Dog Calming Plugins - Do They Help?
by Dr Vivian Loren on Jul 05, 2023.
As a pet owner, you know that dealing with a stressed or anxious dog can be as heart-wrenching as it is challenging. Although there are a number of dog calming products out there, how do we know what works and what doesn’t? Reviews and mostly trial and error is the best way. Even something that works for our friend’s dog may not always work for ours.
Each dog has its own personality and underlying causes for anxiety and just as humans, each case may need a individualised approach. For this article, let’s take a look at a relatively new dog calming product, the dog calming plug in.
Do dogs calming plug ins work?
Dog calming plug-ins are devices designed to release synthetic canine pheromones into the environment. Let’s emphasise the word “synthetic” as there is no way these plugins can be easily made with natural pheromones. These synthetic pheromones do however mimic the natural ones produced by mother dogs to comfort and reassure their puppies.
When a dog perceives these pheromones, they can help to create a sense of calm and security, alleviating feelings of stress or anxiety. This tends to also work better in younger pups. The response may also depend on their specific stressors and their individual environment.
There haven’t been many studies looking at the effect of synthetic pheromones on dogs behaviour. A 2010 research study performed in Canada exposed hospitalised dogs to dog appeasing pheromones (DAPs) after their owners left. This did show some improvement in separation anxiety, distress and overall levels of fear and stress however the study was only done on a small sample and over a short time period. While these pheromones may work in the short term, no one has really studied them over a longer time frame.
A more recent systematic review from 2021 confirmed that there might be some evidence that dog appeasing pheromones released into the air can have a calming effect on dogs, but the overall strength of evidence was weak.
How to Choose the Right Dog Calming Plug-in
If you do decide to give it a go, there are several factors you should consider. First, the size of the area where the plug-in will be used. Most plug-ins are designed to cover a specific square footage, so make sure to select one that suits your space. The approximate area should be mentioned on the packaging.
If you have multiple dogs, you may need more than one plug-in, or a plug-in that's designed to cover a larger area.
Lastly, consider the specific issues your dog is dealing with. Some brands may offer formulations targeted at certain problems, such as separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, or general nervousness.
What is the best calming plug in for dogs?
We aim to be impartial and therefore cannot recommend specific brands or one brand over the other and we also do not include affiliate links in our posts, as to not create any bias. We believe that by doing so we can maintain a higher amount of trust and authority in the field.
There are however various other websites that may recommend certain brands and you can also read their reviews.
One thing to look out for is that the contents of the infuser substance do not contain any chemicals known to be harmful or carcinogenic.
How to Use a Dog Calming Plug-in
Using a dog calming plug-in is usually straightforward. Here's a simple guide:
- Choose the room where your dog spends most of their time.
- Plug the diffuser into an electric socket. Avoid placing it behind furniture or curtains as this can restrict the airflow and lessen its effects. If you attach it too close to items, there can also be an electrical hazard so give it plenty of space.
- Leave the diffuser plugged in either continuously for the best results or when as if required. For example, you may only need it during a thunderstorm or when you are not at home to help with the separation anxiety.
Remember, these plug-ins are usually quite safe but always keep them out of reach of children.
Limitations and Considerations
While dog calming plug-ins can be highly beneficial, it's crucial to remember that they may not completely resolve serious anxiety or behavior issues on their own. If your dog's symptoms are severe or persistent, it's recommended to consult a professional for a comprehensive treatment approach. You may also want to try a combination of other products such as relaxing music for dogs, or dog calming supplements. Other things you can may include behavior modification, training, or in some cases, dog anxiety medication.
My overall take on dog calming plug ins
Dog calming plug-ins can be an excellent tool for managing stress and promoting calm behavior in dogs. Some people report improvements, while others don’t. They are generally quite safe, but be aware that the pheromones and other substances released in the air are going to be artificial. Ensure that aligns with the rest of your general health strategy. As always, understanding your dog's individual needs is key to choosing the best tools and techniques.