Dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel for noise-associated acute anxiety and fear in dogs—a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study
Korpivaara, M. et al (2017) Dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel for noise-associated acute anxiety and fear in dogs—a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Veterinary Record, 180(14), pp. 356-362
Sensitivity to noise is one of the most common behavioural concerns reported by dog owners, with fearful response to fireworks being particularly prevalent. This study, which was sponsored by the Orion Corporation, assessed the efficacy of dexmedetomidine (an α-2 adrenoreceptor agonist) oromucosal gel in alleviating acute anxiety and fear associated with noise in dogs.
The main study assessments were performed by the dog’s owners on New Year’s Eve. 182 dogs were randomly allocated to receive either 125 µg/m2 dexmedetomidine (n=89) or an equivalent volume of placebo gel applied to oral mucosa (n=93) up to five times as required at no less than 2 hour intervals. Owners and study personnel were blinded to treatment allocation. Owner’s assessments included overall treatment effect, descriptions of behaviours that might indicate anxiety or fear and functional alertness. Dexmedetomidine treatment was not compared to other current therapies used to manage acute anxiety or fear.
Results showed a higher proportion of dogs in the treatment group were reported to have good or excellent treatment effect, compared to what owners recalled from the previous year. Treated dogs showed significantly fewer signs of fear and anxiety although a significant placebo effect was also reported. Dexmedetomidine was not shown to have any significant sedative effect.
An editorial in the same issue the Veterinary Record discusses the problem of noise sensitivity in dogs and the benefits that can be derived from long term programmes that desensitise dogs to noise. Commenting that short term interventions are still required and that this study on dexmedetomidine is a useful addition to the evidence base in this area.
Dexmedetomidine is a useful addition to the short term treatment options for the important welfare issue of noise sensitivity in dogs.
Image copyright attribute:
pitrs / 123RF Stock Photo