Ever wondered how ants can wander all over the garden (or your kitchen!) but still find their way home? They follow the pheromones! Pheromones are chemicals that animals release to relay a message — a non-verbal form of communication. Ants leave long trails of them as they move, marking the way to and fro for other ants to follow.
Pheromones have been identified in all mammals, and while you may have heard of them in the context of human attraction, there are many different types. From those sent as a warning alarm to those that make snuggling a newborn baby even sweeter, these chemical messages guide many mammalian actions — including those of our furry friends. In pets and people alike, familiar scents can help calm fears and ease anxiety. That’s why some pet-specific pheromones are now being prescribed to help treat four-legged friends.
cheek to cheek
Feline facial pheromone originates in a cat’s cheek glands, and it is left on surfaces in your cat’s environment when he rubs his face on them. When your cat rubs his face against the door jamb — or even your leg! — he is marking a “known” place or thing, which in turn decreases his anxiety. Feline facial pheromone is particularly useful in cases of spraying or inappropriate elimination, which is often caused by anxiety. But it can help in many anxiety-inducing situations, from helping cats adjust to a changing environment (such as moving to a new house) to calming cats during travel or making them feel more at home if they have to be hospitalized.
Appeasing pheromone is produced by all mammals. It is excreted from glands between the mammary glands in females and is meant to have a calming, reassuring effect on offspring. Dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) has been used to help soothe behavior problems such as separation anxiety and noise phobias, but it also helps our canine friends in a variety of other situations. Whether you seek to make a new puppy’s transition to your home easier or you want to calm your confused geriatric dog, pheromone therapy can help.
Synthetically made equivalents of these pheromones are available as collars (for dogs), sprays or plug-in diffusers, and are often used in conjunction with behavior modification and medications for pets who have anxiety. In some cases, pheromone therapy alone is sufficient to curb behavior problems that have anxiety as an underlying cause. Because the pheromones are inhaled rather than absorbed in the pet’s body, there are no worries regarding toxicity. While it is hard to imagine that our pets have a care in the world, the unfortunate truth is that many are just as anxious as we are in some situations. Pheromones may not alleviate their every concern, but they go a long way toward providing comfort to your four-legged babies