Have you heard about pheromones and their use in behavioural problems in cats and dogs?
Pheromones are extremely widespread in the animal kingdom but we (as mere humans) are often unaware of the powerful effect they can have! Pheromones are a chemical produced by special glands which signal a particular message to other animals of the same species. Examples of pheromone signals include ‘I’m in heat!’, ‘This is my territory!’, ‘I’m anxious and scared!’ or ‘I’m happy and relaxed!’ Other animals sense the pheromones through a specialised scent organ in the nose and mouth – called the vomeronasal organ. Pheromones are not a pleasing odour or scent. They are a specialised chemical signal that triggers a social response in others.
So how can we use pheromone to help our pets?
Pheromones are species specific. This means that your cat will only respond to feline pheromones, your dog will only respond to canine pheromones and you won’t respond to either!
Feliway® for cats is identical to the facial pheromone that is secreted from a cats’ cheek. Cats use this pheromone to facially mark familiar objects in their core territory, a place they feel safe and secure.
ADAPTIL® for dogs is a synthetic copy of the natural canine appeasing pheromone produced by the lactating bitch from between the mammary glands when nursing puppies. It has a comforting and reassuring role in both puppies and adults.
By exposing our pets to Feliway® or ADAPTIL® we can signal to them that they are safe, secure and in a relaxed and happy place. This is a GOOD thing to signal to our pets! It makes them happy and that makes us happy!
Feliway® and ADAPTIL® have many different uses. Feliway® can be used to help prevent indoor urine marking, destructive scratching, and conflicts between cats sharing a household. Both products will help cats and dogs cope with changes such as moving house, building work or redecoration, a new arrival (a baby, a new pet or visitors) or fear of people or noises. They can be very useful in helping your pet to cope with the stress of travel or even a trip to the vet if they are anxious.
Pheromones come in different preparations. Both Feliway® and ADAPTIL® can be used as a plug in diffuser. This is a great option for indoor animals with problems at home. Both products can be used as a spray, misted onto items of frequent use such as a bed or travel cage or onto a bandanna tied around the animal’s neck. This is a great option for short term use such as travel related anxiety or firework nights. For dogs, ADAPTIL® is also presented in a long acting collar. The heat from the dog’s body activates the pheromone impregnated into the rubber collar and releases a constant amount over one month. This is fantastic in dogs undergoing long term stress or suffering anxiety based around an outdoor situation. The collar goes with the dog and along comes happiness for the ride!
Over the next few weeks we will write a few more blogs about some of these specific uses of pheromones in more detail. Our goal is to help you have a happy pet at home. That way, everyone is happy and relaxed! Please make an appointment to talk to one of the vets about any behaviour problems that your pet may have.
Information extracts from published work by CEVA Animal Health Pty Ltd.