It’s not uncommon for dogs to get stressed during fireworks or thunderstorms, get nervous at the vet, or experience separation anxiety when their owner is away.
Fortunately, whether Fido experiences situational fear and anxiety or a mental health issue, there are several options for pet owners looking to soothe their anxious dogs.
Types of Dog Anxiety
Before you implement new ingredients or practices into your dog’s routine, try to figure out which type of anxiety he is dealing with. Helping your pup calm down on car rides won’t exactly solve the issue with separation anxiety; implementing behavior-related changes won’t help if the anxiety is a product of a health issue.
If your pooch starts showing signs of distress when you grab your keys and jacket and wreaks havoc in your house while you’re away, he may be struggling with separation anxiety.
Some pet owners misdiagnose their dog’s separation anxiety as simply bad behavior. Separation anxiety is more than mischievous behavior born out of boredom or a need for attention, though. Instead, your pup is feeling legitimately panicked at the idea of being alone and acts out as a result.
Also known as social anxiety or noise anxiety, fear-related anxiety refers to anything that makes your dog feel scared and stressed. This could include having too many strangers in the house, fireworks or thunderstorms, a trip to the vet, or anything else that might make your dog feel uneasy.
If a dog is feeling scared and doesn’t have a safe place to escape to, his anxiety might turn into aggression.
Also called behavioral anxiety, generalized anxiety has no obvious cause. If a dog’s anxiety is a big part of his personality, he likely has generalized or behavioral anxiety.
This type of dog anxiety can also be illness-related—sometimes anxiety is a byproduct of an underlying health issue, rather than the issue itself.
Natural Remedies to Help With Anxiety
Fortunately, there are several ingredients, tools, and practices that you can use if your dog is dealing with anxiety (once you have a good idea of your dog’s triggers and have ruled out any underlying health issues, of course).
Some of our favorite remedies include:
Exercise is just as important for mental health as it is for physical health. Pent-up energy can turn into stress and anxiety, and your dog may end up chewing on your furniture or digging up your yard as a result.
Daily walks and playtime are a perfect way to spend some quality time with your furry friend while boosting his physical and mental health.
Mental stimulation is a great way to keep your dog’s mind sharp and occupied.
If your dog is feeling especially anxious around a group of other people or animals, one soothing method is to take your dog to a calm, quiet area where the two of you can go through some familiar commands and tricks. Dogs are creatures of habit, and it can be calming for a dog to know exactly how to respond to what you say, and predict what will come next (especially if it’s a treat).
Dogs instinctively seek den-like spaces as protective shelters, and crate training is a great way to provide your dog with a calming safe space.
A crate should always be accessible to your dog, especially during times when he may want to escape—a large gathering at your house, for example. It’s important that a crate is an option for your dog to use independently. Forcing an anxious dog into a crate against his will may only exacerbate the situation; he will see it as more of a confining cage than a protective shelter.
Music can have a calming effect on humans and dogs alike. Researchers have found that genres such as reggae, soft rock, smooth jazz, and classical music can be calming for dogs. It can be especially helpful for comforting a dog who is experiencing separation anxiety while you’re gone.
Of course, before you let the music play in your absence, play it for Fido while you’re home to make sure he actually does like it. You don’t want to leave him alone with sounds that are adding to his stress.
Spend some quality time pampering your pooch to help relieve his anxiety. We all know how much dogs lots being pet, so naturally, a massage takes it a step further. The top of the head, feet, and ears are natural pressure points, so rubbing them can help to relieve your dog’s stress.
Grooming can be a notoriously stressful time for pets, but there are ways to turn it into a predictable, relaxing part of your dog’s routine. If your dog is feeling too anxious to sit comfortably while being brushed, don’t force it. Take a break and try again later. Grooming and pampering should be a relaxing time for your pet.
Of course, we can’t forget about those puppy cuddles after a long day. Petting your pup can be soothing for both you and your furry friend.
Melatonin is a hormone that occurs naturally while animals sleep. Melatonin can also be taken while awake in the form of supplements to calm a dog during stressful situations.
Be sure to avoid giving Fido any melatonin supplements that contain Xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.
Chamomile and valerian root are soothing herbal remedies used to calm anxiety. Chamomile helps with relaxation and soothing an upset stomach, and valerian can help to calm the nerves. Passionflower can also be used as a sleep aid.
Essential oils such as lavender and lemon balm can be helpful when it comes to calming your dog’s anxiety. Add a few drops of vet-approved essential oils to coconut oil, or if you don’t have pet-friendly oil, stick to aromatherapy.
Hemp Seed Oil vs. CBD Oil
CBD oil is a popular product among some pet owners because it can help soothe and calm dogs with anxiety.
Hemp seed oil, on the other hand, has different effects. While it comes from the same plant, its benefits are different: it can help to soothe itchy skin and its fatty acids help to support a healthy immune system.
Pet Honesty’s Calming Chews
Pet Honesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews use a combination of natural ingredients including melatonin, chamomile, hemp seed oil, and valerian root to promote calmness and help with anxiety in dogs. Plus, they’re delicious!