The season of noise is upon us. This can be a stressful time for many dogs and cats. For those pets who are anxious and scared by the excessive noise and explosions, we often prescribe anti-anxiety medications and/or sedatives. These pet medications can be very helpful as a part of your overall strategy to reduce the anxiety that these stressful events can have on you and your household.
The key components to successful stress prevention for your pet are to plan ahead and if using medication, to start administering well before there is any stimulus that may cause fear and anxiety. Once your pet hears the noise and becomes fearful or anxious, it greatly reduces the effectiveness of the medication and/or stress relieving efforts.
We recommend that you start using sedatives or anti-anxiety medication at 1/2 dosing at least 2-4 days before you expect fireworks to start. On the day you expect noise in your neighborhood, you should start giving the full dose early in the day, well before it begins.
When starting any new medication of this type, we recommend that you do a "trial run" before the event to see how your pet responds. These medications often have a large safety margin that can be adjusted if needed in order to ensure efficacy and success.
This year, July 4th falls on Wednesday so it is very likely that there will be excessive noise beginning the weekend before the holiday and realistically it will continue all week through the following weekend. If this is likely to be the case in your neighborhood, please remember to put in your request for medication well in advance so we can be certain it is in stock and so that it can proactively administered.
If you are saw a great response and are happy with the medication you have used in the past, please call request a refill online or over the phone. Please note that your pet must be current on their Wellness Exam for the clinic to prescribe medication. If treating your pet for anxiety is new or you would like to try an alternative medication that may be more effective and please call us and we can discuss options.
Historically, we have prescribed sedatives like Acepromazine for many dogs. This medication is often effective, but it does cause sedation and does not specifically relieve stress. For the past few years, we have prescribed Trazodone more commonly because it has anti-anxiety and sedative effects.
Last year we started carrying Sileo which is the only FDA approved medication specifically for the treatment of noise aversion in dogs. This medication is unique since it calms without sedating. It can be used by itself or in combination with other medications based on your doctor’s recommendations. This medication can be used for any noise issues including fireworks, thunder, construction, etc.
We also have options available for cats. Most commonly prescribed is Gabapentin. It is used to help calm fearful kitties during times such as fireworks, thunder, travel in cars or even just trips to the vet. Gabapentin can be used in both cats and dogs.
In addition to prescription medications, we carry a natural, lactose free supplement derived from casein, a milk protein. The product is Zylkene. It can be given orally or sprinkled with food and is given once a day. Zylkene is safe for use in both cats and dogs.
To aid in a successful, untroubled home, here are a few other suggestions you can try to help prevent noise induced fear and stress:
If possible, travel to a quieter area away from your home for the July 4th holiday.
If staying at home, try to create a safe place for your dog or cat to be during the fireworks. They tend to feel safest in enclosed, den like areas. Some pets find a closet, bathroom or kennel to hide in when they are frightened. If you know where your pet’s “safe spot” is, get it ready so it is accessible and comfortable for them. Ideally, you can work with your pet prior to any stress to make this a safe place where they get treats and enjoy being.
Having other noise in the house to help mask the sudden explosions can also be helpful. Some people have the volume of music and television turned up loud to help drown out the loud noises. If possible, having the windows closed and the shades or curtains closed can help create a quieter, safer environment.
We want to help you and your pet have as stress-free and enjoyable July 4th holiday as possible. Please feel free to call with any questions or requests.
Thank you for allowing us to care for your furry family.
Diane Boudreau, Client Services.
Timothy R Kraabel, DVM, DABVP (Canine/Feline Practice)
Vice President American Board of Veterinary Practitioners