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Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs

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  • 1 Canine Behaviour Centre, School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the efficacy of the ambient odor of lavender as a treatment for travel-induced excitement in dogs.

Design—Clinical trial.

Animals—32 dogs with a history of travel-induced excitement in owners' cars.

Procedures—Each dog was studied during travel in the owner's car to a familiar walking site during 2 conditions of olfactory stimulation. The first condition was a control condition, during which dogs were exposed to no odor other than that arising naturally from the environment. The second condition was an experimental condition during which dogs were exposed to the ambient odor of lavender. Dogs' behavior was recorded during the car journey for 3 consecutive days under the control condition and for 3 consecutive days under the experimental condition. The percentage of time spent moving, standing, sitting, resting, and vocalizing in each condition of olfactory stimulation was quantified for each dog.

Results—Dogs spent significantly more time resting and sitting and less time moving and vocalizing during the experimental condition. There was no significant relationship between dogs' behavior and sex, castration status, day, or the order of exposure to each olfactory condition.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Traditional treatments for travel-induced excitement in dogs may be time-consuming, expensive, or associated with adverse effects. Aromatherapy in the form of diffused lavender odor may offer a practical alternative treatment for travel-induced excitement in this species.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the efficacy of the ambient odor of lavender as a treatment for travel-induced excitement in dogs.

Design—Clinical trial.

Animals—32 dogs with a history of travel-induced excitement in owners' cars.

Procedures—Each dog was studied during travel in the owner's car to a familiar walking site during 2 conditions of olfactory stimulation. The first condition was a control condition, during which dogs were exposed to no odor other than that arising naturally from the environment. The second condition was an experimental condition during which dogs were exposed to the ambient odor of lavender. Dogs' behavior was recorded during the car journey for 3 consecutive days under the control condition and for 3 consecutive days under the experimental condition. The percentage of time spent moving, standing, sitting, resting, and vocalizing in each condition of olfactory stimulation was quantified for each dog.

Results—Dogs spent significantly more time resting and sitting and less time moving and vocalizing during the experimental condition. There was no significant relationship between dogs' behavior and sex, castration status, day, or the order of exposure to each olfactory condition.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Traditional treatments for travel-induced excitement in dogs may be time-consuming, expensive, or associated with adverse effects. Aromatherapy in the form of diffused lavender odor may offer a practical alternative treatment for travel-induced excitement in this species.

Contributor Notes

The author thanks Professor Noel Sheehy for assistance with facilities.