Dogs experience anxiety just like we do. This is natural—life can be stressful! However, unlike people, dogs can’t verbally express their anxiety (nor can we explain to them what’s going on or how to meditate the stress away). Prescribing medication is an option, but for those of us hesitant to force Xanax on our Dobermans, there are natural remedies aplenty. Dog parents are going au naturel when it comes to pup anxiety more than ever before. Here are seven places to start.
1. Treats and Supplements
Disguise a calming supplement as a well-earned treat! Chewable goodies like these, which were developed by holistic veterinarians, are effective when given before a stressful event, like a car ride or thunderstorm. Full of herbs and vitamins, Only Natural Pet Just Relax Herbal Calming Soft Chews promise your pup’s personality will stay the same after ingesting (as opposed to some prescription meds that can alter personality).
2. CBD Oil
CBD oil is useful in so many ways. A few drops in your dog’s food can relieve joint pain, soothe nerves and may even improve heart health. All dogs react differently, but it’s worth a try if your pup’s anxiety is negatively impacting his quality of life. Source Organic CBD Oil combines CBD with coconut oil. Others, like PB Pets, offer pure hemp seed oil with no additional ingredients.
3. Powdered Supplements
If your pup refuses oil and treats, try a powdered formula mixed in with wet or dry food. Doc Ackerman’s Herbal Nerve & Anxiety Formula recipe includes chamomile, peppermint, St. John’s wort, passion flower and valerian root, all of which are ingredients known to calm the body and center the mind. Chamomile and peppermint can also alleviate upset stomachs; St. John’s wort is a common alternative to prescription antidepressants; and valerian root targets physical tension. Honestly, might mix some into my own smoothie tomorrow.
Need an excuse to waltz with your Great Dane in the living room? Here you go: A 2017 study from the University of Glasgow showed that music helped dogs who were kenneled chill out for a while. While the music didn’t significantly stop dogs from barking, they did spend more time lying down than running around. The music that had the most soothing effects? Soft rock and reggae.
5. Anti-Anxiety Clothing
The American Kennel Club’s Calming Coat for Dogs applies gentle pressure to a pup’s chest while he wears it. The coat essentially swaddles your dog and reinforces a sense of security. This model is machine-washable and totally drug free. Thundershirt makes a similar product with different sizing and style options.
Scent is a huge factor in a dog’s environment because their sense of smell is so good. Sprays that mimic canine pheromones, like ThuderEase’s Calming Spray, which is drug-free, remind dogs of their mothers and nursing. This can be an incredibly soothing experience. For a 100 percent natural essential oil spray, try ThunderEssence Naturally Calming Dog Spray with lavender, chamomile and Egyptian geranium.
7. Massaging and Brushing
Ever had a massage? Pretty relaxing, right? Give your dog the same treatment! Often, dogs develop anxiety after something scary happens (thunder, fireworks) while their person is away. Spending quality time brushing and massaging your pup with a Furbliss brush can melt away stress and be a solid bonding activity. Plus, some dogs over-groom or scratch their skin raw as a result of their nervousness. A thorough massage will reveal whether this behavior is also present.