Adaptil advert for plug in that 'calms stressed dogs' banned over lack of evidence

A television advert for a plug-in diffuser that “calms anxious dogs ” has been banned due to a lack of evidence that the devices work.

A number of different pet brands sell plug-in diffusers designed to help calm anxious or stressed pets.

Typically, the plug-ins use pheromones which are picked up by special receptors on your dog or cat's face.

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These pheromones are designed to mimic those used by mother dogs to communicate with their puppies and provide a strong signal of comfort and security.

The now-banned advert for Ceva Animal Health’s Adaptil plug-in featured a dog pawing at the door after being left alone at home, before the owner said: “I tried Adaptil. Just plug it in - easy.

“You can see he's relaxed. The same dude, just better behaved.

“Now when I'm out and about he's no problem, which is great."

A female voiceover then said: "Best behaviour starts with Adaptil", while text along the bottom of the screen stated: "Behavioural therapy may be required. Ask your vet for advice."

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed that a viewer had complained, saying the advert’s claims that Adaptil could alleviate anxiety and improve behaviour were “misleading and unsubstantiated”.

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In response, Ceva Animal Health provided a number of studies which it said showed that Adaptil had anxiety-reducing properties and said the product was proven to help adult dogs cope in challenging or worrying situations, helped to promote learning, and ensured puppies became well-behaved, confident and resilient dogs.

The company also said the advert clearly suggested owners use Adaptil as a complementary option alongside behavioural advice to help dogs cope with being separated from their owner, and that any additional help required should be sought from a behaviourist or vet.

Despite this, the ASA ruled that the advert led consumers to believe that the diffuser could treat anxiety and behavioural issues in dogs caused by separation from their owners, and that, once the device was plugged in, owners would begin to see results with no further training or instruction necessary.

It also said that a number of the studies submitted by Ceva to support the advert's claims were not relevant, did not provide sufficient substantiation or involved sample sizes that were too small.

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"Because the advertiser had not submitted sufficient evidence to support their efficacy claims regarding behavioural and anxiety-related issues associated with owner separation, we concluded the ad's claims were likely to mislead,” the ASA said.

“We told Ceva Animal Health not to claim or imply that Adaptil could treat anxiety-related and behavioural issues associated with owner separation unless they held adequate evidence to demonstrate that was the case.”

The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form.

Speaking of the news, a Ceva Animal Health spokesperson said: “We understand the ruling.

“Ceva Animal Health is the leading science-based company in behavioural products and prides itself on its ongoing dedication to animal welfare through evidence-based practice.”

The move comes just weeks after the ASA banned a separate television advert for promoting “dangerous and daring behaviour” .

The advert by Scottish whisky brand The Macallan showed a man growing wings as he tumbled towards the ground before on-screen text read: “Would you risk falling for the chance to fly?”

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The final frame stated “The Macallan. Make the call”, accompanied by an image of the brand’s whisky in a glass.

The ASA deemed the advert “irresponsible” and ruled it must not appear again in its current form.