Pheromones for cats and dogs: what are pheromones, how they work and which to choose?
Unusual ways of communication between animals, i.e. a bit about pheromones and their practical use in veterinary medicine.
Pets, which include dogs and cats, do not speak our language, but they can communicate perfectly what they expect from their owners.
Also, the owners who closely observe their charges know very well what they really mean.
Sometimes relying a bit on intuition and sometimes knowing from the experience of living under one roof with another representative of the same species, we have learned to recognize the needs of otherwise weaker and completely dependent pets.
Besides, we gained these abilities during the process of taming and domestication of wild dogs and cats lasting many thousands of years.
In other words, we learned to understand each other.
Today we know very well what the attitudes or behaviors mean and what is expressed by them.
Even a field of science called zoopsychology, whose interest is focused precisely on these issues.
And it is very good because the precise knowledge and understanding of given behaviors is beneficial for humans and allows, in fact, to ensure well-being, i.e. optimal conditions in which the animal will not feel stress and discomfort and will have all its needs satisfied.
And that's what it's all about. By getting to know "the language of animals " expressed in their own characteristic and specific way, we also become closer to them and they feel better in the not always natural for them living environments that they encounter in our homes or apartments.
Remember that it is not only about a full bowl of good food, but also about a sense of security, the right amount of exercise, a quiet place to rest or deal with physiological needs.
Few of the owners of a dog or cat, however, are aware of the various ways of communicating animals, even those that we do not perceive with our own sense organs.
Communication is also made of all methods of a chemical nature, about which we often have no idea.
In the article, I will try to explain this topic a bit using an example pheromones.
- How animals communicate?
- What are pheromones?
- Action of pheromones
- Synthetic pheromones
- How to administer pheromones?
- Aerosol pheromones
- Pheromones in the diffuser
- Pheromone collar for a dog
- When is it worth using pheromones in animals?
- How much are pheromones?
How animals communicate?Means of communication between animals
Animals, although they do not speak with a human voice even on Christmas Eve, are perfectly able to communicate with each other and individuals of other species in a shared environment.
They acquired this extremely important skill over the course of thousands of years during the evolution of species.
It is impossible to live independently, have offspring and not have contact with other individuals and at the same time ensure the survival of the species.
Thus, animals communicate with each other by means of touch, or physical contact.
This form of contact developed especially in herd animals and in the mother-offspring relationship.
It is the closeness of the parent that gives puppies or kittens not only a sense of security, but also guarantees life by ensuring the right temperature or protection against predators.
The presence of a second person that can be touched conveys a very specific amount of information.
In cats, tactile communication consists of behaviors such as rubbing against each other, joint care, i.e. licking, touching noses or resting in one place.
All this helps to build social bonds in the group.
Sight is another sensory organ involved in animal communication.
It is he who receives and registers the very characteristic behavior of other individuals who want to convey something by adopting a specific body posture (e.g. defensive, deterrent or submissive attitude).
The color of another individual also plays a huge role because it can inform that it is not really worth eating me, I am poisonous, harmful.
Visual cues are mainly used to regulate aggressive behavior.
For us people, this is extremely valuable information that we should be able to recognize and react to it properly so as not to walk around with scratched or bitten hands.
Finally, the sounds made by our pets tell us a lot about what a dog or a cat wants to convey to us.
We all know very well how a dog is happy and how a cat that feels threatened.
Growling, snorting can be a warning signal, telling you to stay away and thus avoid direct confrontation that could end up biting and injuring.
We all know very well how a cat or a dog behaves when it asks for food and what sounds it makes.
Also a terrible squeak, barking informs about the impending danger individuals of the same species that are in close proximity to the alarming individual.
By the way, this feature is still used today by owners of guard dogs that guard the property.
Vocal communication is used by animals mainly for the manifestation of sexual behavior, for contacts between mother and young animal and human animal.Animals also use sounds of different frequencies (ultrasounds) and in this way transmit information to each other even at distances. But we humans don't hear them.
Finally, an important way of transmitting information and therefore communicating is also specific smells secreted by animals.
It is thanks to them that dogs or cats know, for example, that in the vicinity there is a female in heat / bitch in heat, ready for fertilization or individuals of the same species (specific smells used to mark the area, signal its presence).
We all know the specific smell of a tomcat that marks objects in the house or in the area that he considers his own.
There are also smells that we, as humans, do not feel, but animals recognize and interpret them very well.
We are talking here about pheromones that is, the mysterious little signals of animal communication.
What are pheromones?
Pheromones, as the popular definition tells us, are various semiochemicals, i.e. substances used by animals to transmit information and thus exert a specific influence on their environment, mainly for defensive purposes, raising an alarm, marking their own territory or signaling sexual readiness to partners of the same species.
Writing very generally, they are an extremely important element of the life of not only a single individual, but also the efficient functioning of entire animal populations.
Pheromones so they are infochemical compounds carrying an important message, a signal for individuals who can read and interpret it and, consequently, react to it appropriately.
They are usually a mixture of different compounds and much less often a single chemical.
Produced by animals natural pheromones are released outside the body, to the environment where they are used for:
- communication (e.g. aggregation pheromones),
- attracting and attracting individuals of the opposite sex of the same species (sex pheromones),
- fighting competition caused by even too many individuals of the same species in a small area (antagonistic pheromones).
Most of these compounds are volatile substances released in really minimal amounts and sometimes felt from a considerable distance.
Interestingly for individuals of a different species (e.g. human) they are completely imperceptible and therefore are not able to cause the same reaction as in animals that are able to perceive them.
Pheromones we can divide into different groups.
Types of pheromones:
- Depending on the induced reaction:
- trigger pheromones, which are responsible for the immediate reaction of the recipient and the resulting change in behavior (e.g. sex or aggregation pheromones),
- basic pheromones, in the case of which the reaction is extended in time and therefore takes longer (e.g. pheromones responsible for sexual maturation).
- By role, its functions:
- alarm pheromones,
- defense pheromones,
- sex pheromones,
- repellants of the same species,
- food discovery pheromones,
- stress pheromones
- social pheromones.
- Due to its chemical form and mode of action:
- with a large protein molecule.
We also distinguish the so-called. pheromones referred to as primers that is, substances that cause a change in the emotional state of an individual.
Let them be a perfect example of this cat's cheek pheromones or dog pheromones reassuring.
Action of pheromonesHow pheromones work?
Pheromones are, as we already know, a means of communication between individuals of the same species.
However, to make it possible, they must be recognized, identified by another organism that will react to them in a strictly defined way.
It is used for this purpose, i.e. for detection, and for the capture of pheromones share-nasal organ forming part of the olfactory apparatus of animals.
We can define this organ as chemoreceptive, an even entity specialized in receiving chemical stimuli.
It is located near the plow bone, inside the nasal cavity.
Pheromones left in the environment when encountered by a sensitive individual, they combine with the special ones pheromone binding proteins (PBP) which are specific to a given pheromone.
Then, specific receptors are activated, which in turn activate nerve structures, groups of neurons within the limbic system.
This evolutionarily old part of the nervous system of mammals influences the emotional state of the animal or triggers, triggers certain physiological reactions, a great example of which is the release of hormones.
Receptors that receive a signal in the form of a pheromone are specific, so they can only be found in a given individual of the same species that is affected by the pheromone.
So we can clearly see how highly specialized and characteristic only for a given species is the system of communication using pheromones.
Synthetic pheromonesSynthetic pheromones
Since natural pheromones they interact so significantly and cause strictly defined reactions in the animal world, including dogs and cats, why not try to learn about their operation, chemical structure in order to create their synthetic equivalents that can be successfully used to modify animal behavior, i.e. in behavioral medicine?
This is what has been done in the case of artificial canine pheromones if artificial feline pheromones synthesized in laboratories and acting identical to their natural counterparts.
Generally speaking, we can say that pheromones have been used for some time to modify unfavorable behavior in dogs or cats.
What I mean here is the kinds of underlying behavior bow and anxiety.
Today, it is common in every veterinary practice that doctors offer their patients preparations containing cat pheromones (Feliway Ceva Sante Animale) or DAP (from the same manufacturer).
Feliway contains a synthetic version as active ingredients feline buccal pheromone F3 and is often used in the therapy of:
- urine marking,
- destroying or scratching various items in the house.
They are also very helpful when introducing cats to new places, which may be associated with stress, anxiety or anxiety.
For cats, a visit to a clinic, hospital, hotel for animals, a new home or a journey in a container can and often evoke negative feelings.
The use of this type of preparation is also helpful in the case of reluctance to eat, because it improves appetite.
It also allows you to participate more actively in joint games or in the development of correct social relations between cats living together.What is extremely important pheromones they can also actively participate in the treatment of underlying diseases caused by stress and anxiety.
This is e.g. in the one I am describing interstitial cystitis or other diseases with concomitant stress.
In some European countries there is a product called Felifriend (Ceva Sante Animale) being the F4 fraction of the feline buccal pheromone.
This product can be successfully used when introducing a new cat to a house where another cat already resides.
Use Felifrienda allows you to befriend cats more easily and without unnecessary problems and to generate a correct reaction to new people living at home.
He writes about it to show you the reader what possibilities we currently have in the field of behavior, where traveling to other countries, from where you can get the product available there, has become something natural.
Feliway Feliscratch is in turn a product containing a synthetic feline pheromone intended for watering the scratching post, we encourage the cat to scratch this place.
During this activity, natural pheromones are released, completely natural for the cat, used to mark its own territory, which information is transmitted to other individuals of the same species.
And although the activity is completely natural, at home, when the cat chooses other items than we set for it, it can be a real problem.
The use of pheromones distracts cats from scratching other places in the apartment, as a result of which furniture, armchairs or other objects are not damaged.
Reduces and reduces scratching of unwanted objects that can occur in a situation of fear and stress, when introducing new animals, or living more animals under one roof and competition for territory.
And finally DAP, i.e. a synthetic, artificially produced version, the analogue of the canine sedative pheromone.
This product can be successfully combined with skilfully conducted behavioral therapy, it can be used in the problems of separation anxiety that often occur in dogs, fear of gunshots, bangs, thunders or when the dog is afraid of firecrackers.DAP it facilitates the introduction of animals to new, unfamiliar stressful living environments.
So it can be used when we want to make the dog's new environment friendlier, i.e. a house, hotel, shelter, clinic or to make transport by car more pleasant.
How to administer pheromones?
Cat's cheek pheromones present in the preparation Feliway is sold as diffuser or aerosol.
The spray version can be used to mark specific places or objects previously marked by a cat with urine or its claws.
Cats mark these places as important from their point of view, thus ensuring a sense of security.
Careful observation of behavior in the home environment will allow the attentive owner to get to know these areas perfectly.
Aerosol pheromonesAerosol pheromones
The manufacturer recommends spraying sensitive places every day for a month, and even in apartments with more cats twice a day for 45 days.
Let's remember about it when using aerosol for the distribution of pheromones be it dog or feline.
Leaving them on a bedding or cage, we should do it about 15 minutes before placing the animal there and then repeat this action every 1-2 hours.
Cats rubbing against objects present in the house leave their characteristic scent signals on them, which gives them peace and a feeling of comfort.
Here's a practical note:
when we often clean the house, we wash the chicken with strong-smelling detergents and fragrances, we also get rid of these natural cat substances and we force the cat to do the work of marking its territory once again.
Spraying with an aerosol is a good idea transporters especially before a planned car trip or a visit to a veterinary clinic, which will reduce the feeling of anxiety.
Pheromones in the diffuser
Another available version of this preparation is diffuser, releasing pheromones into the environment of the cat's life after connecting it to an electrical outlet.
It can be used in closed facilities, apartments, houses where there are more cats and where there is urine marking of furniture or objects.
It is very helpful when the cat moves to a new place and minimizes the feeling of fear and anxiety associated with living in a group.
Diffusers distribute the substances picked up by the cat over the area 50-70 square meters for about a month.
We need to replace the refill later.
In the case of a larger apartment, we should use several of them.
Also, do not open the eyes too much, do not overly ventilate the rooms and do not use air conditioning because all these activities simply remove pheromones from the environment.
We can use the preparation at the same time Feliway in an aerosol and Feliway in the diffuser which will only enhance their final effect.
Calming dog pheromones that is DAP are also available in a spray or diffuser.
The spray can be sprayed around the dog on its lair, bedding, in frequently visited places or in the carrier.
Such action reduces the anxiety associated with introducing animals to a new place, moving or in the presence of a new animal.
Pheromone collar for a dog
We can also purchase DAP in the form of collars, from which pheromones are released for up to a month (28 days).
The advantage of the collar is its operation also outdoors, i.e. even in a walking situation.
The only thing we should remember is not to wet the collar and that our dog constantly wears it, because only then does it really work.
Felifrriend that is, fractions F4 it is used to spray the hands with which we will stroke or touch the cat.
This will reduce aggressive behavior towards strangers and will certainly help form a friendly bond with a stressed cat.
Feliway Feliscratch is a product in the form of a pipette, which is poured over scratchers and objects intended for scratching by cats.
The content of one package should be enough for about a month.What is extremely important from the point of view of the owner and the cat or dog, pheromones, although produced artificially, are substances that are completely safe for animals.
So there is no risk of poisoning them, contraindications or side effects.
They are completely safe, which is worth emphasizing, and can be used in all animals, regardless of their physiological state or age.
They do not interfere with the action of other drugs used in parallel, on the contrary, they complement their action and lead to the expected therapeutic effect.
When is it worth using pheromones in animals?
About the effectiveness of action buccal pheromones let independent animal clinical trials show.
Well, they show that, for example Feliway in the form of a spray reduced surface marking with urine in 75-97% of cases and solved u problem completely 33-95% of cats.
These are just numbers, but it is always worth using therapy instead of assuming in advance that the cat is showing symptoms that eliminate him from living in the apartment and simply getting rid of the cat.
It turned out to be equally effective in marking vertical surfaces, i.e. scratching especially furniture or sofas.
Remember that scratching is a natural behavior of cats and they certainly do not do it out of anger or because they do not like the owner.
Cat pheromones they also limit certain behavior related to behavior, and therefore particularly undesirable vagrancy.
Spraying them on a towel, which is then put into the container, significantly increases the interest in food and proper hygiene.
When traveling by car, when previously sprayed with transport Feliway much less often we observe somatic symptoms with vomiting, urination and defecation, salivation, or vocalization and stimulation.
All this is confirmed by very reliable scientific research and information from the animal owners themselves.
The use of pheromones has also been shown to reduce episodes cystitis, where stress is suspected to be one of the main triggers.
Cat's cheek pheromones fractions F4 proved to be helpful in the prevention of intra-species aggression when introducing new cats to homes where others are already present.Pheromones can help calm an aggressive cat
For this purpose, we can lubricate the head of a new cat with pheromones, which will make it easier and faster to be accepted by other animals residing in the room.
Calming dog pheromones that is DAP they are used to minimize anxiety and facilitate adaptation in a new, hitherto unknown environment.
A common problem in dogs is separation anxiety and the destruction of objects that occurs with it.
A dog left alone in an apartment when its owner has to go to work or shopping feels a great fear and anxiety, which is manifested by destructive behavior or by passing faeces and urine.
Cheek pheromones turn out to be extremely helpful in the comprehensive therapy of this problem, in parallel with other medications.
Many animal owners know how much trouble can be anxiety related to gunshots, a storm or a roar that accompanies them.
And here the pheromones used with desensitization therapy prove to be extremely helpful.
They also provide the phenomenon of relaxation of animals in new unknown conditions, e.g. shelter, clinic or hotel, eliminating very undesirable behaviors such as the desire to escape or excessive vocalization, persistent barking.
The use of pheromones reduces symptoms motion sickness so passing faeces and urine in the car, salivation or vomiting during transport.
Collars turned out to be very effective in the period of adaptation of animals to a new home by eliminating the symptoms of fear and anxiety.
Interestingly, some studies indicate a positive effect of pheromones during the period of dogs attending training.
During the course, animals with collars were more social, they adapted to new conditions faster, and thus obtained better learning results and greater satisfaction from the owner.
What is extremely important, even if they do not completely eliminate the problem, it significantly reduces its nuisance and intensity.
So let's try it in any case.
We should also remember that every disease and pain is related to the phenomenon of stress, hence even in seemingly inadvisable situations pheromones can be used, which will not harm and can only help.
How much are pheromones?
Domestic animals can sometimes cause us a lot of behavioral problems.
Some animal owners certainly know how burdensome the importance of the area with urine, symptoms of separation anxiety, and excessive fear manifested by aggression.
Often, such behavior is also a reason to give up keeping an animal at home.
The use of pheromones can certainly come to the rescue here.
It complements traditional pharmacological therapy combined with behavioral activities.
It is a huge advantage too no side effects or harm to animals or humans.
There is no risk of overdose, misuse or interaction with other preparations used in parallel.
The price is also not excessive, when you calculate it for a single day of use.
Spray pheromones because we can buy for approx several dozen zlotys and the diffuser insert itself for a bit over PLN 100.
The use of increasingly sophisticated pharmacological treatments in pets is in any case met with great resistance and criticism among some pet owners.
Yes, in many situations it is impossible to do without such a thing, but sometimes you can use natural products, without side effects, and at the same time safe and, most importantly, effective.
The issues discussed are a perfect example of this pheromones that is, natural substances used by animals to communicate.
They certainly cannot be a panacea for all diseases, but at the same time they can help many people.
As with any disease, however, first we need to make a diagnosis and only then think about an effective therapy.
Pheromones, however, unlike traditional drugs, certainly will not hurt and the potential benefits of their use make it always worth thinking about them, even as an adjunct treatment.
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