Studies have shown that a synthetic analog of dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP), which in nature is secreted by bitches during the first few weeks after parturition, is effective in calming adult dogs in a variety of stressful situations. To assess effectiveness in newly adopted puppies, a triple-blind, controlled study was performed. Puppies were randomized into either treatment (n = 32) or control (n = 34) groups. Each treatment-group puppy was fitted with a 35-cm collar containing 2.5% DAP. Control puppies were fitted with identical collars containing no DAP. Owners were contacted by phone 3 and 15 days after adopting the puppies, and data were collected. Results found no significant differences between the 2 groups in terms of characteristics of the puppies and adoptive families. However, a significant difference was noted in nuisance behaviors (eg, vocalizing, scratching at the door, or destructive behavior) between the 2 groups, with fewer puppies in the DAP group behaving in these ways at 3 and 15 days after adoption. The frequency of nuisance behavior at night was also more rapidly reduced in the DAP group. All puppies in the DAP group consistently stopped nuisance activities before the third night, whereas only one third of puppies in the control group stopped spontaneously, on an average of 2 days later than the DAP puppies. It was concluded that DAP helps calm and settle puppies as early as 3 days after adoption.

Studies such as this help add evidence that pheromone therapy works in stressful situations. The owners knew that their puppies were enrolled in a study designed to assess the effectiveness of a DAP collar but were unaware whether the collar on their puppy contained active ingredient or not. Puppies with the DAP collars had significantly fewer signs of distress.

Efficacy of dog-appeasing pheromone in reducing stress associated with social isolation in newly adopted puppies. Gaultier E, Bonnafous L, Vienet-Legue D, et al. VET REC 163:73-80, 2008.