Is your dog more “Roo in Headlights” than “Cool as a Cucumber”?
Pheromone sprays, such as the Adaptil Transport Spray and similar products, can ease stress and anxiety for both your dog and yourself in numerous situations. But why, how, and do they really work?
We did a fair bit of research and surveyed a few Aussie dog owners to find out.
In this guide we’ll look at why appeasing pheromone products work, and we’ll take a look at the Adaptil range of products as the leading brand in Australia.
What are appeasing pheromones and pheromone sprays for dogs?
Our dogs communicate in many ways. Did you know they emit natural chemical signals to communicate with each other?
These signals are known as pheromones, and they play a significant role in the behavioural and emotional reactions of your dog.
Appeasing pheromones are associated with calming. Also referred to as DAP (dog appeasing pheromones), these are what a mother dog will naturally release to keep her litter of puppies calm.
Nature is amazing, isn’t it?
Pheromone sprays utilise appeasing pheromones to offer you a convenient and non-invasive way to help your dog through stressful situations.
In what situations can pheromone spray help your dog?
In some situations like vet visits, being left alone, and traveling in a car, our dogs can clearly show signs of anxiety, but there are many other situations which can really affect them without us noticing.
Here are the top reasons dog owners use a pheromone spray:
- #1 Thunderstorms and fireworks – Two situations which leave our dogs hiding and shaking under the nearest bed, table, or corner. The anxiety caused by loud bangs affects most dogs, which means this is the most beneficial time to have a pheromone spray at hand.
- #2 Separation anxiety – Many dogs, especially puppies, get very anxious when left home alone for any length of time, and to tackle this you need a combination of training and boredom busters, and you can really take the edge off your dog’s anxiety with pheromone spray.
- #3 Travelling – Most dogs love cars, many don’t. If your dog hates cars then you’ll face problems when you need to take your dog on a long trip, or even a short trip to the vets. A pheromone spray can make them feel more comfortable, and a pet carrier with a familiar blanket is also a very good idea.
- #4 Veterinary visits – It takes one scary vet visit to trigger anxiety in our dogs on all subsequent trips. Not only does it stress us out to see our dogs scared at the vets, many find it slightly embarrassing dragging our dog across the waiting room. The best way to avoid this is taking your puppy to a puppy socialising class at the vets when they’re young, but if you missed that opportunity then a pheromone spray should help them through any examinations, vaccinations, or other medical procedures.
- #5 Socialisation with other dogs – Whether your dog is uneasy about a run-in with another dog in the park in the past, or they’re generally uneasy around other dogs, you’ll likely want to do your best to make them more comfortable in unavoidable situations with other dogs. Socialisation issues come in 5th with the top reasons for anxiety, but are still very common.
We’ve covered the top causes of anxiety in dogs, but there are many other situations which cause stress, and you may consider using a pheromone spray for these as well:
- Behavioural issues – Most behavioural issues require training, consideration, and often a change in our own behaviour around our dogs, but pheromone sprays can make our lives easier by helping our dogs feel more secure and less stressed.
- Training aid – Dogs are more receptive to training methods when they feel calm, so if obedience training is failing and your stress levels are rising, a pheromone spray may give you more success (as long as you’re training them the right way!)
- Moving home, visiting friends, on taking your dog on holiday – Any new environment can be overwhelming for our dogs, and usually we’re too caught up in the excitement to realise our dogs are in a state of panic. Pheromone sprays can provide a familiar and calming scent which helps your dog adapt more easily, and feel more comfortable more quickly.
- Introducing your dog to a new pet – Tensions and conflict can be rife when introducing your dog to a new pet, or the new pet to your dog and home. A pheromone spray should not only reduce anxiety, but also help prevent any aggression or territorial disputes.
- Post-op stress – If your dog has to undertake surgery or a medical procedure, combined with a stressful visit to the vets, a pheromone spray can help them through the pain and stress of recovery.
- Senior dogs – When our dogs reach senior years we are often unaware they begin to suffer more anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, or confusion. Often they can benefit from the comfort and stability offered by a pheromone spray.
In all the above situations, many dog owners have found a pheromone spray an easy and non-invasive way to improve their dog’s wellbeing.
Spotting the symptoms of stress and anxiety
Signs of anxiety and stress aren’t always clear, so watch out for the following symptoms:
- Restlessness, pacing, and whining
- Drooling and panting
- Aggression and destructive behaviour
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Compulsive behaviours
The most common pheromone spray in Australia is Adaptil, so let’s take a look.
Adaptil – Which product is right for you?
Adaptil is a well-known and proven brand when it comes to dog appeasing pheromones, with a range of products to help you and your dog through various stressful situations.
You will find Adaptil sold by most Australian retailers including Petbarn and Petstock. Online retailers tend to offer the best prices, and at the time of writing :Pet Circle: are by far the most competitive.
The Adaptil product that works for you will depend on the situation you are hoping to address, but here are a few suggestions:
- Adaptil Transport Spray – As a pheromone spray this will give you the best in versatility, and not just for “transport”. You can easily use this spray on your dog’s bed or place of comfort, inside a crate, kennel, or boot of your car. The spray is odourless, so there’s no need to worry about your car smelling.
- Adaptil Calming Collars (Calm On-The-Go Collars for Puppies and Adult Dogs) – These collars last about 4 weeks, but they’re affordable and a great option if your puppy is anxious in a new home or you need a solution which lasts a few weeks.
- Adaptil Calm Home Diffuser – Just like those diffusers you can use to make your home smell of flowers, the Adaptil Calm Home Diffusers are plugged into a spare socket – in the room your dog spends most of their time, and can be refilled. These are a great option for you if your dog suffers anxiety or destructive behaviour around the home, or if you’re concerned about thunderstorms or fireworks.
The Adaptil products show no reported side effects. In fact, the only negative report I found was from a dog who simply didn’t like wearing the calming collar.
Research has shown all the products in the Adaptil range can work well, and for many it’s the go to brand. In Australia, Adaptil is the obvious choice for pheromone sprays and appeasing pheromone products.
Further thoughts on appeasing pheromones?
We would be interested to know what has worked for you. In the comments section below, feel free to answer the following questions if you have experience:
- In what situations has your dog or puppy shown signs of stress and anxiety?
- Have you had experience with appeasing pheromones, pheromone sprays, or other DAP products?
- Have Adaptil products worked for you, and if so, which ones and why?
- If you have used alternative products to Adaptil, which ones, and what feedback can you offer?
Science and research
- National Library of Medicine – Efficacy of dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) for ameliorating separation-related behavioral signs in hospitalized dogs