In this article you will learn what pet pheromones are, how they impact our pets and the ways you can use calming pheromones to reduce your pet's anxiety!
What Are Pheromones?
Pheromones are chemicals that our pets naturally release into their environment in order to communicate with one another. These 'scent messages' are invisible (and odorless to people) but powerful, carrying a significant amount of information that influence the mood and behavior of the pets who come into contact with them. Every species has a unique set of pheromones they're capable of depositing into their environment, and these messages are always species-specific, meaning they can only be detected and understood by members of the same species. The type of pheromone an animal chooses to deposit into their environment will depend on the situation and what exactly they're trying to convey - feelings of safety and comfort, territorial warnings, fearful alerts, etc.
Both dogs and cats alike have a particular pheromone geared specifically towards relaxation that when released, conveys messages of happiness and security to members of the same species. Commercial calming pheromone products are synthetic versions of these natural calming messages and can have a profound effect on nervous, fearful or stressed pets.
How Do Calming Pheromones Work For Cats?
For cats, their calming pheromone is stored in their cheeks and is called the Feline Facial Pheromone (FFP). Cats who feel happy and safe will rub their face against things like furniture, people or other objects, releasing their FFP 'happy messages' into the environment for other cats to enjoy. Feline calming pheromone products mimic these cheek-based happy messages and have a naturally calming effect for the cats who come into contact with them.
When Should I Use Calming Pheromones for My Cats?
Calming pheromones can be used to help cats in a variety of contexts, but most commonly they are used for minimizing the impact of any situation that your cat could consider stressful - a trip to the vet, acclimating to a new home, a long car ride, etc. Providing your cat with calming pheromones during any new, potentially scary, situation will help to manage their fear and stress levels as they navigate the experience. Feline calming pheromones can also be used to help address specific behavior challenges including litterbox issues, inappropriate scratching and inter-cat aggression.
Which Commercial Calming Pheromone Product Do You Recommend For Cats?
Here at Epping Road Vet we love the feline calming pheromone product called Feliway. We sell Feliway products in-store at our hospital, as well as online through our online pharmacy which you can access here. Feliway comes in several different forms:
Diffuser: A pheromone diffuser is a small, refillable device that plugs into the wall, continuously releasing the pheromone into the environment. Pheromone diffusers are a great way to offer your cat consistent relaxation support within one particular environment. Each refill lasts about a month.
Spray: Pheromone sprays offer a wonderful, easy way to bring the calming affects of pheromones on the go! The spray version allows you to spray the pheromones on objects such as a towel, your cat's carrier or the inside of your car, which is a great option for stressful events that involve travel. The spray needs about 10-15 minutes to set before your cat should come into close contact with it.
How Do Calming Pheromones Work For Dogs?
For dogs, their calming pheromone is stored in the sebaceous glands of females and is known as the Dog-Appeasing Pheromone. Mother dogs release these dog-appeasing pheromones while she is nursing her puppies, sending soothing, calming signals to her young. Canine calming pheromone products mimic these comforting messages and have a naturally calming effect on the dogs who come into contact with them.
When Should I Use Calming Pheromones for My Dog?
Calming pheromones can be used to help dogs through any situation that they may deem scary or overwhelming, which will be different for each individual dog. Some dogs may benefit from calming pheromones while meeting new people, while other dogs could really use the support of calming pheromones during big thunderstorms. Providing your dog with calming pheromones during the situations they find stressful will help to manage their fear and anxiety levels as they navigate the experience.
Which Calming Pheromone Product Do You Recommend for Dogs?
At Epping Road Vet we love the canine calming pheromone product Adaptil. We sell Adaptil products in-store at our hospital, as well as online through our online pharmacy which you can access here. Adaptil comes in multiple forms including a spray, diffuser and a wearable collar:
Diffuser: A pheromone diffuser is a small, refillable device that plugs into the wall, continuously releasing the pheromone into the environment. Pheromone diffusers are a great way to offer your dog consistent relaxation support within one particular environment. Each refill lasts about a month.
Spray: The pheromone spray offers a wonderful, easy way to bring the calming affects of pheromones on the go! The spray version allows you to coat objects such as a dog bed or blanket in the pheromone, which is a great option for stressful events that involve travel. The spray also makes it quick and easy to add calming pheromones to environments that may not have an outlet for a diffuser, such as a car.
Collar: The wearable collar is a great, non-invasive way to offer your dog the soothing support of calming pheromones 24/7. This is a great option for dogs with generalized anxiety or fear, who need ongoing stress management as they navigate the world. The collar is thin and lightweight so your dog will barely notice it's there!
Working through significant behavior challenges with your dog or cat?
Despite their wonderful stress-reducing affects, calming pheromones alone will not solve significant behavior challenges. When addressing specific behavior concerns, pheromones are intended to be used in conjunction with a well-formed, multi-faceted behavior plan. If you are struggling with challenging behaviors from your dog or cat, reach out to discuss setting up a behavior consultation.