7 Natural Ways to Help Calm Your Anxious Dog
Years ago (and still a little now), I was more “anti” natural than most people. So many people want to deny their dog medicine or think that there are purely natural strategies for problems or conditions. This is simply not always true.
You see, I am a firm believer in modern medicine. As a veterinary technician, I witness, daily, the value of medicine and how it saves and extends our furry family members’ lives.
As humans, we have come leaps and bounds in the annals of history when it comes to modern medicine. We can cure diseases! Some of the things that killed humans and animals 100 years ago don’t even exist in most cultures. We have mapped DNA and we have the unique ability, therefore, to cure and control conditions and diseases as they affect our specific DNA.
Natural Treatments And Your Dog
Interestingly, I was at work when one of our drug reps came in to discuss how a new kind of “non-drug” synthesized natural protein and is being utilized to help itchy dogs. Cytopoint is a monoclonal antibody (mAb) that specifically targets and neutralizes canine IL-31, which is an essential cytokine that sends the signal to itch to the brain in dogs. This injection, which is a natural protein (not a drug), can intercept that itch signal. Really, this stuff is amazing and is being used in human medicine as well.
I love how drug therapy and natural therapies are coming together to provide us with better medicine.
My Life has Been Stressful
Lately, my life has been stressful.
I suppose life goes great most of the time and then you run into little bumps along the way.
I was bitten by a dog at work. The hospital I worked at was bought out by a company in another state and their procedures and care were lacking for both employees and the medicine and critters we see.
I was losing sleep and unhappy.
And, when I lose sleep…I get a little nutty.
So I was sitting on the bench in the gym, talking to my personal trainer, pre-work out (we are doing some body building), and I was discussing my stress level and inability to sleep.
I had used some over the counter medication and nothing was working.
I was tired and cranky and simply put: depressed.
So he (God bless his sweet soul) started expressing concern and admitting he had noticed. He then gave me some natural alternatives: Valarian Root, Melatonin, L-Theanine as supplements prior to bed. He also suggested chamomile tea and lavender baths.
Honestly, if he had suggested dancing naked in the woods around a fire and chanting from an ancient language, I probably would have tried it. ;D I was willing to do just about anything.
I know you are thinking, who cares…or, what on earth does this have to do with dogs…ha ha
I was surprised as I sat down a week later to find that nearly all of the supplements he had suggested to me were also suggested in an article written by a veterinarian about taming hyperactive dogs!
I guess it helped me to realize that some natural supplements and treatments can also work with calming an anxious dog.
But, before we get too far into this article, let me remind you that you should check with your veterinarian prior to giving your dog any supplement. Your dog may have an underlying heart condition, high kidney or liver values, or other conditions that need to be taken into account prior to adding any medications or supplements.
Plus, your vet can help you find the right dosage that will work best for your individual dog. And, for that reason, I won’t even begin to talk about dosage here. That should be asked of your vet!
Everything I read in real medical documents say that herbs are a time honored approach to treating problems and disease. Herbs, however, can have side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care and under the supervision of your doctor or vet!
Here are 7 great natural ways to help calm your anxious dog:
Adaptil is a dog pheromone that can help calm your dog. Adaptil is a synthetic copy of a pheromone released by the mother dog from her mammary area after a puppy’s birth. This pheromone sends a comforting message, providing a strong signal of security as the puppies wander and explore.
I think it is safe to say that pheromones have been proven to be effective in many situations.
Lavender has some calming properties for human, and, it seems, dogs too.
Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled.
A number of studies have concluded that lavender is possibly beneficial in several kinds of disorders, including anxiety, stress, postoperative pain, and alopecia.
My opinion? Why not use some lavender laundry soap or diffusers to help calm your dog.
Worst case scenario, your wild dog will just smell lovely.
3. Solliquin & Composure
These commonly need to come from your veterinarian.
Solloquin comes packed with a lot of these natural ingredients but they are provided in amounts that have been studied and proven to be safe in dogs.
Solliquin has L-Theanine, L-Tryptophan, Whey Protein concentrate (that has been tested to be safe and effective for dogs) as well as Magnolia and Philodendron extracts, all of which have been studied and found to be effective to treat dogs with anxiety.
The #1 thing that I like and respect about the Nutramax company is that they do their research and provide all of their findings. The FDA does not require this of dog medications or supplements. However, Nutramax wants to ensure that their products are being absorbed, used, and are effective for our furry friends.
Likewise, I have heard good things about Composure, yet have not had the opportunity to continue my education by learning about their research.
Melatonin is commonly used for people with insomnia and problems sleeping.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that regulates sleep and wakefulness.
Interesting to note that in some countries, this supplement or medication does require a prescription. So, as always, be careful when you use it with your dog!
It can also help with cancer, gall stones, psychiatry, protection from radiation, and headaches in people!
This was the drug or supplement that I got into the most trouble from my personal trainer for not getting. Admittedly, I went to Walmart and they didn’t have it…so I gave up…since I hate shopping.
But L-Theanine is known for being able to cross the blood-brain barrier and has been reported to have the ability to reduce physical and mental stress, improve cognition, and improve mood (probably what my trainer wanted to see – haha).
Essentially it claims to help people focus and concentrate while having relaxing and tranquilizing properties.
Clearly I do need all of these principles 😉
6. Valerian Root
I must admit, I did find this fairly quickly in the Walmart supplement selection (I’m lazy when I shop because I hate it!). But the odor about kills me. And, just a note, I swear I smell like it the next day…my trainer says I am crazy…but I hate smelling bad, at all!
Valerian Root is used mainly for the treatment of sleep disorders, especially insomnia. It is frequently used with hops (humans), and lemon balm (which can be used in dogs) or other herbs that can cause drowsiness.
Valerian is also used for anxiety and psychological stress, including nervous asthma (humans), epilepsy, ADHD, and chronic fatigue.
It can also be used for menstrual cramps, menopause and hot flashes.
***perhaps I should “cowboy up” (I am from WY) and try this again!
This is an amino acid or protein building block that can be found in animal and plant proteins. It is an essential amino acid because the body cannot make it. It must be acquired from food.
This is the supplement, drug, or whatever you want to call it that we heard about years back that causes us to be tired after Thanksgiving dinner!
Turkey, apparently, is filled with L-Tryptophan, causing you to need a nap after you gorge yourself on dinner!
L-Tryptophan itself is segmented and used to treat insomnia, depression, anxiety, PMS, smoking cessation, teeth grinding, Tourette’s and ADHD (in humans of course). The amount of issues that this treats is amazing, really!
This protein is converted into serotonin.
Serotonin is used to transmit signals between cells.
Changes in serotonin levels in the brain can alter mood!
Understanding this Data
All of this can be overwhelming!
I understand that.
There are supplements that do all kinds of things and make all kinds of promises.
However when taken together, some negate others.
And, it is important to make sure that these supplements are right for your dog.
Do your research! Print this out and make an appointment with your veterinarian and come up with a plan that will help with your specific problem.
But don’t forget to add in some behavior modification; because all the drugs in the world won’t help your dog if you don’t work on training your puppy, too.
I found a new job, I work out harder, and I sleep better.
The point is that adding a few things together, behavior modification, change, and the right supplements, can help put you or your dog on the path to feeling better!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.