Calming Scents: Therapeutic Pheromones
Canine Health & Wellness • Posted on March 6, 2019

At Pawsitivity, we use diffused calming pheromones in the spa to help our canine clients relax. This is a research-based practice that has been shown to help relieve behavioral symptoms related to stress. So what are these substances, and how do they work?

What is a pheromone?

The dictionary defines a pheromone as “a chemical substance...produced by an animal [that] serves especially as a stimulus to other individuals of the same species.”  Pheromones act like an external hormone that influences behavior in fellow animals. Mammals, insects, and even plants produce pheromones for various social behaviors, including communicating alarm, gathering others of the same species together, signaling a territorial claim, and many more.

What is dog appeasing pheromone?

When a female dog gives birth to puppies, specialized skin glands in her body secrete a compound known as dog appeasing pheromone (DAP) or apasine. She produces this pheromone throughout the time she is nursing her puppies, until a few days after weaning.

Veterinarians believe that puppies can sense DAP through their vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ, located in the nasal cavity above the roof of the mouth. DAP has a calming effect, helps puppies bond with their mother, and can help reduce stress for adult dogs too.

Several companies make a synthetic form of DAP which mimics the compounds in the original, natural substance. DAP is available in collars, sprays, and diffusable liquid to help reduce behaviors related to stress.


How does DAP help dogs?

VetSci lists several common causes of dog anxiety, including loud noises, travelling, separation, kenneling, and veterinarian or groomer visits. Studies have shown that the use of DAP can help ease the symptoms of stress in hospitalized dogs, in puppies during training, and in dogs with separation anxiety.

Here at the spa, our goal is to create the most pleasant and relaxed environment we can for your dog, so we keep DAP on hand to help relieve stress and anxiety. If your dog shows stressed behavior often, you might want to try it out at home too!


(Photo credits: title: James Haworth, top: Nathalie Spehner, bottom: Ruby Schmank)