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!
While some vets may prescribe your dog pharmaceutical meds … they may not be the best choice. Medications for anxiety can have some pretty bad side effects (which I’ll talk about shortly). Luckily, there are lots of natural remedies you can try.
Before we look at those, here’s some background on dog anxiety.
Common Types Of Dog Anxiety
There are 2 types of dog anxiety … behavioral and situational.
1. Behavioral Anxiety
Behavioral anxiety is when your dog has ongoing anxiety about something.
Separation anxiety is a perfect example. And 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.
But separation anxiety is just one example … there are lots of other causes of behavioral anxiety, including:
- Past trauma
- Multiple homes
- The loss of someone close
2. Situational Anxiety
Situational anxiety is when your dog is afraid of something specific. Common triggers of situational anxiety in dogs include:
- Storms or other loud noises
- Car rides
- 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 may have even 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 with dog owners) because of its many benefits. It helps with pain management, seizures … and even cancer. 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. If a storm is coming or you’re heading out in the car, give your dog 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.
There’s a reason people drink chamomile before bed … it’s a gentle herb and a powerful sedative. 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)
Valerian 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)
St John’s Wort is a safe, effective alternative to anti-depressant drugs.
Use it for separation or fear-based anxiety (thunderstorms or fireworks).
All 3 of these herbs can be made into a tea, used as a tincture, or as a capsule.
If you brew a tea, pour it over your dog’s food or into her water.
1 to 20 lbs … 1/4 cup, 1-3 times per day
20 to 50 lbs … 1/4 – 1/2 cup, 1-3 times per day
50 to 100 lbs … 1 cup, 1-3 times per day
If you use a tincture, add to water or food or put directly in her mouth.
1 to 20 lbs … 1-4 drops, 2-3 times daily
20 to 50 lbs … 5-10 drops, 2-3 times daily
50 to 100 lbs … 10-20 drops, 2-3 times daily
If you give your dog a capsule, open it up and put it on your dog’s food. You can also place it in a chunk of cheese or banana and give it to your dog that way.
1 to 20 lbs … 1/2 – 1 capsule, 1-3 times daily
20 to 50 lbs … 1 or 2 capsules, 2-3 times daily
50 to 100 lbs … 1 or 2 capsules, 3-4 times daily
RELATED: Natural herbs for pain relief …
#3 Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies are effective because they target specific symptoms. They’re also very safe.
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.
Pinpoint what’s causing the fear and use one of these remedies for fast relief. Generally, you want to start with 3 doses, 12 hours apart, then stop and wait for changes before dosing again.
Aconite is a good remedy to start with. It helps with fear in general and can be given every 15 minutes during a storm. Continue only until you see improvement. If you don’t see improvement, try another remedy.
Phosphorus is good for all noise phobias. It can be given once or twice a day.
Pulsatilla nigicans 6C or 30C
This remedy a good remedy for separation anxiety.
Borax is specific for fears of thunderstorms and can be given twice a day.
Gelsemium 6C or 30C
Gelsemium is often used for separation anxiety. There may even be diarrhea or involuntary urination when under extreme stress with this dog.
#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. 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. Rescue remedy is a pre-made blend of 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 and is available at most health stores.
#5 Essential Oils
Essential oils like lavender and violet leaf are great for calming anxiety.
You can also try blending multiple oils. These blends are 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.
Spray the diluted oil on your dog’s bed or blanket or in the air. You can also use a diffuser but make sure your dog has a way to leave the room if the oils make her uncomfortable.
Caution: Never allow your dog to ingest oils in any way. Don’t ever use undiluted essential oils on your dog.
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 from it, it can impact her quality of life (and your own). Thanks to these natural solutions, you can help her get some relief.