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While some people seek to calm their pets' stress by administering sedatives before a flight, the American Veterinary Medical Association and many breeders warn that this is a bad idea.
Sedatives can harm the animal's breathing and cause disorientation or even death. This is especially true of pets with pushed-in noses, such as bulldogs or Persian cats.
Instead, spend some time before the trip getting your pet acclimated to the carrier. Leave it out in the pet's normal parts of the house, and put a familiar object -- a toy, one of your socks -- inside. Give the pet treats, attention, and praise in the carrier so he or she associates the carrier with pleasant experiences.