Twenty-four beagles were used to measure physiological and behavioral reactions to air transport. Each of 3 groups of 4 sedated (with 0.5 mg/kg body weight of acepromazine maleate) and 4 non-sedated (control) dogs was flown on a separate flight between Montreal, Quebec, and Toronto, Ontario, after being transported by road from Quebec City to Montreal. Saliva and blood samples were taken before ground and air transport and after air transport. The heart rate was monitored during the whole experiment except during ground transport, and behavior was monitored by video during air transport. Sedation did not affect any of the variables measured. The mean plasma cortisol concentration was significantly higher (P < 0.05) after ground transport than at baseline (225.3 vs 134.5 nmol/L); the mean salivary cortisol concentration was significantly higher (P < 0.05) after both ground and air transport than at baseline (16.2 and 14.8, respectively, vs 12.6 nmol/L). The mean neutrophil count was significantly higher (P < 0.05) after both ground and air transport than at baseline (80.6 and 81.4, respectively, vs 69.5 per 100 white blood cells), whereas the mean lymphocyte count was significantly lower (P < 0.05) (13.2 and 13.7, respectively, vs 22.4 per 100 white blood cells). Loading and unloading procedures caused the largest increase in heart rate. On average, the dogs spent more than 50% of the time lying down, and they remained inactive for approximately 75% of the time, except during take-off. These results suggest that transportation is stressful for dogs and that sedation with acepromazine, at the dosage and timing used, does not affect the physiological and behavioral stress responses of dogs to air transport.
Bergeron, R., Scott, S. L., Émond, J. P., Mercier, F., Cook, N. J., & Schaefer, A. L. (2002). Physiology and behavior of dogs during air transport. Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research, 66(3), 211.