There are a number of unique situations that can stress your dog. Like us, they can feel uneasy meeting new friends and in unfamiliar or crowded situations. With Halloween just around the corner and Christmas soon after, your pet may start feeling the pressures of the holiday season. The good news is that there are plenty of natural remedies to help ease anxiety symptoms and help your dog learn to react appropriately in times of stress. Natural calming treats may help settle your dog's nerves and make them feel more relaxed during crowded family gatherings.
How to Recognize Anxiety in Dogs
I'm sure we can all think of a time when we've felt stressed, and we each have our own methods for managing that stress. We need to be able to recognize our anxiety symptoms so that we can quickly take control. Recognizing symptoms in our pets is the first step towards helping them overcome their anxiety and to learn how to better respond in the future. Like any type of training it takes time, consistency and repetition, but anxiety can be managed. Here are a few symptoms to help identify when your dog is stressed:
Aggression is the most concerning and dangerous symptom of anxiety and can present in different ways. An aggressive dog isn't necessarily a bad dog, but often a scared dog. Signs of fear aggression can be barking, growling, snarling and sometime even biting. These are a very obvious warning signs that your dog is feeling overwhelmed in his current environment. If you see these signs of fear aggression, you need to act immediately. Calmly take your dog to a quiet relaxed space to allow him to calm down. In many cases of aggression, we recommend a mixture of calming solutions and professional training to help correct the behaviour.
Body language can be more subtle, but can often include involuntary physical reactions like shaking, excessive shedding, panting, drooling, or putting their tail between their legs. In cases of extreme anxiety, your dog may even urinate or defecate. Looking for your dog's body language clues may give you the opportunity to intervene and take control of the situation before it escalates.
These signs are a litter harder to notice but they may present in both negative and positive ways. Negative compulsive behaviours can include pacing, scratching and destructive behaviours like chewing. Some positive compulsive behaviours can actually be your dog's natural stress relief methods. For example, my dog, likes to carry his favourite toy or chew when he's meeting new people. It provides a calming effect similar to that of a baby soother or blanket. It gives him confidence in a situation that would typically make him feel very unsure.
Calming Treats for Dogs
Treats can be a simple way of providing relief from short-term stressful situations. When our pets are scared or nervous, it's natural that we want to reassure them by rewarding them with a tasty snack. Calming treats offer both the reward and the calming qualities, making it one of the easiest methods to provide anxiety relief. Like most medications, calming treats need at least 30 minutes to start working. Make sure your dog gets his treats before all of your family members arrive, or before travelling, to ensure that you get the best effect.
Here are our top picks for calming treats:
Naturvet Hemp Quiet Moments Soft Chews
NaturVet Quiet Moments are a small soft chew containing both hemp seed oil and hemp seed powder. Hemp oil works to reduce stress by allowing the immune system, which can trigger that "fight or flight reaction", to communicate better with receptors in the brain, helping to ease the tension. Natural calming aids like passion flower and melatonin also help to reduce stress and provide temporary anxiety relief. The use of ginger is to provide support for dogs with sensitive stomachs, which makes this product ideal for travel related anxiety or motion sickness. Naturvet also makes a hemp free alternative formulation to this product called NaturVet Quiet Moments Soft Chews.
True Leaf Hemp Calming Treats
True Leaf offers treats in both a soft chew and a dental stick format containing hemp seed powder and cold pressed hemp seed oil, and chamomile and lemon Balm which are both calming herbs. The unique ingredient in this formula is called L-Theanine, which is an amino acid found in green tea that promotes normal chemical balance in the brain, producing a calming effect. This is one of the tastier edible remedies on this list, so they are great option for picky pets. For allergy concerns, this product is grain free, and are high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to aid in skin and coat health.
Pet Naturals Calming Chews
This unique formula is safely designed for both dogs and cats (yes, cats can get stressed out too!). This formula uses L-Theanine just like the True Hemp, and they've added a vitamin B supplement, Thiamine, and Bovine Colostrum, which both promote a calming effect in the central nervous system. Pet Naturals Calming chews are naturally flavoured with chicken liver to make them easy to give to picky pets.
Granville Island Stress! Whaddya Mean I'm Stressed! Bites
Besides the catchy name, these biscuits are still pretty unique compared to the other brands on this list. The Granville Island Pet Treatery uses a number of calming herbs in their formula. Some of the lesser know herbs in this cookie are skullcap and ashwagandha. Skullcap is considered a nervine, a medicine used to calm nerves. Ashwagandha, nature's anti-depressant, can reduce anxiety according to study done by Phytomedicine (the international journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology). In addition to a variety of calming herbs, the only non-active ingredients in this biscuit are chickpeas and eggs, making it grain free and limited ingredient treat for those unfortunate allergy-ridden dogs.
Can it be this easy?
There is no one-fix solution for every dog's anxiety, and anxiety treatments will require a little bit of trial and error, but calming treats may be a great first step to helping you and your dog conquer anxiety. Natural calming remedies are often most effective when used in combination with training, proper socialization, mental stimulation, a well balanced diet and by consulting with your veterinarian as needed. Choose the anxiety relief format that is best for you and your pet. All of our calming treats have recommended feeding guidelines based on your pet's weight. Please follow these directions closely to get the most benefit from the products.
Do you have a success story using natural calming treats with your dog? Share with us below.