Canine Noise Aversion
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The fear and anxiety associated with noise is commonly called noise sensitivity, anxiety or phobia, depending upon the types and severity of clinical signs. Noise aversion is a term used to encompass the spectrum of degrees of fear and anxiety associated with noise.
Although noise aversion is common, dog owners often do not seek help from their veterinarians. A U.S.-based study reported that 40 percent of pet owners seek treatment from their veterinarian and 20 percent look for solutions on their own. The remaining 40 percent of dogs suffering from noise aversion do not receive any treatment.2 One reason may be that pet owners recognize that their dogs overreact to noise, but do not recognize that these behaviors are a demonstration of fear.3
Triggers, Causes and Signs
Common triggers for noise aversion include:
Fear of noises is a normal adaptive response to a real threat, resulting in behavioral and physiological survival responses that drive the dog to seek shelter or otherwise avoid the imminent danger.4 However, when the fearful response to noise is persistent, exaggerated in intensity and duration and results in what appears to be an anxiety attack, this is not normal. Additionally, if left untreated, noise aversion can progress, resulting in an increased intensity of signs, aversion to other types of noises and/or development of other types of anxiety.
The exact cause of noise aversion is not well understood. Some possible mechanisms include lack of habituation, stress-induced dishabituation, sensitization or social transmission.5 Evidence for genetic predisposition has been demonstrated in some breeds.6,7
Frequency of behaviors reported by pet owners2
Treatment and Management
Canine noise aversion is an animal welfare issue that impacts the human-animal bond. Yet, historically, treatment has typically been inadequate or ineffective. Treatment options have been limited and have included a multimodal approach that employed environmental management, behavioral modification and pharmacologic agents. Few of these treatment modalities have strong evidence of effectiveness for noise aversion; most have variable responses and can be limited due to lack of pet owner compliance.
Additionally, positive outcomes are frequently compromised by delaying any treatment until the signs of the dog’s distress are more profound or its behavioral responses become problematic to the owner. Such delays can lead to an increase in the intensity and duration of the response to the noise, to the development of noise aversion to other sounds or to the development of other anxiety disorders, further exacerbating the dog’s condition.
Now there is a simple solution for effective medical intervention.
SILEO® (dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel) is the first FDA-approved medication indicated for the treatment of canine noise aversion.
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Important Safety Information: 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 or for aversion behaviors to thunderstorms. Transient pale mucous membranes at the site of application may occur with SILEO use. Other uncommon adverse reactions included emesis, drowsiness or sedation. Handlers should avoid direct exposure of SILEO to their skin, eyes or mouth. Failure to lock the ring-stop on the syringe before dosing SILEO could potentially lead to an accidental overdose. Always review INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE before dispensing and dosing. See full Prescribing Information.
- 2. FR Market Research – Noise Aversion; February 2016; N=472 Dog Owners, N=454 General Practitioners.
- 3. Blackwell EJ, Bradshaw JWS, Casey RA. Fear responses to noises in domestic dogs: prevalence, risk factors and co-occurrence with other fear related behavior. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2013;145(1-2):15-25.
- 4. Crowell-Davis SL, Storm and noise phobias. Comp Cont Educ Pract. 2006;28(12):850-852.
- 5. Sherman BL, Mills DS. Canine anxieties and phobias: an update on separation anxiety and noise aversions. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2008;38(5):1081-1106.
- 6. Overall, K. Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences, 2013:256-264.
- 7. Murphree OD, Dykman RA, Peters JE. Genetically-determined abnormal behavior in dogs: results of behavioral tests. Conditional Reflex. 1967;2(3):199-205.
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