Influence of ADAPTIL® during the Weaning Period: A Double-Blinded Randomised Clinical Trial
ADAPTIL®, a dog-appeasing pheromone, was shown to modify the dam–puppies' interactions during the neonatal period but could also influence the weaning period. Fourteen bitch/litter dyads continuously exposed to ADAPTIL® from the third/fourth weeks until the seventh/eighth weeks postpartum were compared to 11 dyads exposed to a placebo. Maternal and puppy behaviours were video-recorded, and at three time points (weeks three/four, weeks five/six and weeks seven/eight) after parturition. The
... turition. The well-being of the puppies and the overall relationship with the bitch were assessed using visual analogue scales (VAS) completed by the caregivers. All mothering behaviours, such as time of contact, licking and the amount of time dedicated to nursing puppies, decreased gradually from weeks three/four to weeks seven/eight. A switch in nursing position was observed over time: the use of the standing position increased compared to the lying position. The treatment had an effect on the nursing position: bitches in the ADAPTIL® group nursed more often in a lying (p = 0.007) or sitting position (p = 0.037), whereas for the placebo group, they favoured the standing position (p = 0.011). Once the puppies became more demanding for suckling, the bitches started showing rejection signs or aggressive growling, with a peak at weeks seven/eight. The pheromone seemed to reduce the intensity of avoidance in bitches exposed to ADAPTIL® at all time points. The score of all events combined as a sign of frustration showed a difference over the full period (p = 0.003), with the placebo group having a significantly higher score. From the caregiver perspective (through the VAS), under ADAPTIL®, the bitches were calmer when puppies tried to suckle (p = 0.001), more tolerant towards pups (p = 0.025), showed a greater motherly attitude (p = 0.016), the puppies cried less when left alone (p < 0.001) and interactions amongst pups were more harmonious (p = 0.055). Under ADAPTIL®, the bitches were less annoyed by the puppies, who seemed to cope better with frustration. The breeders perceived a benefit of the pheromone during the weaning period.