Fear of loud noises is a common welfare problem in pet dogs. Commercial treatment vests have been tested on dogs to relieve noise phobia, and peripheral oxytocin has been suggested to be one of the stress-relieving mediators. The effect of vests has not, however, been tested in a controlled situation. Lymed was a part of a study, conducted by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Helsinki, on noise phobic dogs. The pilot study was set up to find out whether the use of Lymed Animal garments effect the behaviour of noise phobic dogs.
In a co-operation project of the universities Helsinki and Oulu it was tested whether individually customized vests, have an effect on behaviour of severely noise phobic dogs in a double-blinded experiment, where dogs are exposed to loud noises. We also investigated the possible effect of pressure by using two types of vests ; a deep pressure vest and a light pressure vest. The vests were custom made by Lymed (Tampere, Finland). In addition to behaviour, it was studied if the pressure vest has an effect on urine oxytocin level and on saliva cortisol levels.
28 dogs were recruited via an ongoing study on the genetic background of noise sensitivity by the Finnish Canine Genetic Research Group. Each dog was tested three times either without vest or with or vests in a semi-randomized order. The dogś behaviour was video recorded for 6 minutes, including three 2 minutes intervals: pre-noise, noise (70–73 dB firework sound) and recovery. Saliva samples were collected twice before and twice after the noise test. Urine samples for oxytocin analyses were collected when the deep pressure vest was first fitted.
A clear therapeutic effect of using pressure vests in noise phobic dogs was not found. The pressure vest changed the behaviour of dogs during a noise interval in a double-blinded, controlled experiment, but only to a limited extent. The vest facilitated dogs to seek comfort from their owners and reduced the time dogs spent freezing. The article has been accepted into Applied Animal Behaviour Science Journal. Read the entire study from here!