Calming a dog with anxiety is more important now than at virtually any other time of year. As we roll into October, firework season is only around the corner. Halloween, then Guys Fawkes and before you know it, New Years Eve…. For millions of dogs (and many other pets!) this is a serious issue. There are many ways to try and help your dog through this period, some more effective then others. Indeed some methods just make us feel better about the situation. But they can actually make things worse for your dog! So in the absence of specific behavioural conditioning (which in my opinion is the best route for long term treatment), lets look at things you can do today. These can have a beneficial effect either immediately or in the short term (a matter of weeks).
Remedies to Calm your Anxious Dog
Over the past decade and a half we have stocked a wide range of calming remedies in the shop. Some natural, some synthetic. With the benefit of experience we have fine tuned our offering based on years of customer feedback and research. What follows is a breakdown of some of the different treatments available for calming a dog with anxiety of any sort. Be it a noise phobia, separation anxiety, travel anxiety etc. My hope that is that this will give you a better insight into the options available to help your dog with their anxiety. As always, if you would like to discuss this in more detail, just pop into the shop or give us a call.
Dorwest Herbs Scullcap and Valerian tablets
This is a natural product using active herbs to support the calming pathways within the nervous system. It calms your dog and reduces anxiety without immobilising muscles or causing drowsiness. As a result your dog will not become unsteady on their feet or sleepy. There are actually four key ingredients in these tablets:
- Valerian – helps to support the natural relaxant pathways within the nervous system, without affecting muscles.
- Scullcap – contains a number of valuable compounds including those which bind to the GABA receptor and reduce anxiety.
- Mistletoe – helps to support the natural calming pathways within the nervous system and helps circulation.
- Gentian – supports the other natural active compounds and helps maintain normal liver function.
Perhaps most impressively, Scullcap & Valerian tablets are the only herbal product to be officially authorised by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate to help anxiety and nervousness. In addition they have been helping to calm anxious dogs worldwide for over 50 years! An impressive track record. But before you rush out and buy some there is one important point to note. This treatment is not effective immediately. In other words, there is no point starting to use them a few hours before the fireworks start or just before a car journey. These tablets build up in the system gradually. Over the period of a few weeks they will reach their maximum effectiveness. So for fireworks season, start using them at the beginning of October.
Dorwest Herbs Valerian Compound
Valerian Compound goes hand in hand with Scullcap and Valerian tablets. However it is also a great product for anxiety and nervousness in it’s own right. Being a liquid, it can be given directly into the mouth. It can also be dropped onto a treat or your dog’s food. In addition, the scent of Valerian has calming effects so a few drops on your dog’s bed can bring relief. The really good thing about Valerian Compound is that it works fast, really fast! The treatment is effective within 30 minutes of administration.
Moreover, it can be used in conjunction with the Scullcap and Valerian tablets. As an example, you may find that 90% of the time, your dog is relatively calm and relaxed on the tablets. Ever so often though there could be an extra big firework bang or thunder clap! If so, you can use Valerian Compound as a boost to quickly bring your dog’s anxiety levels back down. Valerian Compound can be given up to twice a day. The effects last about 2 hours once given. Over the years, we have had lots of positive feedback from our customers about both the Valerian Compound as well as the Scullcap and Valerian tablets. Effective in a variety of situations, at home or away.
Pet Remedy produce a range of products all with the same function. To bring calming smells into your pets life! As it works through smell, there is no need for your dog to swallow anything. The main ingredient is once again, our old friend Valerian. But Valerian has brought a few friends to the party:
- Vetiver – known for it’s natural calming properties
- Sweet Basil – often used in aromatherapy for it’s calming effects
- Clary Sage – historically respected as a medicinal plant, particularly in relation to it’s calming influence
Pet Remedy works with the pet’s own natural calming mechanisms by mimicking GABA (gamma amino butyric acid). GABA is a natural calming agent present in all mammals, reptiles, and birds. So when a pet becomes stressed or anxious the Pet Remedy actives help trick fired-up nerve cells into thinking they are getting a message from the brain to calm. This is why it starts to help instantly. Explained by Dr. Flo Watt MRCPsych (Consultant Psychiatrist)
It is available as a handheld spray, plug-in room diffuser, atomiser or individually wrapped pre-moistened wipes. Having stocked Pet Remedy for many years, we have heard countless stories of how it has helped our customers’ pets in all sorts of situations from travel to noise phobias.
Adaptil works through your dog’s nasal receptors. It is effective through smell. It was formerly known as D.A.P. This stands for Dog Appeasing Pheromone. And that is exactly what Adaptil is all about! It is a synthetic version of a pheromone that a mother dog releases from the mammary area to help comfort her pups when they are young. It is a calming and reassuring scent at times of stress or anxiety.
Available as a plug-in diffuser, a hand held spray and a wearable collar. As with some other treatments for anxiety, it can take a bit of time to do it’s work depending on which method you decide to use. When using the plug-in diffuser or collar, the majority of dog owners tend to see results after about a week. However the handheld spray can start to work almost immediately and can reapplied every 4 to 5 hours.
How to calm a dog with anxiety. Support, not Solve.
In a world of quick fixes and instant solutions, it is easy to become disillusioned when results are not instant. This is particularly relevant when it comes to calming a dog with anxiety or stress. Often the causes are deep rooted and behavioural. It can be an unhelpful and unrealistic expectation to believe that any given calming product can bring your dog from a highly stressed state of mind down to a completely relaxed dog in the blink of an eye.
When customers come into the shop asking for help with their nervous, stressed or anxious dog, I am often told of the various symptoms of stress the dog has. For instance barking, whining, shaking, restlessness etc. More often than not, I do believe that any of the above products (as well as many more on the market) can have a beneficial effect. How visible the effect is another thing. It will depend on the individual dog and their interaction with the treatment. There may be times where the treatment could be providing some relief to the dog but not enough to stop their symptoms completely. I would urge owners not to look at this as a product that didn’t work. Instead focus on any small improvements that there may be, no matter how small, and work from there.
Nurturing a dog out of a nervousness, stress or anxiety is a long term process. Whilst the calming treatments mentioned above have the possibility of great and fast results, it is not always the case. Every dog and every situation is different. In addition, though some treatments can work quickly or even immediately, best results will be seen after periods of prolonged use. So in the instance of fireworks season, start using calming products at the beginning of October. This will allow some time for the effect to gradually build.
It is worth remembering that these products can only really be of benefit where the root cause of the problem is stress or anxiety related. Calming products are not a substitute for lack of training or professional behavioural advice. That said, these products can be very beneficial in conjunction with training or behaviour work. Some dogs can be so stressed that they are initially not very receptive to behavioural change. The use of these products can help to alleviate some of that anxiety and stress. As a result they can become more open and responsive to a new, relaxed way of being.
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