Have you ever seen those plug-in diffusers such as Comfort Zone that are supposed to keep your dog calm and wondered how they work? Just what are pheromones, anyway?
Pheromones are scents secreted by your dog that help your dog transmit information to other dogs, a sort of scent-based “text message” from your dog. Pheromones are used for purposes such as: reproduction (the pheromones help locate a female dog “on heat” or “in season” and work to attract the male dog), calming or appeasing (the pheromones transmit comfort and safety, like the ones a puppy receives from the mom while nursing) or for territorial purposes.
You can find products containing the Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P.), which mimics the natural pheromone. It comes in various forms such as sprays, plug-in diffusers, wipes, and collars. Other products contain natural ingredients of herbal blends that work to reduce stress. Products can be combined within variation of forms of D.A.P. or the natural herbal products.
What problems do the pheromone emitting products help your dog with? D.A.P. can help with issue such as:
- Separation-anxiety/distress or conditions relating to over-attachment
- Noise fears like: thunder, lightning, fireworks or loud noises
- Exposure to stressful environments: helping your pet assimilate new people, new pets, traveling, training, day care, cage confinement or an unpredictable event
How do I know if my dog is anxious or stressed? While signs may vary between dogs, some signs can include frequent barking and whining, being hyper-alert, not eating, trembling, and/or pacing.
Is it safe? Yes, pheromones products have no side effects (they can be used also in sick or older dogs). Additionally, they are easy to use, non-toxic and species specific – no other type of pets will be affected by it, and you will not be able to detect the scent. If you have several dogs in the house they might derive benefit as well.
Finally, does it work? Yes, research studies have shown that dog appeasing pheromones work in the situations previously described, although all dogs will respond differently. But like any medication, it does take time to see a response, around 14 days for the diffuser with an improvement within the first month and a maximum duration of use up to three months depending on the problem. The collar lasts 4 weeks but remember it will be less effective if it becomes wet. Plan ahead so you can begin using it several days before the anxiety-producing event.
Also remember that your dog is very receptive to what you do. If you stay calm, it will help to reassure your dog. Consult your veterinarian or your 1800PetMeds pharmacist if you have further questions.