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Thread: Airplane travel with a lab

  1. #1

    Default Airplane travel with a lab

    I am taking my 9 month old black lab on a trip to northern california in about a week. I have all the travel arrangements set up, health certificate, flea/tick meds, etc..., but was curious about anything specific about the actual flight with the dog.

    I talked a bit with the vet regarding whether to use some form of sedative to keep her relaxed. Surprisingly, the vet said they typically don't recommend any kind of medication even for the more hyper dogs, but rather recommend something like dramamine (not the non-drowsy version of course). They explained that it would also be helpful if the dog developed any issues with motion sickness while on the plane (hadn't even considered that part).

    My dog does really well traveling in a car. She never barks and, if anything, just sits there and watches. Most of the time, she will lay down and often just go to sleep. I don't know how she will be if she is in a crate being carried around, shuffled onto/off a plane, etc... though since this is the first trip with her.

    I decided to test the damamine option when I would be around her the entire evening in case anything developed that I had to take care of. If anything, it worked more like a shot of caffine. She was bouncing off the walls and didn't show any sign of drowsiness at all. I'm sure some of that was the fact that I wasn't taking her out for the exercise she gets almost daily, so she had some pent up energy, but that will be more representative of travel day anyway, so a good test.

    What do you guys think? Should I even bother with anything or just go as normal? Has anyone tried anything different that has worked well or poorly that I might want to consider or make sure not to use? My prefrerence would be to not use any kind of drug if possible, but I also don't want her to have a traumatic experience with traveling either so would consider it if that is a significant concern.

    Thanks in advance for any ideas. Feel free to PM me if you have a negative experience with a specific product so we don't have any problems with the forum rules.

  2. #2
    Member DownEastah's Avatar
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    My first recommendation would be to put her in the kennel in the car for the next week. My dog rides in his kennel almost all the time, with a kennel cover of it. I have flown both with and without the drugs and I can tell you with it is kinda nice. The guys that know my dog Guy will tell you he minds pretty well but has the attention span of a 2 year old. There's going to be a lot of people and distractions in the airport, with the drugs he was like a professional service dog. As far as riding in the plane, I would say put her in the kennel with a kennel cover, it's going to be dark in the plane. She should be more comfortable in the plane because it will me similar to the car. This is all just my opinion and my experiences hope it helps.

  3. #3

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    Thanks. She does ride in the kennel in the car from time to time depending on what I am doing, so it is not a new thing for her by any means. She does well with that, so I am thinking she will be just fine on the plane. Like you said, I am not too concerned with the time on the plane itself, but more about the chaos getting here checked in at the airport and moving her around before and after the flight. I would guess that she would just lay down and sleep once the hum of the engines take over on the plane itself.

  4. #4

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    I would skip the drugs if it were my dog. They travel a lot better than the worried owner in the cabin. I would offer one piece of advice from personal experience. Make sure you get the confirmation reciept that your dog has been boarded on the plane and do not let them leave until you have it. I would suggest that you notify the flight attendant as soon as you board that you have a dog and are waiting for your confirmation slip. The guys that load the dog are suppose to sign and bring it up to the attendant to give to you.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSGDA View Post
    I would skip the drugs if it were my dog. They travel a lot better than the worried owner in the cabin. I would offer one piece of advice from personal experience. Make sure you get the confirmation reciept that your dog has been boarded on the plane and do not let them leave until you have it. I would suggest that you notify the flight attendant as soon as you board that you have a dog and are waiting for your confirmation slip. The guys that load the dog are suppose to sign and bring it up to the attendant to give to you.
    Ah, I was not aware of that. I will ask about that. I have specifically chosen the flights to minimize total travel time for the dog, so her missing one of the flights would not be good.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
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    I have traveled with my dogs before and Alaska Airlines so far has been really good with handling and letting you know your dog is on board. My golden does not like being in a crate but the shuffling and everything going on helped calm him and distract him from freaking out in the kennel. Try maybe giving her a toy like a kong or something from home that she likes or has your smell. Sometimes it helps to have something familiar in the crate with them. Make sure you have food and water container too and a blanket or cushion for the bottom. They will ask you for it when you check in. Most airports will let you take her out of the crate and walk around if you have long layovers. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Member Armymark's Avatar
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    I travel with my pup Rigby to California twice now and he is 5 months old. I don't sedate him and I think the airlines may prohibit it. Rigby has no issues.

  8. #8
    Member Team Kabob's Avatar
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    +1 for Alaskan airlines with flying with a dog; the flight attendants will give you a tag off the crate that the dog has bordered the plane too. My black lab was fine with no meds with the flight from Kansas City mo to Anchorage and back last summer. They will be fine!
    Side note TSA will pat down the dog too!

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    My vet prescribed Valium for my dog when I was flying with her. She's quite hyper it can help take the edge off for them if needed. Di

  10. #10

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    Thanks everyone for the responses and tips. I am definitely leaning toward going without any meds. That is how I would prefer to do things anyway, but didn't want to do something that might make it worse for her. Glad to hear others are having good results without.

    I know she will love the trip, a week or running around the redwoods will be good for her. The fun part will be to see how she reacts around the wild turkeys that come around all the time.... She got excited the other day just catching a mouse while we were out on the trails.

  11. #11
    Member Tearbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by excav8tr View Post
    My vet prescribed Valium for my dog when I was flying with her. She's quite hyper it can help take the edge off for them if needed. Di
    Sure those weren't for you?
    "Grin and Bear It"

  12. #12
    Member Tearbear's Avatar
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    I would not give my dog drugs unless it is totally necessary. There are some natural herbs you can give your dog for calmness, I think rosemary is one... you could do a little research on that if you want. Some drugs may have an adverse effect on dogs, and I for one would not want to be giving my dog something that was going to be bad for him, I don't think anyone checks on a dog while in flight to see how they are doing.
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    I flew my chocolate lab up here about four years ago. The vet gave him a prescribed med and a holistic over the counter med that I started him on almost two weeks prior to flying up here. I can't recall the names of the meds I was giving him but there's no way I would medicate again to that degree. He was super aggressive for a good two weeks afterwards. I flew Alaska Air and I can say they were very good about letting me know he was on board.

  14. #14
    Member mjm316's Avatar
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    I never needed any drugs for my lab but what I did do that worked quite well was to take one of those water bowls that hooks on the crate and add water and then freeze it. Put back on the kennel and the dog has something to lick/drink when they are on the plane. No mess either.

  15. #15

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    Just a few thoughts... Make sure that your kennel fits all of the specifications prior to going to the airport, such as having every nut in place, zip ties, and a food/water dish for the dog. I spent one very stressful afternoon running around the Minneapolis airport trying to find one additional nut for the kennel. It had fallen off somewhere and I didn't have spares. I ended up buying one off of another person flying with a dog for $5. I probably wouldn't have been able to fly without it.

    Another thought: I agree with Mjm316 about freezing water dishes so they don't make a mess. I've tried this, and it seems to work well. I also duct-tape a bag of food on top of the kennel, just in case the flight gets delayed or they send the dog on the wrong flight. I would also recommend putting a sheet of paper in with the food with your vet's (and your own) contact info and some emergency information about your dog - any allergies, etc. I've never had an issue with Alaska Airlines, but I've heard horror stories about other airlines.

    About medication: Vets do not generally recommend this because drugs can have serious counter effects at altitude, and most people have no way of testing this before the flight. It also could be a liability issue for the airlines (but you will have to sign a liability waiver regardless). Generally, dogs that are kennel-trained are fine without any sort of medication. I used benadryl once for my dog, and its the only time he has had an issue flying. Not sure if the two things were related, but I don't do it anymore.

    Good luck on the flight. Definitely make sure you get the slips for each transfer. Making a public fuss about the airline losing your dog will make them very happy to help you. No one likes being accused of losing someone's dog.

  16. #16
    Member 3CBRS's Avatar
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    All good tips -- thanks everyone! I've shipped or taken dogs as baggage several times on Alaska/Horizon. They do not allow zip ties on kennels anymore. Never sedated/medicated puppies to adult dogs, get a letter of acclimation from the vet if temperatures are extreme, and the dogs have done well. It is good to pester flight attendants if they don't have your dog's boarding confirmation for you when you board.

    Alaska Airlines traveling with pet policies are posted at http://www.alaskaair.com/content/tra...with-pets.aspx

    They also have a Q & A at http://www.alaskaair.com/content/tra...nfield-qa.aspx

    Best of luck to you & your dog!

    Karen

  17. #17
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    I would say good choice to go no drugs...as mentioned above, it is generally more stressful for the owner. I have sent dogs and traveled with dogs several times and Alaska airlines has been great and they give you the confirmation card automatically.

    I would not use a crate cover, the dog will generate a lot of heat in those and cause it to overheat even with the flaps open.

  18. #18
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    I have to agree with the majority, don't medicate. Why ask for potential problems w/ something you and the dog have no experience with?
    I paint or sticker my kennels to the point a blind man could find it. No way am I shipping a white kennel that looks the same as every other white kennel. I've also shipped w/ the side grates on the bottom instead of top as an additional identifier.
    I've sat and watched the dog get loaded and unloaded at every stop/layover. Peace of mind, and an added control. If they are yelling at you to board and you have not seen the dog, let them know that is what you are waiting for.
    And don't worry. The dog traveling on a plane is not much different than in a truck. Relax, you and the dog will be ok.
    ARR

  19. #19
    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    I've shipped my dog or dogs several times both when i was traveling with them and alone when shipping to a trainer. Never drugged them.

    Only one time was there a problem and that was my fault. Upon shipping my dog from Phoenix up to anchorage with us, we had several hour layover in Seattle, making for about a 11-12 hr flight with no relief for the dog, since we are not allowed access to him in Seattle. The dog arrived at the baggage level in Anchorage and we went and got him and another one with the push cart. Figuring he had to "go" real bad, and that the crate would be easier to handle empty, i opened his door and put lead on his protruding head. He happilly took a couple steps out and as soon as i started leading him to the outside door, he started pooping. By that point, nothing else I could do but start running with him on lead to the outside. He left a solid trail of poop, seems like it musta been for 100 ft, till we got outside and he finished. The place was crowded with people getting their baggage, really created quite a lot of attention. I went back in and asked the baggage people to call the custodian. They told me not to worry about it, they would take care of, and go ahead and take my other dog and crates out. Bud
    Wasilla

  20. #20

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    Thanks for all the responses. I have decided to go as-is, not meds. I'm sure I will have a harder time than her. I've learned a few good tips to try out from you guys.

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