Appeasing pheromones

Pheromones are best described as chemicals released by the surface of an animal’s body into the surrounding environment and are picked up by other individuals (normally of the same species) in which they bring about a reliable change in the expression or development of behaviour. Appeasing pheromones are now used to correct behavioural problems in pets.

As companion animals are coming closer to humans, and today are part of the human family, the need and curiosity to understand them is also increasing. Humans are learning to understand their needs both physically and emotionally.A word on behavioural problems in pets Some of the common problems of dogs include house training problems, chewing, biting, tug-of-war, growling over food, digging, jumping, chasing cars, submissive urination, eating feces etc. This behaviour seems abnormal and disturbing to us but they are perfectly justified in behaving that way because they might only just be reacting to one or the other stimuli.

Is there a way out?

The behaviour management for pets takes advantage of the nature’s own gift of “pheromones,” which are the chemicals released by the surface of an animal’s body into the surrounding environment and are picked up by other individuals (normally of the same species) in which they bring about a reliable change in the expression or development of behaviour.

The term pheromone (from Greek “pheros” meaning far and “horman” meaning to excite) was used to describe these chemicals emitted in a very small amount from a distance to elicit a precise behaviour in the animals of the same species. Chemical communication can also involve kairomones and allomones and odors or scents that allow inter-specific, inter-order and sometimes inter-kingdom (e.g., between plants and insects) communication. In mammals, pheromones have been supposed for a long time to be very active in sexual communication between animals.

The effects

The behaviour of the puppy who is most comfortable cuddling and cushing besides her mother is known to be initiated by the release of specific pheromones by the mother’s skin and even the placenta of the puppy. The appeasing effects of these specific pheromones have been observed in other animals, including pigs, calves, foals etc and in all species, the pheromones are known to cause a marked calming effect on the animals.

Pheromone products currently available in the market are not the natural compounds isolated from animals. Instead, they are synthetic analogues of the actual pheromones which are structurally much simpler but have remarkably similar effects. These synthetic analogues of pheromones have been proven to have remarkable effects on the behavioral vices of pets and also help in reducing stresses of different origin in animals. The usage of these products demands precision adherence to manufacturer’s guidelines and the products are available as plug in diffusers and sprays.

A new tool

The veterinarian, pet owners and animal breeders now have a new option to handle behavioral situations in the form of Appeasing Pheromones. Appeasing pheromones, as the name suggests, will perhaps go a long way in ensuring freedom from common vices related to fear and stress in pets. It also shows a lot of promises in the field of animal welfare, where reduction of stress would be the main aim of the pet animals, who can also experience an appeasing smile once the product shows its effects.

(Dr. Mrinal Kumar Sharma is Manager – Technical Services at Vetnex, RFCL Ltd.)

– by Dr Mrinal Kumar Sharma
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