Undetectable to the human nose, synthetic pheromones can be sniffed out by pets.
Pets thrive with routine. Some are so sensitive, that even the smallest deviation brings about a host of unwanted behaviors. Big things like moving into a new house or bringing home a new baby, construction work outside your house and heading back to school can cause your pet to act out. This includes destruction, marking, constant barking/meowing and other behaviors that can cause harm to your dog or cat.
To deal with these kinds of behaviors, or for separation anxiety, pet parents have been using pet pheromone products. Pheromones are a type of chemical communication between members of a species, such as dogs and cats. Also called calming pheromones, many believe that they can help relieve stressed pets. The pet pheromone products are synthetic, and are meant to mimic natural cat or dog pheromones. They come in an array of forms, including sprays, plug-in diffusers, wipes and collars.
If your pet suffers from anxiety, synthetic pheromone products may help to modify your dog’s or cat’s behavior. They can be pricey, so it's worth your while to do some research. Here’s some background information that should help you decide on whether it’s the right investment for you.
Pheromone products were first introduced in the U.S. back in 2001 as a non-drug alternative for stressed animals with destructive behaviors. Pet parents like the science behind the product, and the fact that they carry no side effects. Dogs and cats have “receptors” (located between the nose and mouth) that help them recognize certain pheromones as positive, which produces a calming effect.
Dog-specific pheromone products can help with separation anxiety, noise phobias (including thunderstorms or fireworks) and travel. They are not, however, effective at treating canine aggression.
As far as research, there have been several studies conducted (some were funded by the manufacturer) that found pheromone products for cats and for dogs did help soothe stressed pets during certain circumstances. The Journal of Veterinarian Medical Science reports that a one-month clinical trial of feline pheromones used to treat urine marking resulted in a complete resolution to the problem in 37 percent of the cats tested, greatly reduced in 40 percent of cats and unchanged in 23 percent.
For cats, it works by imitating the F3 facial pheromones they deposit when rubbing their face against surfaces. That means when your cat rubs her face on your leg or on furniture, he's laying claim to his territory. When he smells pheromones around the house, he is calmed because it reassures him that it’s his safe space. For dogs, it mimics the pheromones produced by nursing mother dogs to comfort their puppies.
Effects are usually noticed within 14 days for the diffuser and improve during the first month. But because pets have different personalities, they also have different reactions to pheromone products. That's why experts say that it can never be used in isolation when treating problematic pets. Behavior modifications and other therapies are needed to ensure success.
Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.