Drug calms dogs amid the noise of fireworks

Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 22:30:13-04

A newly approved drug could help keep your pet calm and safe during loud events like Fourth of July fireworks.

Cora, a 5-year-old Australian Queensland Heeler, does not like loud noises.

"Loud noises like motorcycle noises can cause her to shake, cry or run away," said her owner Jennier Hubbart.

Several years ago, amid a fireworks display, the anxiety got so bad it triggered Cora's epilepsy, causing a seizure.

Across San Diego County, when fireworks go boom over the July 4th holiday, County Animal Services take in almost double the number of lost dogs than it does during a typical weekend.

This Independence Day weekend, Cora won't be among them.

10News watched as Hubbart walked Cora past a noisy construction site and some loud motorcycles without problems.

"Right now, she is yawning, which is pretty strange," said Hubbart.

The reason for the relaxation is the FDA-approved drug dexmedetomidine. The drug, which goes by the trade name Sileo, is a liquid or gel applied in the mouth, targeting the anxiety-causing chemical released when some dogs hear loud noises.

"It's very effective. It blocks the chemical in the brain so it prevents the release of the chemical. It's not only calming, but keeps the dog functioning. It's not a sedative," said Dr. Jagpal Deo of Bayside Veterinary Hospital.

For Cora, the biggest test comes this weekend.

"Usually, I would find her in the closet or under the bed. My fear is she was going to jump through a window," said Hubbart.

The fear has faded, and Hubbart added, "With her being calm and relaxed, it helps me relax and enjoy our time together."

One dosage can last for about four hours, and the medication costs between $35 and $75.

Deo advises pet owners to check with their veterinarian if they're interested in the drug.

The drug is not advised for certain dogs with certain medical conditions.