If you have an anxious four-legged canine friend then you might be wondering if there are any homeopathic remedies for dog anxiety. While not a substitute for veterinary or behavioral advice, these alternative remedies might help to ease your dog’s anxiety. This article will take a closer look at some of the different over-the-counter remedies and help you decide what is best for your dog. Remember never to introduce anything new to your dog’s diet without first consulting a veterinarian, just in case it isn’t suitable for your dog.
Why Do Dogs Experience Anxiety?
Anxiety can be common in dogs and is often normal behavior in a worrying situation. For many dogs though, anxiety can be a real problem and starts to affect their quality of life. Different dogs may experience anxiety in response to different situations. Examples include separation anxiety, fear anxiety (for example, due to loud noises), social anxiety (in response to encounters with other dogs or strangers), disturbance of their regular routine (for example, a new baby in the house), or aging anxiety (often due to deterioration of senses such as hearing and sight).
How Do I Know If My Dog is Anxious?
Dogs experiencing anxiety may demonstrate one or more of the following signs:
- Trembling or shaking
- Vocalization such as barking, whining, or whimpering
- Panting excessively
- Tail tucked under the body
- Dilated pupils
- Ears flat against the head
- Displacement behaviors such as licking, yawning or rolling over
- Inappropriate urination/defecation
- Destructive behavior
- Aggressive behavior
Of course, these signs can also be symptoms of other diseases, so if you aren’t sure, talk to a veterinarian for advice.
What Homeopathic Remedies Can I Give to Help My Dog’s Anxiety?
Homeopathic remedies often only have anecdotal evidence to support their use so remember that any of these remedies may or may not work, or they may only work for certain dogs or in specific situations. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing anything new to your dog’s diet, in case it could be harmful, or just isn’t suitable for your furry friend. Let’s take a closer look at some of the more popular homeopathic remedies for dog anxiety.
Herbs are widely used in human homeopathic remedies and can have similar properties in dogs too.
This is often drunk as a bedtime tea by humans because it can have properties that help with relaxation. It can be given as tea, a capsule, or fresh ground powder that is added to your dog’s food.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
This is sometimes referred to as a herbal sedative. It may help to encourage physical relaxation so is sometimes used before a stressful event such as fireworks or if your dog suffers from separation anxiety. Valerian is the main ingredient in Pet Remedy, which is a commercially available product that has been shown to decrease stress levels in pets. It comes as either a plug-in diffuser, spray, or wipes.
St. John’s Wort
This can sometimes act as a calming agent and may be useful if administered for fear anxiety in dogs.
Essential oils such as lavender and violet leaf can have calming properties and may help to alleviate your dog’s anxiety. There are many different kinds available and they are often used as a blend. Always use essential oils at the correct dilution and never use them near the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or genitals. Remember that dogs have a very sensitive sense of smell so not all dogs will like essential oils. Do not use them if your dog appears uncomfortable. Some essential oils are toxic to dogs, so it’s important to research thoroughly before using an essential oil for anxiety.
Cannabidiol (CBD oil) is given to dogs for a variety of reasons, including to help alleviate anxiety. There are cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, including in the brain. It is thought that CBD oil can help promote the release of serotonin. Serotonin is an important hormone produced by the body that stabilizes emotion and creates a happy mood.
Bach flower essences
These are named after Edward Bach, who discovered that certain types of flower essence can help to promote relaxation and relieve stress. Rescue Remedy is a pre-made blend of five Bach flower essences that could help alleviate your dog’s anxiety.
How to Use Homeopathic Remedies
- Remember that some dogs might be allergic to certain substances. Always introduce a very small amount to start with and monitor your dog closely for any adverse reactions. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, swellings, excessive salivation, or difficulty breathing. Seek immediate veterinary attention if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog as allergic reactions can be life-threatening.
- Always use homeopathic remedies from a trusted source.
- Be sure to consult your veterinarian before starting any homeopathic remedies, just in case they could be harmful to your dog or interfere with an existing condition.
- Never use homeopathic remedies in the place of a veterinary-prescribed medication as this could be dangerous for your dog.
- Test your chosen remedy when your dog is not anxious or stressed to ensure that he can tolerate it and it doesn’t make him more uncomfortable.
- Remember, there is no substitute for advice from a veterinarian or veterinary-recommended behaviorist and any remedy will work best alongside a behavior modification plan.
Are there other ways I can help my dog’s anxiety without giving him medication?
Create a covered “den” for your dog that he can escape to and hide in if he chooses. This can be anywhere where your dog feels safe, he may even have a place he chooses to go to already. A specially-designed anti-anxiety dog bed is perfect for use in your dog’s den.
You could also try an anxiety vest such as the ThunderShirt. These fit snuggly around your dog’s body and can help to lower stress levels, in much the same way that swaddling a baby does.
Frequently Asked Questions
What natural remedy can I give my dog for anxiety?
Several different natural remedies can help with dog anxiety, including herbs, essential oils, and flower essences. Always consult your veterinarian before introducing anything new to your pet.
What is a natural sedative for a dog?
Valerian is considered to have natural sedative properties. It is available pre-formulated as “Pet Remedy” as either a plug-in diffuser, spray, or wipes.
There are several homeopathic anti-anxiety remedies available on the market, but it’s important to remember that these methods are not scientifically proven. If your dog is suffering from anxiety, it’s best to consult a veterinarian, who can look for medical causes before referring you to a canine behaviorist.