D.A.P. is an acronym for ‘dog-appeasing pheromone’. The chemical is synthesized naturally by momma dogs when nursing puppies, and it provides a feeling of security and well-being. Adaptil is a synthetic version of the pheromone produced by dogs. The liquid is colourless and odourless, and will not stain items that are sprayed. Pheromones are species-specific and can not be detected by other animals. Adaptil also produces a cat version called Feliway.
The product is available in three different formats: a collar, a room diffuser and a spray. The collar needs to be fitted by a knowledgeable professional to work correctly, and it is ruined if it gets wet. The diffuser can be useful for continuous calming when a new dog is introduced into a home, in a hotel room when traveling, or for dogs with generalized anxiety or separation anxiety. The diffuser provides continuous dispersal for 30 days, then the vial must be replaced. Effectiveness of the diffuser diminishes in rooms larger than 500 square feet. The spray is the most adaptable format, but it wears off in 2-4 hours. It’s handy to spray in the car for dogs who are nervous riding, on a bandana worn around the neck during a vet visit, or sprayed on a dog bed when visitors are expected and Fido may be anxious around guests. The spray is well-suited to dogs who need situation-specific calming, like during thunderstorms or fireworks. The spray is dissolved in an alcohol base and it must dry for 10 minutes before introducing the item to a dog, as the scent of alcohol is extremely irritating to dogs. Do NOT spray D.A.P. directly on a dog!
As with all calming tools, D.A.P. is not likely to permanently change a dog’s anxiety on its own without behaviour modification, but it is a great adjunct to use in tandem with training or for dogs with mild anxiety in specific situations. Adaptil products are available without prescription in most veterinary offices, though you should discuss use with your health care provider to ensure appropriate and accurate use. The Pet Gear Store sells a mini-spray that is a terrific size to tuck into your purse.