Dogs who love to stay outdoors likely wouldn’t fare well this firework-filled holiday weekend. Loud noises from fireworks, thunder and the elements can indeed make dogs anxious, extremely afraid and reeling from what’s called noise aversion.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, just recently approved the first and only drug made to help furry friends with this problem.
A low-dose version of canine sedatives, Sileo oromucosal gel hit the U.S. market last month after being approved in late 2015 for noise aversion treatment in dogs. This condition causes symptoms that range from panting and trembling to extreme panic to running away and injuring themselves as a result.
“It has rapid speed of onset, is easy to administer at home and works ‘in the moment,’ without any other treatments or training,” said Dr. Shelley L. Stanford, group director at Zoetis, the firm marketing the oromucosal gel product in the country.
Sileo is administered to dogs through placing the gel between the cheek and gum for oral transmucosal absorption. It usually takes effect within a half to a full hour after application – said to offer a calming effect without sedating.
Its manufacturer, Finnish company Orion, tested the medication on 144 dogs on New Year’s Eve and revealed that 75 percent of canines taking Sileo had less anxiety than expected during fireworks, compared to 33 percent of those on placebo. The results were based on dog owners who were asked to document their pets’ reactions.
“It’s not a tranquilizer, per say. It works on the nervous system to inhibit the release of adrenaline or nor-epinephrine,” explained veterinarian Dr. Gary Yarnell in a CBS News report, however cautioning that dogs suffering severe breathing, heart, kidney or liver issues should not be given the drug.
The first remedy, he added, is to comfort one’s pet first before turning to drugs. Those with serious noise aversion condition, for instance, should be accompanied at all times and never left at home alone.
Zoetis estimated that around one-third of dogs are affected by noise aversion, which could be incited by noise events such as July Fourth festivities. Fireworks in fact emerge as one of the leading triggers, with July Fifth as the busiest day for shelter intakes in the country.
Sileo is only one in a sea of pet remedies. Dog vest ThunderShirt promises to address anxiety through applying mild pressure. The previous week, a wearable device called the Calmz Anxiety Relief System was launched to provide “calming frequencies” for dogs to hear and feel.
Factors other than fireworks and other forms of noise can cause stress and anxiety in dogs. Yes, these include even mere hugging – a sign that the gesture meant to express affection could be differently interpreted by these creatures.