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Everything you need to know about the new noise anxiety medication for dogs

Think twice before treating your dog with new anxiety medicine Sileo

As more and more reports roll in of city shelters inundated with dogs that ran away due to the noise from New Year's Eve fireworks, it's no wonder the first FDA-approved noise anxiety drug for dogs is gaining in popularity. Sileo, approved by the FDA in May 2016, promises to ease your dog's noise anxiety for a few hours.

More: 7 tips to keep your pet's anxiety low during the holidays

Unfortunately, it doesn't come without its risks, and what vets are saying will probably make you think twice before trying it out on your anxious pooch.

The danger of Sileo

While Sileo seems to offer the ideal quick-fix for your nervous pet, vets are warning homeowners to think twice before using it without vet assistance.

In an interview with ABC Action News, Dr. Christy Layton of Timberlane Pet Hospital and Resort in Plant City, Florida, explained why Sileo may be calming dogs, but it's only giving vets reason to be anxious.

"We use it very cautiously here simply because it does have a very significant affect on the heart rate," Layton said of Sileo, "and so we always worry about that, especially in an at-home setting."

The dangerous possibility of slowing down the heart rate causes vets like Layton to fear an at-home overdose, which could result in death.

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Dr. Eric Barchas, a veterinarian out of San Francisco, agreed with Layton in an article he wrote for Dogster.

"Sileo, aka dexmedetomidine, has a low risk of complications, but those complications are serious," Barchas explained. "I'm not yet ready to prescribe it for at-home use."

He added, "Sileo is a new product, and it is the first product that is FDA-approved for the treatment of noise phobia in dogs. However, it is not a new drug at all. Rather, it is a new formulation of a drug that has been around for quite some time — dexmedetomidine."

Dexmedetomidine is used as a sedative and has pain-killing properties. In fact, it's considered so safe that variants are even used on people. But Barchas warns about reading the fine print here — safe under the supervision of a doctor. Barchas believes Sileo is perfectly safe under a vet's supervision, but when it is taken home, things could get complicated.

If an overdose does occur, without a vet's assistance, the dog's life could absolutely be at risk.

Until further testing is done about its safety at home, Barchas said he doesn't intend to prescribe Sileo.

Proper administration of Sileo

Sileo is a gel in a syringe that is administered between your dog's gum and cheeks for quick absorption. It is not meant to be swallowed, according to the directions, as swallowing can make it ineffective. If your dog does swallow the gel, administration should not be attempted again for two hours.

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Normandale Vet Hospital in Minnesota shared a helpful YouTube instructional video about the proper way to give your dog Sileo.

Other options to try before Sileo

Before trying Sileo, we recommend trying other solutions that are proven safe and effective.

  • ThunderShirt: ThunderShirt is a proven option for dogs with anxiety and can be used any time, from travel to fireworks. It is a vest that applies pressure to the dog (just enough that they feel it, not enough that it hurts or is uncomfortable), making them feel secure and safe.
  • Ewegurt: Ewegurt is an all-natural treat supplement that promotes calm for dogs. Sheep's milk, beets, sardines, parsley, coconut oil, kale and unfiltered apple cider vinegar make up the surprisingly simple ingredient list that people swear keeps their pets calm for hours during storms and noisy nights.
  • ZenCrate: ZenCrate uses vibration technology and music when your dog is inside their den in order to cancel out those anxiety-causing noises and make your pet feel calm and cozy. The downside is it isn't currently on the market, but the company is taking preorders.
  • Rescue Remedy: Rescue Remedy, like Ewegurt, is an all-natural herb and flower supplement designed specifically for dogs with anxiety. It comes in liquid form with a dropper so you can add a couple of drops to your pet's water.

How do you treat your dog's anxiety? Will you give Sileo a try or leave it to vets?

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