As dogs are social and perceptive creatures just like us, they are also prone to getting anxious and stressed. That’s why we spend so much time talking about issues relating to dog anxiety here at The Natural Doggie. Our doggie parents have spoken, and we listened.
Anxiety in dogs can be triggered by a wide variety of reasons – ranging from extreme noise and movement to separation and abandonment. While anxiety is largely situational, most often than not, it is also dictated by your dog’s breed and personality. Regardless of what triggers your dog’s fears, phobias or anxieties, they all express it through destructive behavior such as hostility, aggression, incessant chewing, constant barking, excessive licking or scratching and eliminating indoors even if they are housebroken.
Although most veterinarians nowadays are quick to prescribe medication for treating dogs’ anxieties, a lot of them have also been promoting the use of herbal remedies for a more holistic approach to treatment. And goodness knows, that’s what we’re a fan of here!
Yet, before you even start talking about treatment, it is important to know the source of your dog’s anxiety. The source, most of the time, dictates what the treatment should be. By pinpointing what it is exactly that causes your dog to exhibit these undesirable behaviors, you are better poised to discover an herbal remedy that will definitely soothe your dog’s nerves.
The sources of canine anxiety are not any different from ours. It often stems from the fear of being left alone and confinement, as well as sudden changes in environment or routine.
Herbal remedies for anxiety
Depending on what triggers your dog’s anxiety, there are many different kinds of herbal remedies you can give them to calm them down and relieve the symptoms. The best way to figure this out for your specific pooch is to consult with your holistic vet. This can be costly though, and there are options for those cost conscious readers who also want to do the upmost best for their doggies.
Some dogs experience anxiety when their human parents step out of their front doors. This is especially common among dogs who do not get enough attention and playtime, and among dogs who have not been socialized properly as puppies.
John’s Wort is highly recommended to treat separation anxiety. It can be mixed in the dog’s food or water, or can be applied as a topical ointment. It is most effective when used in conjunction with Valerian and Astragalus. As it is a mild anti-depressant, it shouldn’t be used continuously for extended periods of time.Because of its sedative properties, Valerian is known to reduce tension. It can be administered as a capsule or as a powder, and should not also be used over long periods of time.
Because of its sedative properties, Valerian is known to reduce tension. It can be administered as a capsule or as a powder, and should not also be used over long periods of time.
Considered an ancient Chinese herb, Astragalus has immune-strengthening properties that make it a good complement with either St. John’s Wort and Valerian, or both. Unlike the other herbs, it doesn’t bring about negative side-effects when used over a long period of time.
These same herbal remedies are also effective for dogs who experience confinement anxiety. This type of anxiety is especially common among dogs who are crated and are not allowed to freely roam around the home.
Yet, dogs also typically get nervous when they are not in control of what’s happening in their environments. Their anxieties can be triggered when there are unusually loud noises or when there are strangers around them. This is a result of poor socialization that should have happened when they were younger. Unfortunately, behaviors arising as a result of stress and fear are not that easy to correct, but they can be tempered by using different types of herbal remedies.
Oats are highly effective in calming nerves. Plus, not only do they help induce sleep, they are also very nutritious as well! The best part is: You can easily make oatmeal by stirring oats with warm water, and include this as a staple in your dog’s diet.
Chamomile is also widely known for its calming effects and can be given as a tea or mixed in your dog’s food. Apart from reducing stress, it also induces relaxation and sleep.
Rhododendron herb is a Nepalese plant that only grows in the higher elevations of the Himalayan And while it is rare, it is very effective in calming your dog’s nerves. It can be steeped into a tea, or you can also rub its aromatic oils directly on your dog’s skin. Lemon balm also works well as a sedative herb that is effective in treating dog anxiety. Plus, it also helps in treating excitability, if your dog is one of those canines that either gets too excited or too anxious.
All of these herbs are safe to consume over a long period of time. You can even include them as part of your dog’s diet, if you’d like to see more lasting results. Apart from using these herbs as part of your holistic approach to treating your dog’s anxiety, you can also use the following essential oils as a topical application directly on your dog’s skin or poured into a container and used as aromatherapy: frankincense, lavender, rose, coriander, clove, spearmint, geranium, balsam fir, juniper, sage, cedar-wood and ginger.
It is important to be aware that herbal remedies generally take longer to show results. As such, you should have realistic expectations about using herbal remedies for anxiety treatment. You should not expect them to work overnight and make your dog calm right away. Yet, most of them are safe enough to be used for long periods of time. They also show very little to no side effects, which make them better choice than most pharmaceuticals available in the market.
The best way to maximize the effect of herbal treatments is to combine them with regular training and conditioning. For dogs that experience separation anxiety, positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping them get over their fear of being left alone. Usually, the reason why they’ve developed this fear is due to neglect and not having their emotional needs met. By providing them with herbal remedies and spending time with them through regular training, you can really eliminate their anxiety for good.
However, as some dogs are just simply antsy and anxious in their general disposition, it’s not enough to just give them natural solutions and provide them with positive reinforcement. They may need long-term training, desensitization and conditioning to be able to cope with their day-to-day lives and get over their fears for good. That and some TLC & understanding from the ones who love them most.