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Using Synthetic Pheromones to Help Calm Your Pet: Feliway and Adaptil

You may have noticed something new at Kitsap Veterinary Hospital: We are now using synthetic pheromones to help your pet have a more relaxed visit with us! We recognize that a trip to the veterinarian is not every pet’s favorite thing. It is normal for new situations to trigger a stress response in dogs and cats. But your pet’s overall well-being is very important to us, so we have taken a few steps to make each visit as positive as we can.

What are pheromones, anyway?
Pheromones are chemical factors that are secreted naturally to trigger a social response in a member of the same species. These factors are capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of those who come in contact with it. Dogs and cats secrete pheromones to “communicate” calming messages to one another.

So, how do synthetic pheromones work?
Synthetic pheromones have been created to mimic the natural factors secreted by dogs and cats. Feliway is similar to a cat’s facial pheromone, and is used to foster comfort and confidence through familiarity. Cats recognize the substance when they breathe it in and interpret the message as one of relaxation. In studies of cats exposed to Feliway, there was a noticeable reduction in behaviors caused by stress.

In a similar way, Adaptil communicates a calming message to dogs. It is a copy of the pheromone the mother dog emits after giving birth. This pheromone is recognized by dogs of all ages and has been clinically proven to reduce signs of stress.

How are Feliway and Adaptil being used at Kitsap Veterinary Hospital? 
Kitsap Veterinary Hospital is now utilizing Feliway and Adaptil to help your pet have a less stressful visit with us. For your cat, we provide a towel treated with Feliway as soon as you enter the lobby. This towel can be draped over your cat’s carrier while you wait to enter the exam room. The Feliway-treated towel will travel with your cat during his or her entire experience here. It will be used as a mat on the exam room table, and it will even snuggle your cat if there is need to perform procedures such as a blood draw or nail trim.

Adaptil is available on pre-treated bandanas for your dog to wear during your time here. It can be applied loosely around your dog’s neck the moment you enter our lobby. He or she will then be exposed to the calming message during the doctor’s examination and any needed treatments.

For surgical and hospitalized patients who need to stay with us a little longer, we provide “Snuggle Buddies”. These are soft, stuffed blanket animals that are treated with the synthetic pheromone appropriate for your pet’s species. A Snuggle Buddy will accompany your dog or cat through all phases of their time with us.

Can I use synthetic pheromones at home? Both Feliway and Adaptil are available for home use as well. They can be used in a diffuser to help distribute the calming effect into the environment. This can help pets who show signs of stress for a variety of reasons. The synthetic pheromones also come in a spray that you can use in a kennel or pet bed. This is particularly helpful for travel. Adaptil can also be used in a collar form for your dog to wear at all times. This is useful for dogs who are nervous outside the home, as the substance goes everywhere with them.

As with anything new, please ask your veterinarian for advice in using synthetic pheromones with your pet. We would be pleased to discuss it with you and help to guide you as to what is the best approach for your particular situation.