Dogs, like people, experience anxiety for many reasons. The foundation beneath this emotion can be complex and deep-rooted. Common anxiety treatments include prescription anti-anxiety medications and behavior modification. The symptoms of anxiety include urinating inappropriately, chewing, panting, trembling, snapping, growling and crouching when a person or another animal approaches it. Alternative treatments for anxiety are gaining popularity. Making home remedies to help treat your dog’s anxiety is easy and inexpensive. And because these remedies are natural, side effects are less of a concern.
1. Determine if something in your dog’s environment is triggering the anxiety. It’s possible that the dog’s anxiety is just a normal emotion he is experiencing. One example is the case where a new dog or cat is introduced to the dog’s home. Upon meeting the new pet, a dog might be anxious. Anxiety often abates with time, provided he is given enough attention and the new animal does not exhibit any aggressive or negative behavior toward the dog. It’s important to consider that what may be perceived to a dog owner as anxiety may simply be an unrealistic expectations about canine behavior on the part of the dog owner. It’s unrealistic, for example, for you to expect your dog to sit calmly and quietly in the park while everyone else’s dog is running and playing.
2. Purchase several calming essential oils and see how your dog responds to them. Some oils that can have a soothing effect on dogs–and on humans–include lavender, neroli, marjoram, rose, sweet orange and vanilla. Dilute a few drops of the oil in about 2 tbsp. olive oil and apply some to the dog’s neck and chest. You can also mix and match different blends of these oils until you achieve the desired calming effect. Adding a few drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy to your dog’s food can also help calm your dog.
3. Certain herbs can also help calm your dog’s nerves. A 300-mg valerian capsule can help soothe a medium-size dog. Use 150 mg for smaller dogs and up to 600 mg for larger dogs. Other effective herbs to try include skullcap, kava, chamomile and St. John’s Wort. Try mixing a crushed tablet or capsule in the dog’s food. Or if this does not work, you can purchase “Pill Pockets.” These treats contain a pocket in which you can tuck medicine or a few sprigs of dried or fresh herbs. Their strong flavor disguises the flavor of the enclosed remedy.
4. Some foods can exacerbate anxiety in dogs, while others can help calm your pet. As a rule, it’s best to feed your dog only food with ingredients that you can pronounce, like chicken, turkey, etc. Avoid foods with synthetic preservatives, meals and byproducts. These are usually highly toxic and can intensify your dog’s anxiety as well as put him at risk for a host of other diseases, including cancer and skin problems. Adding a spoonful of cooked oats to your dog’s food can also help calm him. Oatmeal is thought to have relaxation-inducing properties.
5. Be aware of your own stress level. Dogs are sensitive creatures and pack animals by nature. If your stress level is high, it can affect dogs in your “pack.” If you are feeling stressed, do what you need to do to relax. Take a warm bath, meditate, practice yoga, get a massage, exercise (take your dog for a long walk) and partake of the same essential oils that you use on your pet. Once you calm down, chances are that your dog will, too.