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Updated: June 28, 2018 (Scroll down as the FDA RE-ISSUES WARNING on Sileo)
Updated: June 21, 2017 (Scroll down to see the FDA WARNING on Sileo)
Fourth of July is right around the corner and we know what that means. Partying, fireworks and a whole lot of anxiety for your pup’s. It’s common for many pets to become frightened when hearing loud noises. Because of that fear, they sometimes end up destroying property, running away, causing injuries to those around them or worse, getting killed by running into traffic.
But a new anti-anxiety drug, Sileo, wants to change that. Sileo will be available through U.S. veterinarians in the coming week. Many veterinarians are excited, because this the first FDA approved drug for use in pets to treat noise related phobias and sensitivities. Presently, what is given to dogs for anxiety are more like tranquilizers (which sedates them) or Xanax.
According to the U.S. distributor of the product, veterinary drug company Zoetis, July 5 is the most common day for frustrated pet owners to drop off their dog off to a shelter.
How It Works
Sileo is applied by taking a needleless syringe that is filled with gel, and applying it to the lining of the dog’s cheek. The medication goes to work by blocking a particular brain chemical called norepinephrine (think adrenaline for humans). Within an hour your dog will be flying high as a kite, or really drowsy at least. It’s estimated to last anywhere from two to three hours.
Many veterinarians seem to be quite impressed with Sileo because of it’s effectiveness, but also due to the fact that it’s much easier to administer than pills. The company also did some testing. They took 182 Beagles (Snoopy’s) on New Year’s Eve and administered the drug. Around 75% of the owners rated it as excellent, as opposed to 33% whose dogs got a placebo.
They mention that the side effects were rare and minor. What does that mean? There were no examples given. But there are concerns in the vet community regarding prescribing it to pet parents, specifically because of the potential to overdose.
“We use it very cautiously here simply because it does have a very significant effect on the heart rate, so we always worry about, especially in an at home setting.” – Dr. Christy Layton, Timberlane Pet Hospital
What’s In Sileo
Sileo’s active ingredient is Dexmedetomidine hydrochloride, which basically is used for sedation. Some of the side effects are abnormally low blood pressure, abnormally slow heart action and sinoatrial arrest. Sinoatrial arrest or sinus arrest is when the sinoatrial node of one’s heart stops sending electrical impulses that stimulates myocardial tissue to contract. Basically, your heart stops beating for a few seconds. Scary isn’t it?
What’s even more scary is that sinoatrial arrest can lead to cardiac arrest. So yes, it’s possible for your pets heart to completely stop and give out. Essentially, it can kill them.
As the pet parent who is administering it, you need to take very special precautions. You will need to wear impermeable gloves (disposable is fine). If by chance your skin comes into contact with the gel, Zoetis says you’ll need to, “wash the exposed skin immediately after exposure with large amounts of water and remove contaminated clothes. In case of eye or oromucosal contact, rinse abundantly with fresh water. If symptoms occur, seek the advice of a physician.”
Gosh isn’t that enough to give you a panic attack? Sileo is looking more toxic and less safe by the minute. If you want to read more on the other ingredients and it’s characteristics you can go here.
Zoetis’ warning says this:
“Do not use SILEO in dogs with severe cardiovascular disease, respiratory, liver or kidney diseases, or in conditions of shock, severe debilitation or stress due to extreme heat, cold or fatigue or in dogs hypersensitive to dexmedetomidine or to any of the excipients. SILEO should not be administered in the presence of preexisting hypotension, hypoxia or bradycardia. Do not use in dogs sedated from previous dosing. SILEO has not been evaluated in dogs younger than 16 weeks of age or in dogs with dental or gingival disease that could have an effect on the absorption of SILEO. SILEO has not been evaluated for use in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs. Transient pale mucous membranes at the site of application may occur with SILEO use. Other uncommon adverse reactions included emesis, drowsiness or sedation. Handle gel-dosing syringes with caution to avoid direct exposure to skin, eyes or mouth.”
No surprise that on May 23, 2017 the United States Food and Drug Administration released a statement that warns both pet owners and veterinarians about the risk of overdosing dogs with Sileo. Over half of the reported overdose dogs had the following symptoms: lethargy, sedation, sleepiness, slow heart rate, loss of consciousness, shallow or slow breathing, trouble breathing, impaired balance or incoordination, low blood pressure and muscle tremors. The overdoses seemed to have happened due to the “ring-stop” mechanism on the syringe. It should be noted that the FDA re-issued a warning regarding Sileo on June 28, 2018.
To be fair no deaths have been reported, but Zoetis (maker of Sileo) was sure to quickly put out a press release and blame the pet parents. Yes, as pet parents it’s our responsibility to care for our fur babies, but doesn’t Zoetis have a responsibility to consumers? How about creating something less toxic? Or creating a better syringe to ensure that overdoses and potential deaths don’t happen? Unfortunately, it seems like it will fall on deaf ears and that Zoetis could really care less.
- Thundershirts: It applies a gentle and constant pressure on your dogs torso. The compression is thought to calm them. Now this was originally made for pets who get scared during thunderstorms. But thunderstorms and fireworks are similar. We have a friend whose dog suffered from separation anxiety, after using this the dog calmed down and no longer suffers as a result.
- Calming Nerves: Chamomile, dragon bone (herb), Magnesium, Vitamin B Complex and Melatonin are all natural ways to help calm your pups nerves.
As always, before taking anything, consult a veterinary professional or nutritionist on the dosage for the above supplements.
Will you be giving your dog Sileo? Comment below and don’t forget to share!