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Pets, like humans, can get stressed out. Things like new homes, visitors, thunderstorms, or separation anxiety can be major stressors for cats and dogs alike. Stressors like this can trigger destructive or bothersome behaviors like urinating in the house, excessive vocalizing, trembling, panting, or chewing.
There are a number of ways to address anxiety in pets, and most vets will recommend a daily oral prescription medication to manage anxiety. However, these can be costly and inconvenient and may cause undesirable side effects. Pet owners may not prefer to use oral prescription medication, and turn to alternatives like pheromone calming sprays.
There are hundreds on the market, but you may be curious about their effectiveness and how they work. Here are some quick answers about pet calming sprays.
Q: What are pheromones?
A: Pheromones are a type of chemical communication between members of a species. The vomeronasal organ, which is located between the nose and mouth, receives pheromones. Certain pheromones, called calming or appeasing pheromones, can sometimes help relieve stressed pets. Pet pheromoneproducts are said to mimic natural cat or dog pheromones and come in various forms, including sprays, plug-in diffusers, wipes, and collars.
Q: What type of behaviors can pet calming sprays address?
A: Pet calming sprays were first released for cats to help curb marking or spraying and aggression problems. Users quickly discovered that the sprays also helped decrease behavioral issues like scratching and zoomies.
Dog calming sprays are suitable for general stress, separation anxiety, and noise phobias like thunderstorms or fireworks. However, dog calming sprays are often not effective for aggression problems. It should also be noted that behavioral problems can have medical causes, so pets should be thoroughly examined by a vet even if calming sprays seem to alleviate these behaviors.
Q: Do pet calming sprays work?
A: The most common pet calming spray is Feliway, specifically designed for cats. Comfort Zone D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) is also widely-used. Both products were found to help soothe stressed pets in some circumstances in studies funded by the product designers.
Cats deposit F3 feline pheromones when they rub their cheeks against surfaces. This reminds them later that the marked area is safe. Feliway and other feline calming sprays mimic the F3 pheromone very closely and may help reduce anxious behaviors like spraying and scratching.
Comfort Zone mimics the pheromone that nursing dogs release to comfort their puppies. This may help with general anxiety, as well as stress caused by vet visits, travel, fireworks and other loud noises or separation anxiety.
While pet calming sprays do seem to help reduce some select signs of stress and are safe, it’s important to note that they do not address the underlying causes of behavioral issues. Always consult your vet when introducing any product such as a calming spray into your pet’s environment.