Hello friends! Lately I’ve been talking to a number of people about anxiety in their furkids.
Anxiety is a pervasive problem that can range from mild and situational to severe and generalized. Anxiety can trigger health problems, destroys focus, and degrades learning abilities. It can also promote undesirable behaviors like urine marking, excessive vocalization, destructive or stereotypic behaviors.
While there are many ways I treat anxiety naturally, from lifestyle modification to prescription Chinese herbals, one of the easiest and most straightforward is pheromone therapy. Now, its effectiveness depends on the anxiety trigger and other factors, but it is easy to try and doesn’t require a prescription to give it a shot.
Pheromone products are available for cats, dogs, and even horses! Let’s have a look at some of the best products on the market.
Pheromones are inhaled chemical signals that all of our bodies produce. They carry different messages and affect the brain directly. Most of us are familiar with pheromones in relation to finding an attractive mate. Pheromones can also carry messages to be worried if an individual in the group is stressed and needs to communicate that there is a problem everyone should know about, and they can also communicate that life is fine and everyone should relax. Obviously in treating anxiety we’re interested in the last group of pheromones.
We’ll start with dogs since they’ve been the focus of most of my conversations lately. The product I recommend for dogs is Adaptil. Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromone lactating mother dogs give off. The message of this pheromone is one of calming and peace. It helps puppies feel secure in any environment where mom is with them, and it helps all the puppies get along while they’re in close quarters nursing.
This product is really excellent for dogs who have situational anxiety like anxiety on car rides, or who have conflicts with other dogs either in their household or outside of it. While I really like the ease of the plug in product (just plug it in an outlet near where your dogs spends a lot of time and you’re covered for a month), dogs go a lot of places. If your dog is a dog about town, you might find the collar more helpful. The collar is a plastic collar reminiscent of flea collars. The pheromones are impregnated into the collar and body heat helps to release them. They also last for about a month, but provide pheromones everywhere your dog goes.
While it doesn’t happen all the time, I have definitely seen this product make a huge difference for some patients.
Cats are special little guys who use pheromones for communication a lot. Because of this, cats get two pheromone products that are very targeted and approach slightly different problems.
I also recommend feline pheromone products the most of everything mentioned here. The a large number of cat health problems are stress related or have the potential to be stress triggered. Feliway products can help to reduce the severity or flare ups of these particular diseases even if your furkids seem well adjusted in every other way.
The original Feliway feline pheromone product was made to mimic the scent marking that a calm cat leaves by rubbing their cheeks, chin, or the top of their head on things or individuals in their environment. We have sometimes equated this with ownership marking, which is not exactly right. It is a territorial marking, but not the kind of sign post that says get off my lawn like urine marking does. Facial marking is a way for cats to be able to quickly remind themselves of safe locations and individuals. It does mark a home territory, but in the way that your personal style and decor helps you really feel comfortable and safe at home.
This particular pheromone product, available as a plug in, spray, and a wipe, works well for cats with general anxiety and stranger danger. It can help reduce urine marking as cats do not urine mark where they facial mark. Because of this, be careful not to put it close to a litter box as you might discourage them from using the box.
This is also an excellent option for helping cats be more comfortable with their carriers for travel (use the spray or wipe in the carrier 15-20 minutes before trying to put them in) or to help them transition to new homes. I don’t use Feliway all the time for my cats, but I definitely make sure to use a plug in or spray the corners of door frames, etc around cat face height when I move to a new home.
Recently Feliway realized that, like Adaptil, they could use a lactating cat pheromone to help with other kinds of anxiety and they came out with Feliway Multicat. Like Adaptil, this is the pheromone that cat moms use to help the kittens all get along while they’re nursing.
This product is only available as a plug in, and is much more focused for households that have “intercat” aggression or conflict problems. If you have multiple cats who don’t really enjoy being roommates, or if your cat is seeing a neighbor cat outside and being disturbed, this is a better choice for you.
If you have both roommate arguments happening and someone who just has general anxiety about life, you can definitely use both products. Keep the regular Feliway in a room where the generally anxious kids hang out most, and the Multicat in areas where most conflicts happen. If this is the same room, that’s fine. They don’t cancel each other out, you just might run out of outlets!
I have been in love with Adaptil and Feliway for so long I often lamented that there wasn’t a similar product for horses. Well, someone at the company must have been thinking the same thing, because they came out with a horse product as well!
I have less personal experience with ConfidenceEQ than I have with the other products, but it is similar to Adaptil. It is made to mimic the pheromone that lactating mares give off to help their foals feel safe and secure whenever they are close to mom.
Because horses don’t generally live in closed in rooms with power outlets, and they’re a little big for collars, this product is a topical gel. The gel is applied to the inside of the nostril 30 minutes before the anticipated anxiety trigger and it works for a total of 2.5 hours. It’s clearly not a sustainable solution for chronic anxiety, but can be really helpful for situational anxiety such as anxiety associated with trailering, showing, or training. It can even be helpful to use during the initial few sessions when new pasture mates are being introduced to each other.
As always, if you have questions email me! I love blogging, especially when I know it’s answering my tribe’s questions.
Liked reading this? Want more of the same? Subscribe to the newsletter and get a bonus video on your pet’s constitution as well!