Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Helsinki UNI
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.
The initial results and the summary of the study, which indicates that the Lymed Animal garment might reduce the acute stress reaction and speed up the recovery after stress, can be read below.
The entire research report with all the data and exact methods will be published as an article at a later date.
The effect of pressure vest on noise phobic dogs in a double-blinded experiment
• Anne-Maria Pekkin, Department of Child Psychiatry, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oulu, Finland, anne.pekkin(a)student.oulu.fi
• Laura Hänninen, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland,
• Katriina Tiira, Department of Veterinary Biosciences and Research Programs Unit, University of Helsinki & The Folkhälsan Research Center, Finland,
• Aija Koskela, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland,
• Merja Pöytäkangas, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland,
• Hannes Lohi, Department of Veterinary Biosciences and Research Programs Unit, University of Helsinki, Finland
• Project leader: professor Anna Valros, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland, anna.valros(a)helsinki.fi
Fear of loud noises is a very common welfare problem in pet dogs, and the severity of fearful reaction varies from mild anxiety to severe phobia. Commercial pressure vests have been tested on dogs to relief noise phobia and peripheral oxytocin has been suggested to be one of the stress-relieving mediators. However the effect of vests has not been tested in a controlled situation. We tested whether pressure vests calm severely noise phobic dogs in a double-blinded experiment, and if the possible effect differs between deep and light pressure vests. We also studied if the deep pressure vest increases oxytocin secreted in urine.
We recruited 28 dogs (mean age 5.9 years, range 2-11 years) via an ongoing study on the genetic background of noise sensitivity by the Finnish Canine Genetic Research Group. The participating dogs represented 14 breeds, from which the majority were Lagotto Romagnolo and Strafforshire Bullterreiers. Of the dogs 18 were female and 10 male dogs.
Two vests of similar texture (Lymed Animal™ supporting garments, Lymed Ltd®, Finland) were individually customized for each dog. The deep pressure vest (DEEP) created a pressure of approximately 10-12 mmHg and the light pressure vest (LIGHT) a pressure of approximately 2-3 mmHg pressure. Each dog was tested three times either without any vest (CONTROL) or with DEEP or LIGHT vests in a semi-randomized order. During tests dogs were exposed to 2 minutes of 70-73 dB firework sound (noise), and the dogs´ behaviour was video recorded 2 minutes before (pre-noise), during (noise) and 2 minutes after (recovery) the noise. Saliva samples were collected four times during the noise test day: at arrival, before the pre-noise interval (20 from arrival), and 20 and 40 min after the noise exposure. In addition, urine samples were collected when the deep pressure vest was first fitted: one sample before dressing the dog in the vest and one sample after 30 min exposure to the deep vest.
We analysed the differences between treatments (CONTROL, DEEP and LIGHT) for behavioural parameters (activity, body and tail postures, vocalization, time spent near owner) and saliva cortisol, and compared the urine oxytocin between samples taken before and after exposure to the DEEP vest.
The DEEP vest reduced lying time in the dogs during noise exposure. The vests had no significant effect on saliva cortisol or urine oxytocin. However, we found that during noise exposure total lying time with any vest correlated positively with the saliva cortisol measured after noise exposure, indicating that increased lying time was a sign of higher stress level in the dogs. Thus, the DEEP vest appeared to reduce stress-related lying (freezing behavior) during the noise exposure
Both DEEP and LIGHT vests increased the time the dogs spent near their owners during noise exposure. Time spent near the owner when wearing the DEEP vest during the recovery interval correlated positively with the urine oxytocin. These results indicate that oxytocin might be related to the dog´s tendency to seek owner support and the vests might effect this behaviour positively.
We did not find a clear therapeutic effect of using pressure vests in noise phobic dogs in a double-blinded experimental set-up. However, our results indicate that the pressure vest might reduce the acute stress reaction and speed up the recovery after stress, possibly partly by facilitating more owner support seeking in the dogs. More controlled studies are needed to ascertain the benefit of pressure vest for treating noise-phobia, but should preferably be performed in the dogs home environment.