Contents of Article
- Adaptil Reviews: Calming Pheromone Collar
- What is Adaptil and How Does it Work?
- Customer Reviews of Adaptil Collars: Summary
- Our Adaptil Reviews: Which Product is Right for Your Dog?
- Understanding Dog Anxiety: Behavioral Solutions
- Other Natural Dog Products for Treating Dog Anxiety
- Products That Use Aromatherapy for Anxious Dogs
- Conclusion: Does Adaptil Work? Our Review
Adaptil Reviews: Calming Pheromone Collar
If your dog suffers from anxiety, you may have discussed various options for treatment with your vet. In most cases, anxiety can be treated, usually with a combination of behavioral therapies and medications.
Dr. Rosalie Dench | Doctor Of Veterinary Medicine
Rosalie is Wileypup’s Veterinarian Adviser and helped compose this article to ensure the information is up to date and accurate. For more information on Rosalie click here
However, many owners are skeptical about prescription drugs that can leave their dog sedated. The good news is, there are some other options.
This article will review Adaptil, a line of products that includes a diffuser, spray, and a collar. We will take a look at how it works, the science behind this product, as well as an in depth look at each of the product types.
In addition, read on to learn some tips on training dogs with anxiety using positive methods, some suggested resources to learn more, as well as a look at some other natural products that may help your dog with anxiety whether it stems from separation, travel, fear of noises, or fear based aggression.
What is Adaptil and How Does it Work?
Adaptil is a line of products specifically designed to calm dogs that is manufactured by a pharmaceutical company, Ceva, which is headquartered in France but also has offices located in the United States. All of the Adaptil for dogs’ products work based on the same chemical, sometimes referred to as synthetic DAP.
DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) is a pheromone that mother dogs produce while nursing their puppies. It is thought to help calm puppies during nursing. In addition, it is likely that the calming effect of this pheromone is further reinforced by the positive association of it with a very pleasurable experience for puppies: Nursing on momma’s milk!
Of course, the chemical used in Adaptil products is not actually made from momma dogs! In fact, it is a synthetic pheromone designed to mimic the natural pheromone when it is picked up by the vomeronasal organ, a sensitive organ located between the nose and mouth of canines designed to pick up on subtle hormonal signals from other dogs.
There is some scientific research to support the calming effects of DAP in specific contexts, including:
- 2005 Study: Reduction of stress and fear related behaviors in shelter dogs.
- 2003 Study: Significantly reduced fear related behaviors for dogs with fear of fireworks.
- 2005 Study: DAP showed about the same efficacy of the prescription drug clomipramine in the treatment of separation anxiety in dogs.
- 2006 Study: DAP reduced anxiety related behaviors, but not aggression related behaviors, in dogs observed in a veterinary clinic.
- 2010 Study: Showed reduction of separation anxiety related behaviors in dogs hospitalized in a veterinary hospital.
- 2006 Study: Showed some decrease in symptoms of travel related anxiety and nausea in dogs.
- 2008 Study: Showed improvement in positive socialization behaviors among puppies enrolled in puppy classes.
- 2010 Study: DAP may reduce stress at the hormonal and nervous system levels, which may improve recovery outcomes after surgery in dogs.
As you can see, the use of DAP based products such as those in the Adaptil line, is not without scientific support. For many dog owners, these and other studies do suggest that the products in this line are at least worth a try for their canine companions.
It is worth noting, however, that there is no evidence to support the use of these products with dog aggression, and in fact, some of the studies looked at that issue specifically and found no change. However, for travel phobias, fear of loud noises, and separation anxiety, there is evidence to support the use of Adaptil spray, collar, and/or the diffuser.
A Note of Caution
It is important to note that Adaptil products have a warning that suggests the product is dangerous if swallowed. It is important to make sure that your dog or your children in particular do not chew the collar or ingest the spray or diffuser refills.
In addition, other animals, such as birds, may be particularly sensitive to this product, especially if used in the diffuser. Due to their sensitive respiratory systems, the diffuser or spray in particular should either not be used, or used with great care, in households that also have birds as pets.
Customer Reviews of Adaptil Collars: Summary
We scoured hundreds of reviews of this product line on various sites. The average customer rating was 3/5 stars, with little overall difference between the various products in this line. Ratings were mixed with slightly more than half being overall positive, and slightly less than half negative.
- Many owners were surprised how well the product worked. Several cited being skeptical about the product at first, and many reported having their vet recommend the product for their dog’s anxiety issues.
- The most common types of dog anxiety cited in these positive comments left by customers included those using it for excessive barking, fear of loud noises, separation anxiety, travel anxiety, and general anxiety.
- Although many customers report a significant change within a few days, some report the product taking a few weeks to a month to start showing a significant difference in their dog’s anxiety.
- We did not see any alarming reports of any side effects of Adaptil collars or the other products in this line for dogs, however, a small minority of dogs did seem to get a rash from the collar product.
- The most common negative reviews included reports that the product simply did not work for their dog. Many of these same owners also reported that their dog’s anxiety issues were severe.
Our Adaptil Reviews: Which Product is Right for Your Dog?
Adaptil Collar Reviews
This collar is infused with a 5% solution of the DAP pheromone shown by studies to provide calming relief for some dogs. It is designed to last one full month of continuous wear. Because it is worn all the time, it offers a great choice for dogs that show signs of general anxiety.
If you would prefer, you can save the collar for wear during special occasions, such as during a thunderstorm, taking your dog to the vet, or when your dog goes to puppy training classes.
This collar is fully adjustable. Choose between size Small (puppies up to 14.7”) and Large (14” – 24.6”) to make sure you find the right fit for your canine companion.
Note that this collar is NOT waterproof. You should take it off before bathing or swimming and wait until your dog is dry before putting it back on. In addition, the collar is not designed to be used with a leash.
For more collar ideas you might you want to check out these guides:
- Convenient and easy to use
- Provides all-day release of DAP calming pheromone
- Great choice for puppies and recently adopted dogs
- USA manufacturing to human standards.
- Use selectively for trips to the vet, when you know a storm is coming, or before taking a trip in the car
- Fully adjustable
- One full month of use
- Cannot be used with a leash (you will need to have a separate collar for that)
- May not be the best choice if your dog is only anxious in response to known triggers
- Because of prolonged skin contact, this product may cause a rash for some sensitive dogs
- Can be expensive as it must be replaced each month
Adaptil Diffuser Reviews
This calming diffuser for dogs uses a small and discrete plug-in device about the size of a night light. The initial kit is a bit on the pricey side, but it includes both the diffuser and a month supply of the liquid. Refills are reasonably priced and must be replaced monthly.
For best results, position the diffuser closest to where your dog spends the most time. For example, if they are crate trained, it might be a good idea to make sure it is within 20 feet of their crate. It does, however, cover an area of 530-750 square feet.
Again, use caution if you also have pet birds in your home. The manufacturer recommends to not use the diffuser in the same room as birds due to their sensitive respiratory systems.
- Cover a wide area of your home to help your dog feel calm when you are away
- Convenient delivery that can be targeted to areas where your dog spends a lot of time
- Avoids prolonged contact with the skin which can be an issue with the collar for a minority of dogs with very sensitive skin
- Each diffuser is good for up to 5 refills before needing to be replaced
- Can be an issue for people who also have pet birds in the home
- Does not provide support when your dog is away from home or traveling
Adaptil Calming Spray for Dogs Reviews
Finally, we turn to the spray version of the Adaptil Pheromone based calming products for dogs. Perhaps the most adaptable of this line of products, the odorless and colorless spray can be used as needed and in any area that you want to target to help your dog relax.
For example, if you are planning a trip, simply spray the area where your dog will be in the car about 10 minutes before your ride. Planning on leaving your dog at the hotel while on vacation? Bring the spray along to put on bedding. It may also be helpful for crate training your dog and getting them used to feeling safe and secure in their crate.
Since the spray is used as needed, it is probably the most economical way to make use of the calming DAP pheromone found in Adaptil. That being said, do not spray this product directly on your dog or in a confined space while they are still in it.
- Use as needed and where needed for a targeted calming effect
- Odorless and colorless
- Safe for use on fabrics, including car upholstery
- Economical option for those with dogs that have targeted anxiety such as fear of travel or fear of loud noises
- Does not provide all day relief
- Not a good option to take advantage of the dog socialization benefits, such as calming puppies during their training classes with other dogs
Understanding Dog Anxiety: Behavioral Solutions
Dog anxiety is a complex behavioral issue that benefits from sound behavioral and training solutions. Rather than looking for that magic bullet in any product (pharmaceutical medications, natural products to reduce anxiety, or products such as Adaptil), it is important that you do some research on the specific issues your pet is having to learn how to work with them to help them overcome their fears.
Resources to Learn More About Specific Dog Anxiety Issues
Here at WileyPup, we want to be sure that you have all of the resources you need to help your dog with all of the tools at your disposal. This includes safe and reliable products but also educational resources that can help you learn more about how animal behaviorists treat anxiety conditions in dogs.
Below are some links to great books that will teach you the ins and outs of positive based training techniques used by professional dog trainers for specific issues:
Links to Great Books
- General Anxiety and Fearfulness: From Fearful to Fear Free by Marty Becker, DVM
- Separation Anxiety: I’ll Be Home Soon by Patricia McConnell, PhD
- Phobias (fear of loud noises, car rides, strangers, etc.): Help for Your Fearful Dog by Nicole Wilde
- Dog Aggression: Fight! by Jean Donaldson
- Resource Guarding: Mine! By Jean Donaldson
Finally, if you have heard about so-called “positive training methods” and are not sure about why so many professional dog trainers are using these methods over the old-school and outdated “dominance” training methods, then you may find this book (Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson) to be very informative.
Jean Donaldson explains the revolution in dog training over the last 50 years and why dominance models are ineffective, inhumane, and simply ill-informed given what we know about dog learning from decades of scientific research on animal behavior.
Hire a Professional Trainer
If you find that your efforts to help your dog overcome her fears and anxieties are not getting results, then you may need to find some help from a professional dog trainer to help you identify both the triggers as well as a sound training program.
Look for a trainer who has experience working with the exact issue your dog is struggling with, ask for and check with references provided, and only hire a trainer who uses positive training methods based on reward rather than punishment.
Other Natural Dog Products for Treating Dog Anxiety
As discussed above, Adaptil products work using a synthetic pheromone designed to mimic the hormones released when a mother dog is nursing. However, you may be interested to know that some other odors from natural essential oils have been shown to have some calming effects on anxious dogs.
Although the research on aromatherapy on dogs specifically is sparse, there are a few that our readers may be interested in:
Research on Aromatherapy on Dogs
- 2012 Study: Mint and Ginger essential oils are shown to prevent nausea for dogs during travel.
- 2018 Study: Lavender oil shows calming effect on cats while hospitalized.
- 2009 Study: Topically applied lavender essential oil lowered the nervous system anxiety response in dogs.
- 2004 Study: Dogs in a rescue shelter context were studied and behavior was observed relative to exposure to four aromas from essential oils. Lavender and Chamomile reduced anxious behaviors, while peppermint and rosemary increased them.
Products That Use Aromatherapy for Anxious Dogs
If you would like to give aromatherapy for your stressed or fearful dog a try, here are a few well made products to check out:
With both lavender and chamomile essential oils, this spray can be used in the car, your dog’s crate, or even directly on their coat to promote calmness. It is all natural and paraben free with aloe vera and lanolin to promote a healthy and shiny coat.
In addition to lavender essential oil, this natural formula includes essence from bergamot ad Pelargonium Graveolens (a wild type of geranium). With a delightful smell, this spray is great for your dog’s bed linens or for use in the car.
With lavender, chamomile and Egyptian geranium oils, this natural product is recommended by veterinarians. It is especially useful for dogs with phobias with predictable triggers such as fear of thunderstorms, trips to the vet, car rides, etc.
CBD Oil for Dogs
A growing body of research suggests that CBD oil for dogs may have powerful anti-anxiety properties. Although most studies have been done using lab animals and humans, many vets and pet owners alike have experienced positive results for their canine companions who struggle with anxiety issues such as separation anxiety, fear of thunderstorms, loud noises, car rides and even fear based aggression issues.
Want to learn more? You can view our comprehensive and research backed review of CBD oil for your dog here.
Conclusion: Does Adaptil Work? Our Review
Adaptil Spray, Collar, and Diffuser can work for some dogs, but it won’t work for every dog. Given that anxiety issues in dogs can create major problems for their owners, and in some cases result in rehoming, we think there is enough evidence to support that the Adaptil line of products is worth a try in most cases.
However, be sure to also investigate behavioral solutions, such as positive training methods, to make sure you are doing all you can to help your pet overcome her fears and phobias. In addition, we have recommended some natural products based on essential oils that also have some scientific support for their anti-anxiety properties in dogs. They too are worth a try if you are looking for a solution for your canine’s anxiety problems.
Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) – Professional Dog Trainer
Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.For more info on Sharon click here