Easing dog stress during fireworks, storms

DETROIT – More pets run away on Independence Day than any other day.

A local veterinarian said there's a drug that can help if your dog gets stressed or scared during fireworks or storms.

Kiki is a Portuguese water dog who gets stressed during fireworks shows and thunderstorms.

"It was terrible to see her during a thunderstorm," said Dr. Michael Petty. 

She's not alone, many other dog owners have the same problem.

"She just gets really anxious and kind of screams and runs around," said Devin Hanson. "I try to do everything I can to comfort her, try to help her calm down."

Petty said he gives Kiki the medication Sileo before a major thunderstorm or fireworks.

"It was discovered that administering this drug in very very low doses help suppress the anxiety though the suppression of adrenaline release," Petty said. "Think about it if something scares you, it's very hard to get into your head and think about it in the moment. This allows the dog to sit back and kinda go 'Huh, what's the big deal?'"

Petty believes Sileo is better than a older options given to pets, like tranquilizing dogs before storms and fireworks.

"It helped the owner, it didn't really help the dog so much," Petty said. "It was kind of like the dogs were so drugged up, it was kind of like putting a straightjacket on them."

Owners would believe the dogs were calmed, Petty said, but emotionally, the dogs were not OK.

Sileo is a gel and is easy to give to your dog. Owners need to pull the dog's cheek aside and place a measured dose between the dog's cheek and teeth. Petty also said it can have lasting effects, helping the dog even without the medicine.

"We started using this primarily during the fireworks on July Fourth last year and one time we ran out," Petty said, "We had given it to her six or seven times in a row and one day we ran out. The fireworks started and she didn't care. That was really nice, because she had finally wrapped her head around it."

Petty said Sileo can also be beneficial for dogs who get car sick. 

Sileo costs between $25 and $30, but pet owners should consult a veterinarian before trying it.

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