Dear Daisy Dog
We’ll be moving soon, and we’re trying to decide whether Coalie, our German shepherd, should move by plane or car. Should we give him a tranquilizer?
Ask your veterinarian, and together you can figure out what’s best for Coalie, given his health and personality.
Every year, an estimated 5000 animals are lost or injured – or die – during transport in airline cargo holds. The causes are temperature extremes (cold at high altitudes, heat while waiting on the tarmac), decreased oxygen, and rough handling.
Cats and small dogs can sometimes fly in the cabin with their people, but Coalie will probably have to travel in the cargo hold.
To minimize problems, take the same plane Coalie does, choose a non-stop flight, and be wary of tranquilizers which can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature and oxygenate the blood.
Minimize temperature extremes by flying during the afternoon in the winter, during the early morning or evening in the summer.
Don’t travel during busy holidays since pets may be subjected to rougher handling by overworked ground crews at peak travel times.
Put identifying information (including destination phone number) on the carrier and his collar, and be sure the collar won’t get stuck in the carrier’s door.
Don’t feed him for 4-6 hours before the flight, but do provide water until 1 hour before flight time.
If you drive, be sure to stop every few hours to let Coalie get out and stretch his legs.