for her to stand and turn around. She will be in the kennel for about 6 hours and I am worried about the excessive panting. I have purchased a bottle of Adaptil, which I sprayed in the kennel (no real results were evident) and my vet has suggested melatonin however this hasn't seemed to matter much either. Any ideas? - Kathi

What are some tips on how to prepare your dog for a flight in cargo? May 28, 2017

Hi Kathi,

Thanks for your question.

It sounds like your veterinarian is doing a great job and has offered some safe options to start with. The calming diffuser and melatonin for dogs can have an effect but with other dogs, it just doesn’t do a good enough job. The benefit of these options is that they are safe and readily available and they have no concerning side effects that you don’t need to seriously monitor your dog when giving them. It sounds like they just aren’t doing a good enough job and other options need to be considered.

The first option that I would suggest would be the use of dimenhydrinate. This is an anti-nausea medication that can reduce motion sickness but will also cause a mild sedative effect. You can ask your vet about the proper dosage and of course consult with him before you give any medication. This may be effective enough to solve your problem or it may not be strong enough.

When it comes to how to prepare your dog for a flight in cargo you may need a stronger medication. The first thing you and our vet should consider is treating the hyperactivity and also reducing his anxiety. The best thing to use is a sedative and an anti-anxiety medication at the same time. There are many options for this and your veterinarian will be able to suggest some. Ask your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications such as Clomipramine and Fluoxetine to reduce general anxiety. At times of short, high-intensity stress such as the impending travel, you may want to consider a sedative such as Acepromazine. A dog sedative for flying should always be combined with an anti-anxiety supplement or medication as they can still feel stressed while sedated. You can speak to your vet about these options and he will discuss the pros and cons of each and the health-related issues to pay attention to when using them.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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What are some tips on how to prepare your dog for a flight in cargo?
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What are some tips on how to prepare your dog for a flight in cargo?
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The first option that I would suggest would be the use of dimenhydrinate. This is an anti-nausea medication that can reduce motion sickness but will also cause a mild sedative effect. You can ask your vet about the proper dosage and of course consult with him before you give any medication.
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