New drug helps calm dogs with anxiety, fear of loud noises

Posted at 9:45 AM, Nov 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-12 09:45:05-05
Therese Kopiwoda can't imagine life without her  9-year-old Border Collie Jed.  
But his fun-loving demeanor changes drastically as soon as he hears a clap of thunder. Fireworks are no picnic, either.
"If I put my hand on him I can feel his heart beating really quickly. So it's really, I mean, he's having a panic attack." 
Research shows 40 to 50 percent of dog owners report their dog is scared of some sort of noise.
Jed suffers from something called noise aversion, an anxiety condition brought on by loud sounds. 
Veterinarian Heidi Meier sees it all too often.  "Some of the dogs you might see who are exhibiting anxiety, could be ears back, panting, hyper-vigilant, excessive lip-licking, hiding."
Now, there's a new treatment. The FDA recently approved "Sileo," the first drug approved specifically to treat noise anxiety in dogs.
Sileo comes in gel form, and is applied near a dog's gums. The FDA says the drug can be used up to five times during an event when used as directed and is "safe and effective for alleviation of acute noise aversion in dogs." 
Therese used it on the 4th of July and took this video of Jed's reaction.  "He laid still. I could tell that he heard the fireworks, but he wasn't panting really hard, ya know, he wasn't drooling." 
There are other methods for treating noise aversion, like traditional anti-anxiety meds, herbal remedies, and compression jackets like the "Thundershirt".
Therese has tried most, and says Sileo has worked the best so far!  "Just being able, ya know, to see him lay comfortably. It just really, it really makes me at ease and makes me feel like I'm being a better pet parent."
Each syringe costs about $25. Depending on the size of your dog, one syringe can last several doses.
Doctor Meier says a possible side effect is vomiting, but it is infrequent.  If, on the off chance your pup gets drowsy, dosing can be adjusted. 
The American Veterinary Medical Association told ABC2 News it does not take positions on specific drugs.