Author: Dr. Clarissa G. Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS
Behavioral problems in pets can be frustrating and even seem overwhelming at times. Even more, they can impact the human-animal bond, or even lead to surrender of a pet.
Of course, it’s always an excellent idea to talk with your vet when behavioral problems develop in your pet. Between performing a thorough physical exam and obtaining a detailed medical history about how things have been at home, your vet can work with you to provide suggestions and solutions based on your pet’s particular needs. Sometimes we find that the behavior is related to an underlying medical condition, so it’s always good to rule out medical problems before implementing a behavior plan.
A behavior plan will typically include behavioral training, and it may also involve prescription medications. Additionally, a variety of non–prescription behavior tools and products are readily available that may be helpful. Curious to know what non-prescription behavior products are available for pets? We have pulled together a list of some of the more common products below.
If you have a concern about your pet’s behavior or feel like he or she may benefit from a behavior product, then schedule a time to talk with one of our veterinarians. Our goal is to find ways to help pets be healthy, calm, social, and happy. Sometimes these behavior products can help address an ongoing concern, but they can also be used as additional help for animals going through transition times (e.g. new adoption, moving to a new home, adjusting to a new pet or new family member, being calm with visitors, etc.).
- Feliway: This is a synthetic pheromone meant to calm cats and help them feel more comfortable by mimicking natural feline pheromones. It has been used to help avoid urine spraying, scratching, anxiety, fighting, and hiding. There are a variety of Feliway product types available (diffuser, spray, scratch deterrent, etc.)
- Adaptil: This is a synthetic pheromone meant to calm dogs and help them feel more comfortable and relaxed by mimicking natural canine pheromones. It comes in a diffuser and in collar form.
- Thundershirt: Shirts such as the Thundershirt can be used in dogs and cats to apply a gentle pressure (similar to swaddling a baby) that can help calm them down in a variety of anxiety-inducing settings (thunderstorms, loud noises, unfamiliar environments, etc.)
- Purina Veterinary Calming Care Canine Probiotic Supplement: This is a newer addition to our tools for anxious pets. According to Purina’s website, the product is a probiotic strain that has been show to help dogs stay calm. It helps dogs cope with separation, new visitors, novel sounds, and changes in routine/ location. It is also reported to help promote a positive emotional state in dogs.
- Pet Anxiety Supplements: There are a variety of non-prescription anxiety supplements available for both dogs and cats. Products such as the Composure line of products by Vetriscience contain ingredients like L-theanine, an amino acid naturally found in green tea leaves. Other products may contain ingredients such as melatonin.
- Got Cats that Scratch? Keep in mind this is a ‘normal’ behavior. So, although it falls under the classification of an ‘undesirable behavior’ to many pet owners, it’s not a behavior that we want to make go away. Instead, we need to provide appropriate scratching substrates like scratching posts and cardboard scratchers. Additionally, products like Soft Paws may be tolerated by the cat which can prevent them from causing damage to items in the home.
- Cat Attract: This is an additive for litter (and it also comes in a litter already formulated with the additive) that has a scent that is meant to naturally attract cats back to the litter box.
- Urine Enzymatic Cleaners: You may be wondering how urine cleaner can fall into the behavior product category. Well, for pets that urinate inappropriately, white it is incredibly important to clean up the urine, owners also need to use a product that can enzymatically break down the remaining urine scent. These enzymatic cleaners are meant to remove the scent so that your pet will not want to come back and use the same place again in the future. Nature’s Miracle is an example of this type of product.
- Stool Eating Deterrents: The best method to keep dogs from eating their own stool is to pick it up right away so that it is not a ‘temptation’. If you do catch them trying to eat the stool, then redirect them into an appropriate behavior that you can reward them for (e.g. ask them to sit and then give them a treat or praise for doing something right). Stool eating deterrent products are available, but if your pet eats stool from other animals, then these products will not help at all.
- Gentle Leader: Dogs who need some help with their ability to walk on a leash may benefit from a Gentle Leader- type training collar. These head collars can make a tremendous difference in dogs who pull on leashes or are learning to heal.