Florida has the most frequent and severe thunderstorms in the United States. In Tallahassee, there is an average of 70-80 days with thunderstorms every year; over 10 times more than California! Dogs are naturally frightened by thunder; thunder and other loud noises were a signal to run and hide from larger predators. This nasty combination means that many of the pets we care for have problems every time thunder rolls over the city; we even have dogs that come to see us every time a big storm is going to crash in so we can make sure that they are safe.
Before, there were a few medications that could blunt or stop severe anxiety and we have our soundproofed TV room that prevented the noise from reaching our friends. Unfortunately though, we still wished that we had something more powerful for quelling anxiety with fewer side effects. We have one patient that reacts so strongly to thunder that it was better to put him on chronic drug therapy than try to anticipate thunderstorms. The drugs had a host of side effects: the patient was constantly sedate, did not want to play, and if given for long enough time the drugs could have damaged his liver. Previous drugs also had to be given an hour before a storm which, as any Florida resident can tell you, happen at any moment so we and our clients had to stay up to the minute on the weather to know exactly when to give medication so it would work throughout the storm.
Luckily, Zoetis has started the distribution of Sileo which Dr. Blount is very excited about. It is the first FDA-approved treatment for noise aversion in dogs and it has fewer and less frequent side effects than any other treatment on the market. Previous drugs were also less effective because they were not absorbed as well as Sileo. The medication can be administered at home by applying it to a dog’s gums and it knocks out anxiety for a few hours and can be given as needed throughout a storm, it also takes hold quickly after being administered. Sileo is useful for calming a pet during 4th of July fireworks, parties or any noisy event. Dr. Blount has started to use it to help pets whom are here for playcare and staycare and she is pleased with the results. She has yet to see any side effects, the drug works well, and the pets entrusted to our care are calmer and safer. While not yet approved for these uses by the FDA, Dr. Blount predicts that Sileo will be used for other anxieties, so if your dog panics when his family leaves for dinner it could be used to calm him. The drug would also have applications for training too; by pairing anxiety provoking situations with Sileo it could train the pet to not react to the situation.
We have Sileo available with prescription to arm yourself for those lovely 4th of July fireworks, now your dog can enjoy them with the rest of the family. It is safe and effective in dogs 16 weeks of age and older but should not be used in dogs that are breeding, pregnant, nursing puppies, or have severe dental or gum disease. Sileo should not be redosed before it starts to take effect.