You know your dog better than anyone else. You know when she’s relaxed, when she’s bored, and when she’s happy …
… But can you also tell when she’s stressed out?
Dog anxiety is common. It can stop your dog from enjoying normal doggie activities … like going for a walk around the neighborhood. So it’s important to find a way to help her relax and have fun!
Do you know what to do to calm your dog when she’s anxious? I’m sharing below some great natural remedies you can try. They’ll help you avoid pharmaceutical meds that have some bad side effects.
But first, some background on dog anxiety in general.
Common Types Of Dog Anxiety
There are 2 types of dog anxiety, behavioral and situational.
Behavioral anxiety is when your dog has ongoing anxiety about something.
Separation anxiety is an example of behavioural anxiety. It’s the most common anxiety in dogs. Some experts estimate that about 14% of dogs suffer from it. These dogs are afraid of being at home alone or separated from you in any way.
There can be many causes of behavioral anxiety. Past trauma or abuse can cause your dog to react or act out.
Situational anxiety is when your dog is afraid of something specific, like storms or other loud noises, car rides, or going to the vet or groomer.
Note: Many dogs also suffer chronic fear or anxiety as a side effect of over-vaccination, especially with rabies. If you think this is your dog’s case, it’s best to consult a homeopathic vet to help treat her condition. Find one at theavh.org. Most will do phone consults.
Signs Of Dog Anxiety
Sometimes it’s easy to tell when your dog is anxious. Other times you may have to pay extra close attention.
These are some of the most common signs of dog anxiety:
- Chewing or destructive behavior
- Barking or crying
- Restlessness, pacing
- Excessive licking
- Loss of appetite, refusal to eat
- Trembling or shaking
- Excessive panting
What About Conventional Treatments?
If you go to a conventional vet, you’ll likely leave with a bottle of anti-anxiety medication. This includes meds like Valium, Xanax, ProZac, Paxil or Lorazepam. You’ve probably heard of these – many are human meds.
Most dogs have to take these drugs for several weeks before there’s a change. But that doesn’t mean the treatment stops after that.
Some dogs can eventually stop taking them, but others need life-long treatment.
And these drugs come with a long list of adverse side effects.
Some of them include:
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Lethargy and/or drowsiness
- Affected learning and memory
- Increased urination
- Upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting
- Increased aggression and anxiety
- Damage to the liver
- Skin conditions
Some drugs can even result in withdrawal symptoms if used long-term and stopped abruptly.
Luckily there are lots of natural alternatives you can safely use to calm your dog and help her deal with her anxiety.
6 Natural Solutions For Dog Anxiety
#1 CBD Oil
The use of CBD oil is exploding, especially among dog owners, because of its many benefits. It helps with pain management, seizures, even cancer …
And it’s also showing great results when used to manage dog anxiety.
How does it work?
It’s all about the endocannabinoid system.
The body has cannabinoid receptors throughout the central nervous system. Your dog’s body releases endocannabinoid chemicals on its own. These connect with the receptors that stimulate her natural ability to create serotonin. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer.
Research shows that CBD increases this ability. It interacts with the nervous system to soothe and calm anxiety.
CBD is great for situational anxiety because it works fairly quickly. For example, if a storm is coming or you’re heading out in the car, give her CBD oil 30-60 minutes before. This will help calm her down and keep her relaxed.
To give it to your dog, follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. You can add it to your dog’s food or place it straight in her mouth.
Related: Choosing The Best CBD Oil For Dogs
There are several herbs that can help soothe your dog’s anxiousness.
- Chamomile – this gentle herb is a powerful sedative – there’s a reason people drink it before bed. It can help your dog relax and soothe her stomach when she’s nervous.
Use it if your dog gets nervous in the car and gets car sick.
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) – this is the most widely recognized herbal sedative. It’s safe and gentle and calms the nerves. It also promotes physical relaxation.
Use it for stressful events or if your dog gets hysterical or overexcitable.
- St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – a safe, effective alternative to anti-depressant drugs.
Use it for separation or fear-based anxiety (thunderstorms or fireworks).
All three of these herbs can be made into a tea, used as a tincture, or as a capsule.
If giving a tea, pour over food or into your dog’s water. If giving a tincture, add to water or food or put directly in her mouth.
Here are the general rules for dosing:
- Tea – 1/4 cup, 1-3 times per day
- Capsules – 1/2 – 1 capsule, 1-3 times daily
- Tincture – 1-4 drops, 2-3 times daily
- Tea – 1/4 – 1/2 cup, 1-3 times per day
- Capsules – 1 or 2 capsules, 2-3 times daily
- Tincture – 5-10 drops, 2-3 times daily
- Tea – 1/2 – 1 cup, 1-3 times per day
- Capsules – 1 or 2 capsules, 3-4 times daily
- Tincture – 10-20 drops, 2-3 times daily
Related: Herbs aren’t just for anxiety. Find out more ways to heal your dog with herbs here.
#3 Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies are effective because many are very specific. They’re also very safe.
Pinpoint what’s causing the fear and use one of these remedies for fast relief.
- Aconite 30C – a good remedy to start with. It’s good for fear in general and can be given every fifteen minutes during a storm. Continue only until you see improvement. If you don’t see improvement, try another remedy.
- Phosphorus 30C – good for all noise phobias. It can be given once or twice a day.
- Pulsatilla nigicans 6C or 30C – a good remedy for separation anxiety.
- Borax 6C – this remedy is specific for fears of thunderstorms and can be given twice a day.
- Gelsemium 6C or 30C – this remedy is often used for separation anxiety. There may even be diarrhea or involuntary urination when under extreme stress with this dog.
To give these remedies, mix 3 of the little pellets in a glass of filtered water (try your best not to touch them with your hands). Mix them with a spoon and give your dog a few spoonfuls (or use a clean dropper to put some on her gums). If she’s really resistant to the spoon or dropper idea, you can also just put the pellets in her water bowl.
Start by giving three doses, 12 hours apart, then stop and wait for changes before dosing again.
#4 Bach Flower Essences
About 75 years ago, English physician Edward Bach made an exciting discovery. He found that the essence of certain flowers helps restore emotional balance.
And that makes them perfect for relieving stress and calming down an anxious dog. (It’s also good for your own stress too).
These remedies are gentle, non-toxic and can’t be overdosed.
You can use individual essences that fit your dog’s specific fears or you can use Rescue Remedy, a pre-made blend. It’s available at most health stores.
The Bach Flower Rescue Remedy contains five Bach Flower Remedies:
- Star of Bethlehem
- Rock Rose
- Cherry Plum
It can help in all kinds of stressful situations. Use it to relieve stress before going to the vet or the groomer. It’s also good for separation anxiety or for situations you know will cause fear.
The version that’s made for pets is preserved in glycerin, rather than brandy.
#5 Essential Oils
Essential oils like lavender and violet leaf are great for calming anxiety.
Grab your diffuser and try these blends from aromatherapist Joy Musacchio:
- Separation Anxiety: Neroli, Violet Leaf, Vetiver, Lavender, Rose hydrosol.
- Fear of Thunder and Fireworks: Frankincense, Rose Otto, Hops, and Cornflower hydrosol.
- General Anxiety: Frankincense, Violet Leaf, Linden Blossom, Roman Chamomile, Hemp.
For each recipe, combine 5 drops of each oil for a stock blend. When the recipe calls for a hydrosol, mix 5 drops of each oil into 2 oz of the hydrosol.
Note: When you diffuse essential oils, make sure your dog has a way to leave the room if the oils make her uncomfortable.
Caution: Don’t use essential oils directly on your dog’s skin or fur. Never allow your dog to ingest oils in any way. Don’t ever use undiluted essential oils on your dog.
Related: Want to know more about using essential oils safely? Here are 5 steps.
Essential oils are very powerful for dogs so hydrosols can be a much gentler option. Hydrosols are left over from the essential oil making process. They’re far less concentrated than the essential oils and considered safer for dogs.
Hydrosol Calming Spray
This calming spray from canine herbalist Rita Hogan is great for general anxiety. The chamomile and lavender hydrosols in it will soothe and calm your dog.
- ½ oz neroli (Citrus aurantium) hydrosol
- ½ oz blue chamomile (Matricaria recutita) hydrosol
- 5 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
Mix the ingredients together in a spray bottle. Shake before using and mist your dog. Refrigerate for up to six months.
Dog anxiety is common, and if your dog suffers, no matter the cause, it can impact her quality of life (and your own). Thanks to these natural solutions, you can help her get some relief.