Various situations can cause your dog to feel stress and anxiety, including traveling, separation from you, and loud noises such as thunder or fireworks. Dealing with an anxious, nervous or fearful dog can cause frustration, and many owners turn to their veterinarians for medications to address this behavior. Depending on your dog's anxiety level, natural remedies may work just as well as, or better than, their pharmaceutical counterparts, with no side effects or other adverse reactions. Always check with your veterinarian before starting any home-based treatment program, and use your dog's size and anxiety level to determine the best calming option for him.
Calming Your Dog
Create a safe retreat. Give your dog a quiet, safe place to retreat to, and let him calm himself in times of stress and anxiety. Place soft blankets and chew toys in a bedroom corner, a closet or a covered kennel; encourage him to go there when he's feeling anxious or afraid. Check on him periodically, but let him have peace while he's in his safe zone.
Use aromatherapy. Certain scents, such as lavender oil, chamomile and jasmine, are known for their relaxation and stress-relieving qualities. Put a few drops of one of these oils in a diffuser or on a cotton ball and place it near your dog's safe zone to encourage calmness and relaxation. Do not place such objects where the dog can access them, however.
Give your dog natural herbs. Herbal supplements offer the relaxing and calming effects of natural remedies in a convenient pill form. Herbs such as valerian, St. John's wort and avena offer calming effects, and you can give them directly to your dog or mix them in his food. Consult your veterinarian before you use these for proper dosage instructions and any warnings.
Apply gentle pressure. Petting your dog can have a calming effect on him, and simply holding or hugging him can help reduce his stress and anxiety. Wrapping him in a towel has a similar effect, as does using a product called the Thundershirt, which provides constant, gentle pressure to encourage calming.
Use stress-relieving products. Pet product retailers offer multiple forms of natural relaxation products, most of which utilize the relaxing properties of various oils and herbs. Comfort Zone uses dog-appeasing pheromones to encourage calmness, and is available in plug-in or spray delivery systems. Rescue Remedy drops offer a combination of natural scents such as impatiens and clematis to promote relaxation. The calming properties of lavender and valerian are also available in treat form, such as in Ultra-Calm Bites and Healthy Calming Chicken Fillets. Ask your vet before using natural remedies that are to be ingested.
Sometimes temperament changes can indicate a medical problem. Before beginning calming techniques on your pet, take him to your veterinarian for a complete checkup to make sure there are no health issues.
While they may offer calming benefits, many herbs can make your dog, or children, ill if ingested. Keep all herbs, oils and other remedies safely contained in a location that is not accessible by inquisitive children or curious pets.
Before giving your dog new supplements, always consult with your veterinarian to determine the proper dosage or to learn any safety precautions.
If your dog is pregnant or nursing, consult your veterinarian before administering any home treatments.
Remember that a dog's sense of smell is much more sensitive than a human's, and he may not like the scent of certain oils or herbs. Let him smell the oil or herb before you start using it to ascertain whether he'll tolerate the aroma.
All dogs are different; no scent, herb or product will work perfectly on every one. If one treatment doesn't seem to help, try something different until you find the right one for your pet.
Items You Will Need
- Essential oils
- Soft towel
- Chew toys
- Herbal supplements
- Rescue Remedy
- Comfort Zone
- Stress-relieving treats
- Collie Dog on Dog Bed image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com