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Systematic review of the use of pheromones for treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs

Diane Frank DVM, DACVB1, Guy Beauchamp PhD2, and Clara Palestrini DVM, PhD3
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  • 1 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vétérinaire, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, St-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 7C6, Canada.
  • | 2 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vétérinaire, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, St-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 7C6, Canada.
  • | 3 Dipartimento di Scienze Animali, Sez. di Zootecnica Veterinaria, Facoltà di Medicina Veterinaria, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milano, Italy.

Abstract

Objective—To systematically review the scientific literature to identify, assess the quality of, and determine outcomes of studies conducted to evaluate the use of pheromones for treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs.

Design—Systematic review.

Study Population—Reports of prospective studies published from January 1998 through December 2008.

Procedures—The MEDLINE and CAB Abstracts databases were searched with the following key terms: dog OR dogs OR canine OR cat OR cats OR feline AND pheromone OR synthetic pheromone OR facial pheromone OR appeasing pheromone. A date limit was set from 1998 through 2008. Identified reports for dogs (n = 7) and cats (7) were systematically reviewed.

Results—Studies provided insufficient evidence of the effectiveness of feline facial pheromone for management of idiopathic cystitis or calming cats during catheterization and lack of support for reducing stress in hospitalized cats. Only 1 study yielded sufficient evidence that dog-appeasing pheromone reduces fear or anxiety in dogs during training. Six studies yielded insufficient evidence of the effectiveness of dog-appeasing pheromone for treatment of noise phobia (2 reports), travel-related problems, fear or anxiety in the veterinary clinic, and stress- and fear-related behavior in shelter dogs as well as vocalizing and house soiling in recently adopted puppies.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—11 of the 14 reports reviewed provided insufficient evidence and 1 provided lack of support for effectiveness of pheromones for the treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs.

Abstract

Objective—To systematically review the scientific literature to identify, assess the quality of, and determine outcomes of studies conducted to evaluate the use of pheromones for treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs.

Design—Systematic review.

Study Population—Reports of prospective studies published from January 1998 through December 2008.

Procedures—The MEDLINE and CAB Abstracts databases were searched with the following key terms: dog OR dogs OR canine OR cat OR cats OR feline AND pheromone OR synthetic pheromone OR facial pheromone OR appeasing pheromone. A date limit was set from 1998 through 2008. Identified reports for dogs (n = 7) and cats (7) were systematically reviewed.

Results—Studies provided insufficient evidence of the effectiveness of feline facial pheromone for management of idiopathic cystitis or calming cats during catheterization and lack of support for reducing stress in hospitalized cats. Only 1 study yielded sufficient evidence that dog-appeasing pheromone reduces fear or anxiety in dogs during training. Six studies yielded insufficient evidence of the effectiveness of dog-appeasing pheromone for treatment of noise phobia (2 reports), travel-related problems, fear or anxiety in the veterinary clinic, and stress- and fear-related behavior in shelter dogs as well as vocalizing and house soiling in recently adopted puppies.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—11 of the 14 reports reviewed provided insufficient evidence and 1 provided lack of support for effectiveness of pheromones for the treatment of undesirable behavior in cats and dogs.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Palestrini (clara.palestrini@unimi.it).