Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP®, Canine Appeasing Pheromone, Apaisine )
Overview of Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP®)
Dog appeasing pheromone, commonly known as DAP® or Comfort Zone®, is used to treat separation anxiety, neophobia, noise phobia, and fear of transportation.
French veterinarian, Dr. Patrick Pageat, reported identifying a pheromone that caused newborns to form an attachment to their dams when working with pigs and goats. He took samples of the fatty secretions from the skin over the mammary glands, analyzed its content by mass spectrometry, and found various peaks indicating chemical components of the secretion. One of these peaks represented a chemical, later dubbed apaisine, that Pageat believed might be the pheromone responsible for filial bonding. Subsequently, Pageat conducted trials with this chemical that he thought demonstrated apaisine’s efficacy.
Pageat’s conclusions are puzzling, however, as bonding between goats and their kids has been shown to result from release of oxytocin in the dam in response to her smelling the kid within 2 to 3 hours of its birth. Kids, on the other hand, are relatively indiscriminate and will nurse on any accepting dam. Apparently, bitches secrete apaisine, too.
Pageat believes that the attractant induces feelings of well-being in the neonate, and that the pheromone has some sort of placating (appeasing) effect. He also postulated that the olfactory memory might persist into adulthood and might help calm stressed adult dogs. He thought it might be effective as a treatment for dogs affected with conditions like separation anxiety, thunderstorm phobia, other noise phobias, and situational fears.
It is difficult to determine what DAP® actually is chemically because the distributor keeps the trade secret under tight wraps and there are no publications stating its composition. It seems likely, though, that it is a fatty acid, or fatty acid combination, similar to Pageat’s feline appeasing pheromone, which is the F3 fraction of oleic acid. Fractions of oleic acid found in the oily secretions from the cheek glands of cats and have been marketed as Feliway® by Ceva Sante Animale.
Further investigation of this product is needed to provide more scientific evidence of its efficacy. Most of the data about apaisine’s effectiveness is authored by the discoverer, Dr. Pageat and his colleague Dr. Gaultier, who have a vested interest in the product. Claims for DAP’s efficacy abound in commercial literature but no unequivocal scientific studies have been conducted with this product. Properly conducted independent studies are needed before apaisine can be scientifically accepted as a reliable therapeutic entity.
As an over-the-counter product, it does not require licensure from the FDA.
Brand Names and Other Names of DAP®
This product is available for use in dogs only.
Human formulations: None
Veterinary formulations: DAP® Dog Appeasing Pheromone (Ceva Sante Animale), Comfort Zone® (Veterinary Product Labs)
Uses of DAP® for Dogs
DAP® supposedly has been recommended in the treatment of separation anxiety, neophobia (fear of new things or unfamiliar people/animals in the environment) and other fears and phobias (e.g. storm phobia, noise phobia).
It has also been recommended in the alleviation of the fear of transportation or boarding, excessive vocalization (barking and whining) or excessive licking.
DAP® has been used to try to calm dogs during veterinary visits and help treat house soiling.
Precautions and Side Effects
The vaporization of fatty acids is not without risk. Palmitic acid, for example, is irritant of the skin, eyes, and respiratory mucosa. Oleic acid (a.k.a 9-Octadecenoic acid, (Z) -) is listed as a tumorigen, mutagen, and primary irritant by NIOSH. Intraveneous (IV) oleic acid causes lung injury in dogs.
No safety data is available for DAP®, though in an Internet communication with the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior, Pageat cautioned not to position the diffuser too close to pet birds.
There are no known drug interactions. DAP is not actually a drug.
How DAP® is Supplied
DAP® is supplied as an “easy to use” plug-in diffuser that consists of an electrical plug-in unit and a disposable repository that contains the active ingredient in solution. The solution reportedly contains 2% DAP in 100g of “other components” (probably mineral oil).
Dosing Information of DAP® for Dogs
The plug-in diffuser continuously releases apaisine into the environment. Each plug-in is said to be capable of infusing a 650-square-foot area and will last 4 weeks (according to the manufacturer).
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