Pheromones for Dogs and Cats May Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety
How pheromone products work for pets
When our dogs arrive at the vet, they receive a bandana sprayed with a dog and cat-appeasing pheromone product to ensure they remain calm. This concept isn’t new, but many pet parents are hearing more about the benefits of these products that mimic the natural dog-appeasing pheromone.
What are dog-appeasing (and cat-appeasing) pheromone products?
Pheromones for Dogs mimic the pheromones produced by nursing mothers. Given that smell is a dog’s predominant sense, a calming scent ‘enrichment’ tool helps dogs with anxiety. In addition, pheromones help a dog feel safe and prevent unwanted behaviors like whining, crying and pacing.
There are still some research studies being completed on the efficacy of these products, but most experts say they are worth trying. According to one study:
“Dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) has been reported to reduce separation-induced anxiety (11), fear in puppies in a new environment (12), and anxiety and stress during transportation (13,14).
It can also diminish the anxiety of aggressive dogs (15), stresses of dogs in a public shelter (16), training-derived stresses of police dogs (17), and anxiety of puppies in learning and socialization (18). Also, DAP might be a potential treatment for dogs fearful of fireworks (19). Use of DAP in veterinary clinics was significantly associated with greater relaxation in dogs but did not affect aggression (20).”
Whether you are in a vet office or a dog training class, it may be worth spraying the area of the crate the dog will travel in or a bandana they can wear with pheromones for dogs during the trip.
Signs your dog is stressed or anxious
Does your dog need DAP? According to Lili Chin’s book, Doggie Language, dogs will typically have the following visual signs if they’re stressed:
- Lowered head
- Pinned back ears
- A still body
- Possible shivering
- Low Tail
Cats can also get stressed. Here are some of the signs:
- Grooming excessively
- Scratching more than normal
- Hiding and never coming out of isolation
- Vocalizing all day long
If you’re interested in learning more about what stress may look like in our pets, please visit our latest articles!
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Pheromones for cats
The experts at Fear Free Happy Homes, believe synthetic pheromones are an aid when managing behavioral issues with our feline friends.
“Does this mean you can plug in a diffuser, snap on a collar, or spritz a blanket and expect immediate and magical behavior changes? No. Some cats may be more receptive to the pheromones and alter their behavior, but pheromone products aren’t magic elixirs. The underlying cause of the stress must also be identified and resolved. Pheromone products don’t treat medical conditions.”
Safe alternative to medication
I haven’t noticed any side effects after using pheromones products for dogs for over a year with my two dogs. The only side effect may be from the collar itself as some of them are rubber and don’t appear very comfortable for dogs. According to Petmd.com, there are no reports of side effects, and experts have not seen a bad reaction for the calming pheromones. This article also mentions that the products available are not magic. Many pet owners opt for this product versus relying on medication for their dog’s anxiety. It’s essential to work with your vet or vet behaviorist if your dog has an issue that causes them to injure themselves or a member of their human family.
Pheromone Products for Dogs and Cats and their Applications
Dog and cat appeasing pheromones come in various products like collars, wipes, wall plug-ins, and sprays. Some pet owners try these as an alternative to medication. The categories of pheromone products for dogs and cats include:
Collars (For everyday use and classes)
According to Rover.com, the collars typically get mixed reviews and are less effective than the diffusers and sprays.
Diffusers (Wall plug-ins)
If you place the diffusers in a high-traffic area where your dogs spend a lot of time, like the family room or your bedroom, you may notice your dog calming down.
Calming sprays (travel)
You can spray it on a paper towel and place it inside your car or your dog’s crate when you travel. Never spray it ON your dog.
What are the best products?
Our stores carry Adaptil spray for canines and an air diffuser that mimics this specific pheromone. It sends “comforting messages” to help puppies and dogs feel calm and relaxed in situations that may cause fear and anxiety.
Pheromone products for cats sold at our stores include Feliway, which mimics cat-specific pheromones that send “happy and harmony messages” to cats. Cats leave these messages in their environment when they feel comfortable, and a mother produces these messages for her kittens.
As with anxiety in humans, there is no magic bullet for treating anxiety in pets. Using a strategy combining training, environmental modification, exercise, calming treat supplements, and pheromones, many pet owners see improvement in their pet’s behavior.
Other calming products
Visit our latest article about products that help with dog anxiety include the Thundershirt. This vest works by applying pressure to the dog’s torso causes a calming effect similar to swaddling a crying infant or hugging a distressed person.
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*If your pet is experiencing any strange behavior, see your vet. These products are meant to help with anxiety and behavioral issues, but your pet may need medication.