IS YOUR DOG ANXIOUS?
Much like us humans, angst and fear are amongst emotions dogs deal with. Sadly, it can stop your dog from enjoying normal doggie activities like going for a walk around the neighborhood or spending some time alone when you leave the house. Although it is common, it’s not the most comfortable state of being so it’s important to find a way to help him/her relax and take a chill pill.
While some vets may prescribe your dog conventional meds, they may not be the best option for your puppers. Medications for anxiety like medications for anything can have some pretty crummy side effects or long term effects on your dog’s organs and overall health. Luckily, there are lots of natural remedies you can try first. Before we explain what kind of natural remedies could help your dog stay zen, let’s get a background on pup anxiety.
For the most part, there are 2 types of dog anxiety, behavioral and situational.
Behavioral anxiety is when your dog has continuous anxiety about something in particular. Separation anxiety is a perfect example and happens to be the most popular anxiety amongst dogs. Some experts estimate that about 15% of dogs suffer from it. These dogs are afraid of being at home alone or separated from you altogether. They’ll start showing signs of stress when you pick up your keys or grab your coat. However separation anxiety is just one example, there are many other causes of behavioral anxiety, including:
- Past or puppy trauma
- A loss of a loved one
Another common type of anxiety is situational anxiety. Situational anxiety is when your dog is afraid of something very specific. Triggers of situational anxiety in dogs include:
- Storms or other loud noises
- Car rides
- Going to the vet or groomer
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 or refusal to eat
- Trembling or shaking
- Excessive panting or yawning
If your dog is responding to a stressor in an anxious way, you can try to distract him/her while exposed to said trigger or simply remove them from the stressful situation. Giving your dog a treat or toy, petting them or moving them to a safe space are good solutions in the moment. Leaving on calming music in the house while you’re away or purchasing a weighted blanket can also help.
Long term, you can try to slowly desensitize your dog to the stressor. If your dog has separation anxiety, build up his/her trust by slowly increasing the amount of time you leave the house and giving lots of positive reinforcement to reward good behaviour. This will help them get used to you coming and going and have them associate treats, toys, cuddles with the experience. (Fun fact, that is called counter-conditioning and if you use desensitization and counterconditioning together, they can be even more effective.)
Aside from these tips, there are also many natural alternatives you can safely use to calm your dog. Let’s go over a few!
#1 CBD Oil
The use of CBD oil is becoming very popular (especially with dog owners) because it has so many benefits. It can help with pain management, seizures and even cancer.
But most importantly, it can help keep your pup zen. How does it work?
Ok let’s get a little scientific here — It’s all about the endocannabinoid system. The body, canine and human alike, 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 his/her natural ability to create serotonin and serotonin is a natural mood stabilizing hormone. In short, research suggests that CBD increases the ability of these interactions with the nervous system to soothe and calm your dog’s nervous system.
What’s great about CBD is that it works fairly quickly. If you know you’ll be in a situation where your dog could be triggered, give your dog some CBD oil 30-60 minutes before and make sure to always follow the dosing instructions on the bottle. We fully support the use of CBD and the many benefits it may bring to dogs so much so that we may just have a calming blend for dogs in the works, stay tuned!
There are a few herbs that can help soothe your dog’s stress.
Chamomile – Chamomile does wonders! It’s one of the most gentle herbs and is a powerful sedative. It can help your dog relax and soothe his/her digestive system when he/she is nervous. Tip : great for dogs who get nervous in the car or get carsick.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) – Valerian is a widely recognized herbal sedative. It’s safe, gentle and is great to calm the nerves. It also promotes physical relaxation.
Tip : great for stressful events like large crowds or construction sites 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-depressants. Tip : great for dogs with fear-based or separation anxiety (thunderstorms or longer hooman work schedules).
You can find all 3 herbs in a tea form, tincture or capsule, consult your holistic vet for more information.
#3 Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies are awesome because they target specific symptoms. They’re also very safe and are derived from natural plant extracts. Speak to your local holistic or alternative vet for specifics about dosage, options and administration.
#4 Bach Flower Essences
These flower essences are gentle, non-toxic and your dog can’t overdose on them. You can use individual essences that fit specific anxiety and fears or you can use Rescue Remedy. Consult your holistic/alternative vet for more info!
If your dog has to deal with anxiety, it can be very stressful for him/her but it can also be difficult to manage for you. Hopefully these natural remedies and solutions may help relieve your pup and help you offer them a better quality of life.