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Consistency and efficacy of two methods of intranasal oxytocin application in dogs

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Schaebs,  Franka Simea
Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;
Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Deschner,  Tobias
Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;
Endocrinology Laboratory, Department of Primatology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Schaebs, F. S., Deschner, T., Range, F., Karl, S., & Marshall-Pescini, S. (2020). Consistency and efficacy of two methods of intranasal oxytocin application in dogs. Domestic Animal Endocrinology, 72: 106436. doi:10.1016/j.domaniend.2020.106436.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-9135-A
Abstract
Over the last few years, oxytocin (OT) administration to investigate the role of the oxytocinergic system in the social behavior of dogs has become of more and more interest. To date, the most common OT administration method for dogs is the intranasal spray commonly used for humans. Due to the different nasal conformation of dogs and the unpleasantness of the procedure, most dogs need to be restrained to allow administration. This has 2 main drawbacks—it may hinder reliable administration, which might lead to tremendous variance in the uptake of OT across individuals and it is likely to be stressful for the dogs. Alternatively, a vaporizer mask can be used to administer aerolized OT and dogs can be trained to voluntarily enter the mask, which might enable a more reliable administration without having to restrain the dogs. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of these 2 methods to identify a reliable non-invasive method for exogenous OT administration, thereby assisting future research on the role of OT in canines. We administered OT to pet dogs using either an intranasal spray bottle or a vaporizer mask and assessed urinary OT concentrations as a measure of OT uptake. We found that only when administered using a vaporizer mask, OT significantly increased in all subjects, while using a spray bottle led to considerable variance in OT uptake and an inconsistent increase in urinary OT concentrations across individuals. These results suggest that using a vaporizer mask should be preferred over using an intranasal spray bottle for OT administration in dogs. If not available, experimenters should at least monitor OT uptake after administration using spray bottles, to evaluate the success of the method.