Michigan vet says drug can ease pet's fears during fireworks, thunderstorms

More pets run away on 4th of July than any other day

By Meaghan St Pierre - Producer

CANTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - While we may love the sights and sounds of fireworks, the light shows can be very stressful and frightening for our furry friends. 

More pets run away on the 4th of July holiday than any other day. 

Veterinarian Dr. Michael Petty says his own dog Kiki, a Portuguese Water Dog, had trouble during thunderstorms and fireworks. 

"It was terrible to see her during a thunderstorm or fireworks, she would pace back and forth, she'd get up on the bed, she'd get up on the furniture, get down, she'd hide behind the furniture on and on and on," Petty said. 

In the summer of 2016 he starting giving her the drug Sileo before a thunderstorm or fireworks show. 

"Sileo is a new formulation of a drug that's been around for a very long time," Petty said. "It was discovered that administering this drug in very, very low doses help suppress the anxiety response through suppression of adrenaline release. So 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 kind of go 'Huh? What's the big deal?" 

Petty, who runs Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital in Canton Township, said Sileo is much better than an older option given to pets. 

"In the bad old days, the only thing we really had to give to these dogs was a tranquilizer called Acepromazine and it helped the owner, it didn't really help the dog so much. It was kind of like the dogs were so drugged up, it was like putting a straight-jacket on them and the owners would think 'Oh he's relaxed now,' but inside he was seething and actually in some cases made it worse. So the next storm would come and they would be even more anxious because not only were they afraid of it, they couldn't do anything about it. So anyone that has their dog on Acepromazine it's time to switch over to the Sileo," Petty said. 
Sileo is a gel and Petty said it's very easy to give to a pet. 

"You pull the check aside and stick it between the cheek and the teeth and you give the measured out dose," Petty said. 

Petty said using Sileo can also make it easier for pets the next time they encounter loud noises including thunderstorms and fireworks. 

"They view the next one better and better and better," Petty said. "We started using this primarily during the fireworks on July 4th last year and one day we ran out. 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 and that was really nice because she had finally wrapped her head around it. 

Petty said Sileo can also be good for dogs who get car sick. The drug costs around $25 to $30. People should consult with their veterinarian  before using it on their pet. Petty said the drug could have a negative impact on dogs who have cardiomyopathy. 

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