Multi-pet people, behaviorists and trainers are always looking for information on new ways to help dogs and cats get along better. A recent study showing that pheromones can be useful tools is encouraging.
Many dogs and cats get along well, either ignoring each other kindly or acting like close friends. They often live together with relative ease, despite different communication signals and the problem that some dogs view cats as prey. However, if the relationship is strained, it can cause deep distress for household members of all types and even result in the surrender of one or more pets.
The new study, which was conducted in the UK and reported in July, is the first to examine the effectiveness of two pheromones in improving the behavior and relationship between dogs and cats sharing a household. The participating families were recruited through social media, online groups, and veterinary posters. The dogs and cats involved in the study were all “in homes where the owners saw the potential for improving the relationship between their cat and dog”.
The researchers studied how pheromones in diffusers affect the behavior of dogs and cats in their home environment. The most important result was that both products had a positive influence on the interactions between the species as well as on their individual behavior. The report is very encouraging about the possibility of using these pheromones to help dogs and cats who are not getting along as well as they could.
It is believed that pheromones alter the emotional processing of animals, especially when conditions are stressful. They are believed to work differently than drugs that reduce anxiety. In this parallel randomized study, two pheromones were tested – one for dogs and one for cats. Each house was randomly assigned one of the pheromones that was provided in an unlabeled diffuser by someone unrelated to the study. Neither the participants nor the researchers knew which pheromone was used in a household.
During the six weeks of the study, significant decreases in a number of undesirable behaviors were reported: the dog barked at the cat, the dog and cat stared at each other, the dog chased the cat, and the cat ran away, and the cat hid from the dog . Households using a cat pheromone diffuser saw their cats become more relaxed, while households using a dog pheromone diffuser saw an increase in canine relaxation, as well as an increase in kind regards and the time that both the cat and dog took spent in the same room. It is possible that the greater improvements in dog pheromones reflected a cascade of effects resulting from the increased relaxation of the dogs.
The two pheromones weren’t tried together, but that would be the next logical step in research, as would testing each of the products against a placebo, a diffuser that contains no product at all.
In addition to the data collected during this study, the feedback from participants suggests very favorable experiences with the pheromone diffusers. Several people made comments indicating that it had a positive impact on the interactions between their dogs and cats: “Hunting less and playing more gently.” “My dog was his usual annoying self. But the cats were much more relaxed with each other and with him. ” “I have seen [the cat and dog] touch your nose a couple of times which is definitely a new thing. “” The whole household was happier. “
How do your dog and cat get along? Would you use a pheromone product to improve their interactions?