FDA approves drug for dogs with noise aversion (but not in time for New Year’s Eve)

The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine recently approved Pexion (imepitoin tablets) to treat noise aversion in dogs.

Symptoms of noise aversion include hiding; vocalizing (whining, barking, howling); and shaking or trembling. They may also vomit, urinate, or defecate. Some dogs may act out, damaging furniture, doors, dog beds, or other items in their surroundings.

It’s a common condition—one study found that 40% of dogs may suffer from some degree of noise aversion—and one with possibly serious health implications, indicates a study that shows that noise aversion in dogs could be a sign of serous pain.

According to the FDA, the effectiveness of Pexion was evaluated in a study of 90 client-owned dogs who had previously demonstrated noise aversion behaviors in response to fireworks. The dogs enrolled in the study received either Pexion or a placebo twice daily for two days leading up to New Year’s Eve, and on New Year’s Eve itself, when firework events were scheduled. During the fireworks, the owners evaluated their dogs’ responses based on 16 different behaviors at four pre-set intervals. The overall score for the dogs receiving Pexion were lower than those receiving the placebo, indicating that they showed less fear.

The owners also rated the overall effect of the treatment as compared to previous New Year’s Eve fireworks experiences with their dogs.

Two thirds of the owners who gave their dogs Pexion rated their dog’s response to the fireworks as excellent or good when compared to previous reactions to fireworks. Only 25% of owners whose dogs received the placebo gave a similar high rating.

The most common adverse events seen in the study were ataxia, increased appetite, lethargy, and vomiting.

The FDA also cautioned that some drugs used to reduce anxiety, such as Pexion, may lead to a change in aggression level. In the study, owners of three of the dogs who were given Pexion reported that their dogs showed signs of increased aggression, which included growling at a young child and lack of self-control around other dogs.

Pexion is manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim, but it won’t be a treatment option for noise aversion this New Year’s Eve—the drug isn’t commercially available yet in the US and the company hasn’t announced an expected rollout date.

Pexion has been available in Europe since 2013—but not for noise aversion. Authorities there approved the drug five years ago for reducing the frequency of seizures associated with canine idiopathic epilepsy.

Other noise aversion and anxiety-reducing therapies for dogs currently available or coming to the US include Sileo (desmedetomidine oromucosal gel), manufactured by Zoetis and approved by the FDA in 2016, and Nestlé Purina PetCare’s Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care, a nutritional supplement slated for rollout in January of 2019.

Photo credit: © iStock/sianc

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