FDA Approves Epilepsy Drug To Calm Dogs With Noise Anxiety

Yellow puppy labrador retriever hiding under a bed

(Picture Credit: Alexandre Tremblot de La Croix/Getty Images)

New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July may be the most stressful days of the year for dogs. It might not be because of the festivities in the house with guests, though that’s frightening enough for pups. Rather, the noises outside may scare them, especially fireworks and firecrackers.

For some dogs, this is not just a mild insecurity. They become genuinely anxious to the point of displaying symptoms like vomiting and howling, which are extreme signs of distress.

There are plenty of ways to reduce noise anxiety. Behavioral training, putting your dog in a room away from noise, and exercise before noisy events can all reduce anxiety. However, some dogs need more to stay calm. That’s why some dog owners consider medication to fight anxiety in their pooches.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a drug, Pexion, for use in reducing dogs’ stress and keeping pets calm during occasions where they’ll be exposed to loud noises.

Some Things To Know About Pexion

Pexion is already approved in other countries, but for different medical purposes. Specifically, vets use the drug Pexion as an anti-epilepsy drug. Seizure drugs like gabapentin can also be used to address the anxiety that dogs experience in relation to noise.

“Certain drugs used to reduce anxiety, such as Pexion, may lead to lack of self-control of fear-based behaviors and may therefore result in a change in aggression level. The label information accompanying Pexion notes the recommendation that owners should carefully observe their dogs during treatment,” said the FDA.

If your dog needs help with noise anxiety, talk to your veterinarian. They may recommend Pexion or other treatments for your pooch. Make sure to pay attention to dosage instructions and possible side effects before you make a decision to medicate your dog.

Why Fear Of Noises Can Be “Spooky Dog Syndrome”

Some dogs are more afraid of noises than others. There’s a test to see if your dog may suffer from what some call “Spooky Dog Syndrome.”

This syndrome can maybe be explained best by trainers at The Department of Defense Military Working Dogs Training School at Lackland Air Force Base. According to them, a simple test to measure a dog’s noise anxiety is to make a loud sound three times and see how they react.

In one experiment, a trainer entered a room carrying a metal chair as a dog and their handler waited in the room ahead of time. The trainer would then rap the chair three times. As expected, both the dogs and the handlers would be surprised. However, if a dog was unable to calm down afterwards, even after it’s clear that there is no real threat, it’s likely that they will become afraid of other things.

“That kind of dog will be afraid of thunder, fireworks, gunshots, artillery sounds, close flying planes, you name it. In addition, that kind of dog will be afraid of strangers and strange situations,” said the veteran trainer.

This is why they call it “Spooky Dog Syndrome.” A dog who is easily spooked can exhibit “spooky,” unreliable, or unpredictable behaviors in situations that cause them anxiety. That’s not good on the battlefield. It might not be good for your dog, either, if they’re meeting a new person or experiencing a new situation.

While there are no scientific experiments to show causality, evidence of Spooky Dog Syndrome has been seen in the military training course.

Behavior Modification For Calming Your Dog

Pet owners may find the new anxiety drug treatment to be a relief. However, if you want a more natural way to treat your dog’s anxiety, there are still a few ways to do so.

One such method is behavior modification or desensitization, where you can let your dog get used to low-level noise. You can take a look at the video above for some tips on how to get your dog used to certain sounds and reduce their anxiety.

Will you try this new anti-anxiety medication for dogs? Do you prefer behavior modification for treating noise anxiety? Let us know in the comments!

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