Friday, July 01, 2016

Drugs to Calm Dogs Afraid of Fire Works?

From the good people at Stat:
The furry faces of of pitchdogs are flooding Facebook and Twitter as dozens of veterinarians and pet hospitals seek to raise awareness of Sileo, the first drug approved to calm canines who are afraid of fireworks and thunderstorms.

“Do not fear, Sileo is here!” Aston, a gray-and-white dog with a remarkable grasp of English, is quoted as saying (or perhaps, barking) in one post.

Zoetis, the big animal drug maker that’s marketing Sileo in the United States, didn’t organize or ask for the PR campaign. But it did supply its sales reps with red-white-and-blue bandanas printed with the drug name to distribute to pet clinics. And it did launch the drug just in time for the Fourth of July.

Vets couldn’t resist.

The drug, a low-dose version of a dog sedative, hit the market last month. It was approved late last year by the Food and Drug Administration to treat dogs with a condition called “noise aversion” that causes symptoms ranging from skittishness to extreme panic and can result in dogs running away or injuring themselves.

Zoetis estimates that about a third of dogs are afflicted by noise aversion, which can be triggered by everything from the bangs of celebratory gunfire to the swishing of a running dishwasher. 

I suppose it's too much
to actually have the dog spend time around noisy things that do not bite it -- you know, the kind of basic behavior modification techniques we use when people have fears and phobias -- counter-conditioning and desensitization. Oh right. No sales there. Who wants to spend a little time with a dog to fix a problem permanently, when you can spend a lot of money on a dog to not fix it at all?

I am reminded of a line from dog trainer Marc Goldberg: "In countries where people are not crazy about dogs, dogs are not crazy."  

There's something to that!

In the interim, use that mass of gray jello between your ears and crate your dogs the evenings of July 3rd and 4th (fireworks are often started early) and play decently loud music to drown out any rattles and hums outside.  Was that a whizz-bang or Janis Joplin losing another piece of her heart? The dogs will never even ask the question!


PipedreamFarm said...

Having lived with a dog that gets so fearfully panicked by noises (thunderstorms, etc) that it destroyed crates to escape (breaking molars and canines) and left bloody paw prints on windows and glass doors (after escaping crates) looking for a way out of the house and learning how futile retraining was I appreciate any new drugs that could help calm a dog's mind so that it can think. BTW, this extreme phobia ran in this dog's lines (which we discovered after our dog developed the fear) strongly suggesting a genetic link to this phobia.

PBurns said...

It's odd, but true, that noise itself does not seem to be the trigger. Good gun dogs don't care if a shotgun is blowing or a tailgate is banging - but they may be go through a window if there is lightning. One theory is that some dogs are very sensitive to electrical charges in the air, and their reaction to the very slight, but unseen, forces of static are what cause the freak-out. They then generalize to fireworks and other mystery noises.

One solution that seems to work with a lot of dogs is taking an unscented dryer sheet from the laundry room and wiping it lightly over the dog. This helps eliminates static build up in the coat during a storm, and I am told that for some dogs that's all that's needed.

Another tip is to crate the dog in an interior room away from a window and where sound is less likely to seep.

PipedreamFarm said...

Tried most of those and the dog became more alert for the fear triggers. Towards the end this dog started the fear cycle when it noticed clouds in the sky

PipedreamFarm said...

The reaction to this fear varies between dogs; few dogs I have been told about have as frenzied a fear response as this one (many just shut down). Very few dogs I've been told about have as extreme a fear as this one did.

JL said...

My current two-year-old is more sensitive to the sight than sound of fireworks. He will find the erratic barrage we have most of the day and all evening here annoying after a while, but he can function through most of it. Once he notices the sudden light in the sky that fades away, he'll become more and more suspicious and uncomfortable. So both the interior and exterior blinds will be down on the windows, and he'll be in for the evening before 8:30, which is when it starts thinking about getting dark here.

Paula Denney said...

Tried everything non-Rx, rescue hound too freaked--eye rolling, panting, drooling, pacing, heart racing, trembling-- for her to focus or for anything to work. ONE thunderstorm season of doggie Valium ($4 generic) and dog was able to absorb the counter-conditioning which we did with every storm. By the next t-storm season when she sensed one coming she'd take herself to the bed in the closet and await her peanut butter and grapenuts filled Kong. She never liked them but she was't miserable or medicated.

Please don't write off a prescription to get the dog to the point their brain will work for the training.

Heather Hawke said...

Well, that sign sits about four blocks from my house. I can't say I'm surprised. The mission to humanize dogs is nearly complete here - to the point where it is fraught to mention you "own" a dog (no, no, no, you are her GUARDIAN). The next person who asks about my "fur baby" is going to get the response: "Are you calling me a bitch?"