About this time next week many of us will be treated to (or cursed by) fireworks and even a few skyward gunshots, all to improve our outlook for a new year. Oh sure, these immature and potentially dangerous antics fall into the category of irresponsible human behavior, but I write the Pet Care column. I’ll leave the commentary for the editorial page. Beyond the risk from fires, injuries, and bullets obeying the law of gravity, our pets can suffer badly.
Emotional distress in dogs isn’t hard to recognize. Those who are severely anxious will tremble, hide, pace, pant, and seek solace from their person. If only moderately wiggy, they may lick their lips and yawn. People who believe that frightened dogs should just buck up and get over it are missing an important – and easily managed – animal welfare problem. We humans understand that these festive explosions are unlikely to abruptly end our lives but our dogs don’t know that. Compassionate care is in order and it’s actually quite easy to administer.
Veterinary medicine has a new treatment, intended specifically for noise aversion, that comes in an oral-transmucosal gel. Available by prescription, Sileo is placed by oral syringe (no needle) between the cheek and gum, allowing it to absorb in the mouth. It’s quick and easy.
All FDA-approved medications are subjected to research. In the case of Sileo, the studies were actually conducted during New Year’s Eve firework events. I have also prescribed Sileo for storm and hot air balloon phobia and for one dog who freaked out over visits from the garbage truck.
Sileo works best if given prior to the onset of the New Year’s Eve bombing raid but it will calm dogs who are already ramped-up. It can be redosed as often as every two hours. Dogs don’t mind the taste and they don’t act sedated.
Is it worth it to make life easier for scared pets? We treat physical pain. Reducing fear is no less important for dogs stuck in the weirdness of a human culture they can’t possibly understand.
This is the 21st holiday season I have been privileged to wish my readers a peaceful, joyful, and merry Christmas. Life is short for us, even shorter for our pets. Let’s savor every minute.
Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.