Friday, July 23, 2010

Supplements for Reactive Dogs, Part 5: Dog Appeasing Pheromones

This is part of an ongoing series on supplements recommended on the internet for reactive dogs. I am not a vet, nor have I personally tried most of these supplements with my dog, which means that I cannot tell you if you should or shouldn’t use them with your own. I’m also a lazy researcher, and used Wikipedia for my starting point. Google filled in the rest, and while I think I’m pretty good at separating the good sites from the propaganda, I cannot verify the accuracy of their claims. If you want to use a supplement with your dog, do your own research, and consult with your vet.

In other words: Use this information at your own risk.

Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP)
What is it? How does it work?
Dog Appeasing Pheromones, most commonly referred to as DAP, is a chemical synthesized to act like a hormone produced by nursing mothers. This hormone is an “appeasing” pheromone, which helps comfort puppies and promote mother-puppy bonding. DAP is used to treat anxiety, fear and other stress-related behavioral problems.

What are the risks of using it?
There are no known side-effects, however, the spray form should not be sprayed directly on your dog. The diffuser should be unplugged once it is empty.

Availability and dosing considerations.
DAP is made by Comfort Zone as a plug-in diffuser, a collar, and a spray, and is available on the internet and at pet stores nationwide. The diffuser and collar are for long-term stress relief and need to be replaced monthly, while the spray can be used as needed for short-term stress relief. The spray should be used 15-30 minutes prior to stressful events, and needs to be refreshed every 2 hours.

Are there any scientific studies supporting its use in canines?
This study found that DAP was effective in reducing fear and anxiety in puppies in puppy classes. This one found that it helped reduce symptoms of stress such as barking and increased resting rates among shelter dogs. This page discusses some other studies, and concludes that although more research is needed, DAP appears to be a useful addition to behavior modification plans.

The general consensus on the dog training email lists I belong to is that DAP is generally useful, although it does not work for all dogs. I do use DAP with Maisy and have had some good experiences with it. It certainly is not a cure-all, but it seems to take the edge off when she’s in stressful situations.


janaARIES said...

I tried using the DAP diffuser when I was searching for ways to calm Eva during Thunderstorms. I used it continuously for about a month (summer, when we were getting storms every couple days). Unfortunately, I didn't see any change in her, but it didn't cause any harm either.

Just my two cents :)

Katie said...

Steve is currently sporting a collar and I have noticed zero improvement in general anxiety, reactivity, storm phobia, or overall insanity. I've left it on him anyway in case it is helping at some low level that I can't detect.

I've had some really good results with the cat version with cats at work though.

Crystal said...

Aw, I'm sorry this didn't work for either of you. I don't swear by it, but I do use it.

Shandi said...

I recently got a second job and my doberman who has separation anxiety started crying and making a fuss when left alone for longer periods of time then what he was used to.

I changed my routine a bit to allow me to have a bit more time with him between jobs and started spraying the room he is left in with a pheromone spray. Needless to say he's stopped crying and yowling on these long days.

i do believe the spray has helped as i increased the time i spent with him between shifts to 40 minutes. originally id been with him for 30 minutes.