The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug that will help pets that suffer from anxiety due to loud noises. The drug arrives just in time for the Fourth of July festivities.
About 40 percent of dogs experience noise anxiety, which reflects on fear and aversion to loud noises. These dogs tend to look for ways to escape from the noises, including running away from home or hide in the tightest place they find, sometimes getting stuck in them.
During the Fourth of July, the problem exacerbates because of the massive fireworks spectacles. According to the New York Times, July 5 is one of the busiest days for animal shelters, and they warn pet owners to take care of their animals and keep them inside to prevent them from fleeing.
For years, pet owners have been looking for ways to help their pets deal with the firework noises. Now, a company from Finland called Orion has developed a new drug for anxiety in pets. It is called Sileo, and it is the first and only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of noise aversion in drugs.
Veterinarians previously treated pets with tranquilizers and sedatives
Zoetis Inc., the company marketing Sileo in the U.S., stated in a press release that the drug has to be prescribed by a veterinarian, and calms dogs without sedating them, so they can “remain calm yet fully functional.”
Other drugs that veterinarians and pet owners have used to treat noise phobia include acepromazine or mini doses of Prozac, which work as tranquilizers that only sedates the dog, but it does nothing to its anxiety. As the New York Times explains, the dog still experience fear, since it can see and hear everything, but it cannot do anything to escape because the sedative has reacted on its body. On the long term, these drugs can worsen the situation and give pets traumatic experiences.
“SILEO works the way veterinarians and pet owners need it to work, calming dogs while allowing them to interact normally with the family,” said Shelley L. Stanford, Companion Animal Veterinary Professional Services at Zoetis, according to the press release.
Unlike drugs like Prozac, it does not require previous training to become effective
The drug acts by blocking the release of norepinephrine, a chemical in the brain linked with the development of fear and anxiety. The medicament is an oromucosal gel. It comes in a syringe with a dosing ring to measure the dose, which depends on the weight of the dog. The gel is placed between the dog’s cheek and gum, and it is absorbed there within 30 to 60 minutes after the application. Each dose last between two to three hours.
Zoetis has stated that over 90 percent of pet owners that tested the drug said that the syringe is easy to use. Also, the effect of the drug was “excellent” in 75 percent of the dogs, while adverse reactions were small. 4.5 percent of the dogs experienced vomiting.
Non-medical recommendations to keep pets safe during the noisy holidays include staying indoors with the pet. It is important to know that over-comforting the pet can reinforce the anxious behavior. Playing with the pet and letting it know it is all okay can help them to keep calm, and they will feel safe with human company.