Calming Pheromones for Cats and Dogs

Written by Small Door's medical experts

Pheromones are natural chemicals released by animals (and people) that help members of the same species to communicate. Pheromone diffusers, sprays, and other products mimic these chemicals to help keep pets calm and relaxed.

In This Article

What are pheromones

Pheromones are odorless, invisible chemical communications produced and given off by dogs, cats, and other animals that affect their behavior within the same species.

How do pheromones work?

Pets release pheromones in response to certain emotions and stimuli. For example, when happy and relaxed, cats will release positive pheromones. When anxious or in danger, they release negative pheromones, akin to a warning signal. Other cats in their vicinity can smell and sense these chemicals!

How do pheromone products work to calm your pet?

Pheromone products simulate the properties of natural, positive pheromones. They release the positive chemicals and can help ease stress and anxiety by reassuring pets in the area. These products come in a range of formats, including diffusers, sprays, wipes, and collars.

For cats, they can help reduce unwanted behaviors, such as urinating outside the litter box, scratching furniture, and over-grooming. They can also help to calm tensions in a multi-cat household.

For dogs, pheromone products can quell mild general anxiety and stress, as well as help to reduce stress due to scary events like storms and fireworks. They imitate dog appeasing pheromones (DAP), which are released by lactating dogs after their puppies are born and before they are weaned.

Pheromone products release positive chemicals that can help ease stress and anxiety by reassuring pets that they are safe.

Do pheromone products work for all pets?

Pheromone diffusers, sprays, or collars do tend to work for the majority of pets, however, some pets are less sensitive to them.

We always recommend using pheromone products in conjunction with other methods, such as positive reinforcement training to modify unwanted behaviors, and environmental changes if required.

For more severely anxious cats or dogs, you should also speak to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety medications.

Are pet pheromone products safe?

Pheromone products mimic natural pheromones produced by dogs and cats. They are not a drug and don’t enter your pet’s bloodstream, so they’re considered very safe and low risk. 

Pheromones work on a species-to-species basis, so cat pheromones will work on cats and dog pheromones will work on dogs. They won’t impact other species or humans.  

What’s the best pheromone brand?

At Small Door, we recommend pheromone diffusers and sprays made by Feliway for cats, as they are a reputable brand with a history of clinical scientific research. Feliway also has product lines geared specifically towards multi-cat households (Feliway MultiCat) as well as cats who exhibit general anxiety (Feliway Classic) or inappropriate scratching behaviors (Feliway FeliScratch).

Cats in particular can benefit from pheromone use at the vet! Whenever your cat comes to see our doctors, we use sprays and diffusers to make the experience as stress free as possible. You might also consider spraying your cat’s carrier with pheromones before bringing them to the vet, to help them stay calm during the journey.

For dogs, we recommend products by Adaptil. They make collars, diffusers, and sprays to help relax your pup.

Summary of how pheromones can help calm your pet

Pheromones diffusers, sprays, collars, and other products can help create a calming and soothing environment for your pets and quell bad or anxious behaviors, especially when used in combination with positive reinforcement training. If you’re unsure if pheromone products are right for your pet, our team of veterinarians are here to help and give you the guidance you need. We also offer behavioral consultations to provide more detailed advice if your pet is suffering from severe anxiety or stress.

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