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Synthetic pheromone may ease
firework suffering for dogs


A SYNTHETIC version of naturally-produced canine chemicals may offer relief to thousands of dogs suffering from fright and stress caused by fireworks at this time of year.

Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) is a synthetic version of chemicals produced by a bitch shortly after whelping, which helps to reassure and calm newborn puppies.

Recent research by scientists at the University of Lincoln has shown that DAP may help to control a wide range of stress-related conditions including firework phobias and general fear of loud noises.

“Unlike drugs, DAP does not sedate the animal and make it sleepy but allows it to continue about its daily business,” said Daniel Mills, principal lecturer in behavioural studies and animal welfare at the university.

“Another advantage is that a single unit may run through the whole season and potentially help in the case of those unexpected occasions, when drugs may not have been administered.”

Fear

The research, published in The Veterinary Record, reveals that in a study of 30 dogs who showed signs of fear in response to the sight and sound of fireworks last year, there was a general reduction in the severity of their problem compared to previous years, following the continuous use of the DAP in the home when combined with traditional therapies.

“Our interpretation of why this pheromone therapy works is based on the release of a chemical signal which makes things appear familiar," Mr Mills said. “In many animals it is uncertainty or novelty which triggers the signs of anxiety and stress which are so distressing. If that uncertainty can be removed then the stress will cease to exist.”

DAP is available as a plug-in diffuser from most vets, although prices for this may vary. In many cases, using the diffuser has negated the need for drug treatment.