Before treating dog anxiety with anti-anxiety medications, try using safer and milder natural alternative treatments. Natural remedies such as herbs, homeopathic remedies, flower essences, and aromatherapy, are effective in calming and relaxing an anxious dog.
- Educate yourself about how dogs think and why they do the things they do. Pet owners can be the unintentional cause of their pet’s anxiety. Learning more about what makes your dog tick will also help you to identify the cause of its jitters and make changes to help it relax. For example, giving your pet extra attention during a stressful episode–such as fireworks or a thunderstorm–isn’t necessarily the best method for relieving its fear. You may actually be worsening it. Give your pet a nice place to sleep, a radio or TV to block scary noises, and food, water and treats. But avoid coddling. You dog will take cues from you about when to be frightened.
Consider contacting a trainer or behaviorist to examine the way in which you interact with your dog. An expert may be able to give you specific tips for your situation that will help both you and your pet.
Ensure your pet gets enough exercise. A dog that is already bursting at the seams with energy is much more likely to become anxious, nervous or frightened.
Consider basic obedience training for your pet. Training increases the bond between you and your dog and it gives your pet additional confidence.
Herbal Remedies for Dog Anxiety
Herbs are excellent in calming nervous dogs suffering from anxiety. Herbs are mild and non-addictive, and they do not cause drowsiness after use! Even better, some nervous-calming herbs are nutritious tonics, providing additional support to our dogs’ nervous system. There are several nerve-calming herbs that can be used on dogs, but different dogs react differently to the herbs. Some herbs are more effective on some dogs, so try the different herbs on your dog to see which one(s) work best!
Chamomile – This herb reduces anxiety in dogs that are stressed out. It calms the nerve as well as induces sleep. You can give chamomile tea to your dog before a long drive or soak a treat in the tea.
Oat – Oat is an excellent nerve-calming herb and is nutritious as well. Cooked oatmeal can be added to your dog’s food.
Astragalus – This Chinese herb has immune-strengthening qualities and can be used continually (in moderation) to boost the body’s immune system under stress.
St-John’s Wort – This herb is excellent for separation anxiety and tension and is also effective for depressed dogs, and is available in capsules or as a tincture. It combines well with valerian.
Valerian – Valerian reduces tension, anxiety, over excitability in dogs. This herb is available in capsules or as a tincture.
Skullcap – Skullcap is effective for nervous tension. It also helps epileptic dogs.
** Sedative herbs (e.g. valerian, skullcap) and anti-depressants such as St-John’s wort should not be used continually for a long period of time.
Dogs that are easily spooked, have nervous tendencies or anxiety issues will eventually run away, bite someone, become destructive or get into some other type of trouble if their owners don’t take steps to help them. Having your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues is your first step toward a solution. Many veterinarians will prescribe medications to help your anxious pooch. However, many people are hesitant to medicate their pets for behavioral problems. There are several homeopathic options worth investigating.
- There are many herbs that are credited with helping calm a nervous dog, including chamomile, valerian, oat, astragalus, St. John’s wort and skullcap. It is best to consult with a homeopathic veterinarian before giving your pet any herbal solution.
- Nutritional supplements are also sometimes prescribed by homeopathic veterinarians in the treatment of anxiety in dogs. Among those often given to nervous dogs and hyperactive pets are L-theanine, thiamine and decapeptide.
- Flower essences are an especially popular homeopathic treatment for nervous people, cats and dogs. Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a top choice among homeopathic veterinarians and animal caretakers and can be given to a nervous pet (or person) 30 minutes or so before a stress-inducing event, such as a thunderstorm, fireworks show or veterinary appointment.
- Aromatherapy is also being used as a holistic treatment for anxiety-ridden dogs. A mixture including valerian, lavender, sage and sweet marjoram is often prescribed. The oils are blended together and a few drops are rubbed onto the dog’s ears, toes, thighs and beneath its legs.