18th October 2002
NEW HOPE FOR DOGS WHICH FEAR FIREWORKS NIGHT
New research at the University of Lincoln has shown that a synthetic version of naturally produced chemicals may offer relief to thousands of dogs during the firework season.
“While we enjoy Bonfire Night, spare a thought for those animals who find this a miserable time of year, petrified by the unpredictable bangs,” says Daniel Mills, principal lecturer in Behavioural Studies and Animal Welfare at the University of Lincoln.
“Many owners resort to seeking drugs for their pets in order to help them cope, but now there is a new simpler solution – if dog owners act quickly.”
Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP, Ceva Animal Health) is a synthetic version of chemicals produced by the bitch shortly after whelping which helps to reassure newborn pups.
Recent research by scientists at Lincoln has shown that DAP may help to control a wide range of stress-related conditions including firework phobias.
DAP is available as a simple plug-in diffuser from most veterinary practices. In many cases the diffuser negates the need for drug treatment, although combination therapy can be used in some cases.
“Unlike drugs, the diffuser does not sedate the animal and make it sleepy, but allows it to continue about its daily business,” says Mr Mills. “Another advantage of the DAP diffuser treatment 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.”
The research, which is soon to be published in The Veterinary Record, reveals that in a study of 30 dogs that showed signs of fear in response to the sight and sound of fireworks last year, there was generally a 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.
The DAP was used at least two weeks in advance of the main firework events, and this may be critical to creating an effective chemical barrier against the anxiety caused by the onset of fireworks.
“Our interpretation of why this pheromone therapy works is based on the release of a chemical signal that makes things appear familiar,” says Mr Mills. “In many animals it is uncertainty or novelty that triggers the signs of anxiety and stress which are so distressing. If that uncertainty can be removed then the stress will cease to exist.
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University of Lincoln (tel: 01522 886042) email: firstname.lastname@example.org