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FDA approves drug for dogs scared by noise

The drug was developed top treat epilepsy but can treat anxiety, too.
Image: Dalmation by a chair
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Most pets don’t like loud noises, but some dogs really lose their cool when they hear fireworks or even loud traffic — vomiting, howling and damaging furniture.

Now vets can prescribe a drug to help keep them calm.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug, Pexion, to treat dogs freaked out by noises.

The drug is approved in other countries for use in treating epilepsy. Known generically as imepitoin, the drug is similar to Valium and other benzodiazepines but works in a different way to treat noise aversion. Other seizure drugs, such as gabapentin, can also treat some types of anxiety.

“Dogs with noise aversion are sensitive to loud noises such as fireworks, street/traffic noises, and gun shots,” the FDA said Tuesday.

“Dogs may show their distress through hiding; vocalizing (whining, barking, howling); panting, shaking or trembling; or may vomit, urinate or defecate. Some dogs may damage furniture, doors, dog beds, or other items in their surroundings.”

Studies have shown that Pexion can help dogs stay calm during fireworks shows, the FDA said. “The owners of 66 percent of dogs receiving Pexion scored the overall treatment effect as excellent or good, compared with 25 percent of dogs receiving the placebo.”

The drug must be used cautiously. “The owners of three of the 90 dogs that received Pexion in the effectiveness trial also reported that their dogs became aggressive, including growling towards a young child and lack of restraint or self-control towards other dogs,” the FDA said.

“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.”

The drug was originally developed to treat epilepsy in people but it had some troubling effects on metabolism so was never brought to market for use in humans.