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Randomized, placebo-controlled prospective clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of the Assisi anti-anxiety device (calmer canine) for the treatment of canine separation anxiety

By K. Pankratz, J. Korman, C. Emke, B. Johnson, E. H. Griffith, M. E. Gruen

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Introduction: Separation anxiety (SA) is among the most common canine behavior disorders and affects quality-of-life for dogs and their owners. Dogs with SA show signs of anxiety during absence or perceived absence of their owners. While psychoactive medications are often helpful for treating SA, dog and human factors may limit their utility. This study explored the efficacy of a pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) device for treatment of canine SA.

Materials and Methods: In this double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study, a screening questionnaire and baseline video confirmed the diagnosis of SA. Owners treated their dog with the device twice daily for 6 weeks, completed weekly questionnaires, and noted adverse events. Videos were taken of the dog while alone at weeks 4 and 6. Behaviors were coded and categorized as negative and positive. Questionnaire and video data at weeks 4 and 6 were compared to baseline.

Results: Forty client-owned dogs with moderate to severe SA completed the study. There were no differences between groups for age, weight, or sex. In owner questionnaires, no difference in behavior or overall score was found between the active and sham groups (p > 0.05). Videos of the active group compared to the sham group showed significant reduction in negative behaviors by week 6 (p = 0.036) and higher percentage of success at week 4 (Z = 2.83, p = 0.005), at week 6 (Z = 1.65, p = 0.098), and across the full study (Z = 1.99, p = 0.047). Adverse events were reported in eight dogs (6 active, 2 sham); all resolved and were unlikely to be related to treatment.

Discussion: This study supports the efficacy and safety of this PEMF device for treatment of SA in dogs. Questionnaire results may not be sensitive enough to detect subtle negative behavioral states compared to video, and may not capture other owner observed behavioral changes. A caregiver placebo effect may account for some improvement seen in both groups. Video data appear better for diagnosis and monitoring dog's behavior when left alone. Future studies should assess PEMF's impact on other anxieties or combination of anxiety disorders in dogs.

Date 2021
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 7
Issue December
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2021.775092
Author Address Behavioral Medicine Service, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina,
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal diseases
  3. Animals
  4. Anthrozoology
  5. Anxiety
  6. Behavioral disorders
  7. Behavioral research
  8. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  9. Canidae
  10. Canine
  11. Carnivores
  12. Clinical aspects
  13. Companion
  14. Diagnosis
  15. Diseases and injuries of animals
  16. Dogs
  17. Mammals
  18. monitoring
  19. open access
  20. Pets and companion animals
  21. therapy
  22. vertebrates
  23. Veterinary sciences
  24. Veterinary surgery
  25. video recordings
  26. Zoology
  1. open access