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What Can I Give My Anxious Dog for a 15-Hour Plane Ride to Keep Him Calm?


Dear VetBabble,

I am planning to take my dog on a 15+ hour plane ride and I am concerned about his anxiety issues. He tends to get anxious and bark a lot. What do you recommend giving him to ensure he remains calm during the flight? Are there any over-the-counter medications like Benadryl that might help? Or should I consult my veterinarian for a prescription sedative?

An Overview of Canine Anxiety

Traveling can be a stressful experience for both humans and pets. However, our furry friends might experience even greater difficulties in coping with an unfamiliar environment, such as a plane, for an extended period of time. Anxiety in dogs can manifest as barking, whining, shaking, or even destructive behavior. It’s crucial to address these issues to ensure a positive traveling experience for both you and your dog.

There are various anxiety-reducing techniques you can try prior to travel to prepare your dog, like creating a comfortable and familiar space within the travel carrier, using pheromone sprays, and offering calming treats. Additionally, it is important to train your dog to be comfortable with visiting the veterinarian, as they will be a valuable resource in managing your dog’s anxiety.

Benadryl and Other Solutions for Dogs

While over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl can sometimes be used as a mild sedative for dogs, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian before administering any medications. Benadryl’s primary use is for allergy symptoms, and its sedative effects might not be strong enough for managing anxiety during such a long flight. Your veterinarian can assess your dog’s specific needs and provide guidance on whether to use Benadryl or another medication.

For some dogs, professional guidance may suggest addressing anxiety through training and behavior modification techniques. In more severe cases, prescription sedatives or anti-anxiety medications may be recommended. Always remember that each dog’s needs and responses to medications can vary, so discussing your options with a veterinarian is vital before your trip.

Consulting Your Veterinarian

Before your long flight, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to discuss your dog’s anxiety issues and get expert advice tailored to your pet’s unique needs. Your vet will perform a physical examination to ensure that there aren’t any underlying health concerns that may contribute to your dog’s anxiety. They may also suggest a behavioral consultation to help with any separation anxiety or stress that arises from being away from you during the flight.

Your veterinarian may provide a prescription for a sedative or anti-anxiety medication to help your dog cope during the extended flight. Be sure to follow their dosing and administration guidelines closely, as well as monitor your dog’s response to the medication prior to departure.

In conclusion, ensuring that your dog remains calm and stress-free during a lengthy flight involves researching various soothing methods, consulting your veterinarian for guidance on medications or behavioral modification techniques, and preparing your dog for the experience. Taking the time to address your dog’s anxiety will make travel smoother and more enjoyable for both you and your pet.

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