The school holidays are just around the corner and its vacation time again for many and many pet owners who fly with their pets or travel long distances in the car question whether they should sedate their cats when they travel.
Should you sedate your cat?
Sedatives have been used for years in pets to calm them and reduce nervousness, usually in association with loud noises or scary unfamiliar circumstances. However, there are several disadvantages to consider.
Disadvantages of Sedating Cats
For most pets, sedatives are not recommended. Even nervous pets, once they are in a in a pet carrier in a quiet dark place, typically calm down and in some cases even go to sleep.
The primary disadvantage of sedating pets for air travel is that there is no one to check on them or provide medical care if problems arise.
As with any drug, sedatives have side effects. The most profound and potentially life-threatening problem associated with sedation is the effect on blood pressure. Most sedatives lower the blood pressure which can make the pet lethargic and cold. Cargo cabins are not heated and, in cold weather, are quite cool. This cool environment, accompanied by lower blood pressure and a colder body temperature, can result in hypothermia If left untreated, hypothermia and low blood pressure can be fatal. Another concern is that the effect of high altitude on the action of sedatives is unknown. What is known is that sedative use has been implicated as a contributing factor to pet air travel deaths.
Overall, sedation for traveling pets is NOT recommended.
Even for those highly stressed pets that may benefit from sedation, you must be thoroughly aware of all the potential complications, side effects, and risks of using a sedative. You and your pet would probably be safer, and have a much more pleasant vacation, if sedatives were not included.
Another option, as opposed to taking your cat with you, is to put them in a reputable cattery or get a pet sitter. Call our friendly team at Vetlove will be able to provide some local recommendations.