Safe and Sound During the Holidays
How to manage noise aversion in dogs and strengthen the human-animal bond
The holiday season seems to last longer and get more hectic every year. Whether cooking the Thanksgiving feast or doing last-minute gift shopping, everyone can get a little stressed out. Most people don’t know that their dog may also experience anxiety during these celebrations.
According to an online survey conducted by Harris Poll and commissioned by Zoetis, 46 percent of dog owners reported their dog showed symptoms of stress during the holidays; that stress could be due to noise aversion. The survey also found that 44 percent of dog owners said their dogs suffer from noise aversion.
Noise aversion is the set of fear-based behaviors that dogs display when subjected to “noise triggers.” During the year-end holidays, such noise triggers might be the doorbell, boisterous family gatherings, children playing with loud toys or New Year’s fireworks.
During the busy holiday season, common behavioral signs of canine noise aversion include: panting, trembling or shaking, pacing or restlessness, vocalizing, hiding, owner-seeking behavior, cowering, refusal to eat, excessive vigilance or hypervigilance, and escape behaviors.
Although noise aversion is common, dog owners often do not seek help from their veterinarians. One reason may be that pet owners recognize their dogs overreact to noise, but do not recognize that these behaviors are a demonstration of fear. This fear can disrupt the human-animal bond by causing anxiety for the dogs and stress for their humans.
Therefore, it is important to seek treatment for your dog if he is displaying signs of noise aversion. Not only are these dogs distressed and suffering, but when left untreated, noise aversion can progress to a more severe state.
“It is crucial to understand the level of physiological suffering that occurs with the stress and anxiety of noise aversion,” said Dr. Lynn Honeckman, a Florida veterinarian. “Ignoring the fearful pet during a noise event or using prescription medications as a last resort is not the standard of care as outlined by the American Board of Veterinary Behaviorists.”
A new medication called SILEO(r) (dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel), the first and only FDA-approved treatment for canine noise aversion, is available via prescription from your veterinarian. It can be easily administered at home to calm your dog without sedating him for the duration of a noisy holiday event. The first dose can be given as soon as the dog shows signs of anxiety and fear, or approximately 30-60 minutes before a known fear- or anxiety-causing noise stimulus.
There are additional ways to make your dog with noise aversion feel more comfortable. Dogs always need a safe place to call their own, and that can be especially true when they need comfort from loud celebrations. Sometimes a dim, quiet room or crate can provide comfort, while soft music can soothe other dogs.
Don’t suffer through the holiday season with a fearful and anxious dog and a stressed family. If you think your dog is showing signs of noise aversion, consult your veterinarian for guidance on a solution that allows you and your dog to enjoy the holidays together.
For more information about treating noise aversion in dogs, including prescribing information and important safety information, visit sileodogus.com.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Do not use SILEO in dogs with severe cardiovascular disease, respiratory, liver or kidney diseases, or in conditions of shock, severe debilitation or stress due to extreme heat, cold or fatigue, or in dogs hypersensitive to dexmedetomidine or to any of the excipients. SILEO should not be administered in the presence of preexisting hypotension, hypoxia or bradycardia. Do not use in dogs sedated from previous dosing. SILEO has not been evaluated in dogs younger than 16 weeks of age or in dogs with dental or gingival disease that could have an effect on the absorption of SILEO. SILEO has not been evaluated for use in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs. Transient pale mucous membranes at the site of application may occur with SILEO use. Other uncommon adverse reactions included emesis, drowsiness or sedation. Handle gel-dosing syringes with caution to avoid direct exposure to skin, eyes or mouth. SILEO has not been evaluated for aversion behaviors to thunderstorms. For full Prescribing Information, visit ZoetisUS.com/SileoPI.
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Zoetis from May 23-25, 2016, among 2,136 adults ages 18 and older (among which 887 are dog owners and 395 whose dog has experienced noise anxiety). In the survey, noise anxiety was defined as trembling, shaking, clingy, hiding, panting, pacing, whining or whimpering, cowering, escape behavior, or property destruction when exposed to loud noises. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, contact Lindsey Goodman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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