Influence of Dog- Appeasing Pheromone on Canine Maternal Behaviour During the Peripartum and Neonatal Periods

Scientific Journal Articles

Background: Parturition and the initial postpartum period are important moments in the reproductive cycle of dogs. Methods: A study assessed the effect of ADAPTIL, a dog-appeasing pheromone, on maternal behaviour during peripartum. Bitches were continuously exposed to ADAPTIL (n=20) or placebo (n=21) in double-blinded conditions from an average of about seven days before parturition up to 21 days postpartum. Differences in maternal behaviour in relation to the treatment were evaluated by the observation of specific activities through video recordings, such as the time spent by the bitch in close contact with the puppies, oronasal interaction and nursing duration and position. Videos were recorded at four time points (W0: within the first 48 hours of whelping; W1: one week after parturition; W2: two weeks after parturition; and W3: three weeks after parturition). In addition, the perception of breeders in relation to the quality of maternal care, puppies’ wellbeing and overall relationship between the bitches and the puppies was evaluated using Visual Analogue Scale at the same time points. Moreover, the daily activity of the bitches was measured by using an electronic device (FitBark dog activity trackers, Kansas City, Missouri). Results: For all observed maternal behaviours, there was a steady decrease in levels as the puppies developed, independently of treatment. However, bitches exposed to ADAPTIL tended to nurse significantly more in lying position, while those exposed to the placebo nursed more in a seated position, especially at W1 (P=0.06) and W3 (P=0.005). According to the breeders, the attention scores of bitches towards puppies were significantly higher in ADAPTIL than in the placebo group at each time point (P=0.01). Moreover, a difference according to parity was observed (P=0.004), with greater attention score displayed by primiparous bitches exposed to ADAPTIL compared with placebo on W0 (P=0.02), W1 and W3 (P<0.001). The global mother–puppies relationship was also perceived as significantly better (P=0.0002) by breeders of bitches exposed to ADAPTIL, with significant differences at W2 (P=0.01) and W3 (P=0.001). The bitches’ daily activity increased starting two days before the whelp, peaked during parturition and then gradually declined up until four days postpartum. There was a trend towards a difference in the activity level according to the treatment during the full study period (P=0.09) and at two days before parturition (P=0.07). Bitches exposed to ADAPTIL were more active compared with placebo in relation to the FitBark data. Conclusion: The use of ADAPTIL in maternity modulated maternal behaviours. Concerning the caregiver’s view, bitches under the influence of ADAPTIL had greater and extended attention towards the puppies and they were eager to stay with the puppies for a longer time.

Santos, N.R., Beck, A., Blondel, T., Maenhoudt, C., and Fontbonne, A. (2020). Influence of dog- appeasing pheromone on canine maternal behaviour during the peripartum and neonatal periods. VetRecord, 186(14), 449. DOI: 10.1136/vr.105603

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Topic(s): Breeder Resource, Environment, Temperature, Humidity & Ventilation