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Objective—To study the effects of a synthetic, dog-appeasing pheromone (sDAP) on the behavioral, neuroendocrine, immune, and acute-phase perioperative stress responses in dogs undergoing elective orchiectomy or ovariohysterectomy.

Design—Randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Animals—46 dogs housed in animal shelters and undergoing elective orchiectomy or ovariohysterectomy.

Procedures—Intensive care unit cages were sprayed with sDAP solution or sham treated with the carrier used in the solution 20 minutes prior to use. Dogs (n = 24 and 22 in the sDAP and sham treatment exposure groups, respectively) were placed in treated cages for 30 minutes before and after surgery. Indicators of stress (ie, alterations in behavioral, neuroendocrine, immune, and acute-phase responses) were evaluated perioperatively. Behavioral response variables, salivary cortisol concentration, WBC count, and serum concentrations of glucose, prolactin, haptoglobin, and C-reactive protein were analyzed.

Results—Behavioral response variables and serum prolactin concentration were influenced by sDAP exposure. Dogs exposed to sDAP were more likely to have alertness and visual exploration behaviors after surgery than were dogs exposed to sham treatment. Decreases in serum prolactin concentrations in response to perioperative stress were significantly smaller in dogs exposed to sDAP, compared with findings in dogs exposed to the sham treatment. Variables examined to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, immune system, and acute-phase responses were unaffected by treatment.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—sDAP appeared to affect behavioral and neuroendocrine perioperative stress responses by modification of lactotropic axis activity. Use of sDAP in a clinical setting may improve the recovery and welfare of dogs undergoing surgery. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;237:673-681)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association