Pheromones are chemicals which both people and animals give off naturally as a way of communicating to others of the same species. Different pheromones have different impacts on the mood and behavior of the animal that smells them. A pheromone may cause alarm, attraction, or be used to mark territory. If you’ve ever wondered what Fido is sniffing when he insists on stopping at every lamp post, it’s a territorial pheromone–both cats and dogs secrete territorial pheromones in their urine. Pheromones can also produce happiness and calm. We use calming synthetic pheromones to reduce anxiety in both our feline and canine patients.
The feel-good pheromone produced in the cheek pouches of the cat, the one they rub on their favourite things, is available as a product called Feliway. Feliway is now one of the best selling feline products in the world. It has been found to be extremely effective in calming cats in stressful situations. When your cat smells Feliway, his or her anxiety level drops. Feliway comes as a spray or room diffuser. A diffuser can be used in multi cat households, when introducing a new cat, or to help resolve litter box issues. When your cat is about to have something scarey happen such as moving, a new baby in the household, or having houseguests, try using a diffuser in your cat’s favourite area, or spritzing their bedding to make the cat more accepting of the situation. If your cat is anxious about going in his or her carrier to the vet or to travel, spray the inside of the carrier and bedding to reduce your kitty’s stress levels. Here at Blue Cross Animal Hospital, we use a Feliway diffuser in our cat ward at all times. As well, very high strung cats get Feliway sprayed towels in their cages to help reduce their anxiety even more.
The pheromone product for dogs is called Adaptil. The pheromone it contains is the one put out around the mammary glands of mother dogs for several weeks after whelping. It is the one the pups associate with mom and comfort and safety. Adaptil comes as a collar or spray. It can be very useful for reducing your dog’s anxiety level around strange situations, noise phobias, and changes in environment. (Some noise phobias and behaviours will also need counter conditioning to relieve them completely.) It is now recommended by canine behaviour experts that all puppies going to a new home go with Adaptil to reduce their stress at the new situation. A study done with pups showed crying at night stopped almost completely after the first night when Adaptil was used. Pups placed in they new home without the pheromone to calm them, cried for many nights. We put a bandana sprayed with Adaptil on our anxious patients to relieve their anxiety and help calm them while they are here at Blue Cross.
We have Feliway and Adaptil available without prescription. If you think your pet would like some calming pheromones drop in and talk to one of our knowledgeable team members.