7 Natural Ways To Reduce Pet Anxiety
A change in routine or exposure to loud or strange noises, among many other causes, can bring about significant changes in your pet’s behaviour.
Behavioural changes can be a strong indication that your pet is stressed by something, says Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“You know your pet best,” says Dr. Coates. “Sometimes the changes you notice are caused by a medical problem, but just like us, pets can experience mental or emotional stress.”
Rather than jumping to the conclusion that medication is necessary to calm your pet’s anxiety, there are many natural remedies that can work, just as well. It just takes a little time to figure out which one(s) your pet responds to the best.
Natural Solutions for Dog Anxiety
As natural and holistic remedies are becoming more and more popular for us humans, the same holds true for canines. Both Dr. Coates and holistic veterinarian Dr. Laurie Coger recommend a visit to your vet first if symptoms are sudden or severe, to allow diagnosis of the root cause of the stress and rule out a more serious medical issue.
If you are happy that it’s not a health issue, these natural stress remedies for pets could be precisely what your dog needs to return to his normal, happy self.
Sometimes, your stress becomes your pet’s stress. If a crazy work schedule means you aren’t taking your dog for the regular walks he’s become accustomed to, he’ll feel anxiety.
The change in routine, the loneliness and the feeling of being cooped up all day are all possible contributors which be eliminated by simply taking your pup outside to stretch his legs and get some fresh air.
A tired dog is a happy dog, and sometimes, the best home remedy for dog anxiety is getting them out of the house and letting them exercise. Even old dogs need regular exercise, as long as it involves activities that are easier on their aging joints.
Maybe therapy for your dog is as simple as 15 minutes of brushing every night. Dr. Coger says it will feel great for your animal, and it’ll be more time he gets to spend with his owner. You will also have an opportunity to observe his skin for excessive licking or abrasions, which could be a sign of something more serious. Numerous studies have shown that grooming your pet can reduce your own stress levels too.
A 2017 study by the Scottish SPCA and the University of Glasgow showed that the right music could be effective in decreasing signs of anxiety in dogs.
The researchers observed groups of dogs with various types of music playing. After a week, they played a different genre of music. They found that soft rock and reggae music were the most effective, but individual dogs had distinct preferences. You can find firework related playlists on YouTube and several radio stations played chill out music for dogs on Bonfire Night!
Playing your pet’s favourite music at a low volume can add another layer of calm to your pet’s environment. But first make sure that your dog does indeed appreciate it by watching your dog's body language.
Vet-Recommended Essential Oils (Used With Caution)
Essential oils can be toxic if ingested, particularly for cats, and you should never apply essential oils directly to your pet.
However, your dog can still benefit from aromatherapy if used properly in a household without cats.
Lavender oil is among the most popular ancient remedies for natural pet stress relief. A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) showed that it can be effective for dogs with a history of travel anxiety before a long car ride. It’s available over-the-counter, and it’s typically innocuous when lightly applied to fabric.
“Just put a drop or two of lavender oil on the corner of the blanket or towel your pet will be resting on,” recommends Dr. Coates.
The Wiser Pet Calming Collar uses a blend of Lavender essential oil and pet pheromones as a solution to anxious pets.
If you have essential oils in your home, make sure they are stored in a location your pet cannot access. Pets are much more sensitive to essential oils than humans, and many of these oils can be toxic and dangerous to pets, especially cats.
Pet owners can treat doggy stress with melatonin, a hormone that naturally rises in the bloodstream when animals sleep, says Dr. Coates. Melatonin may help pets stay calm in the short-term (e.g., for a planned car trip or before a thunderstorm) or can help them sleep better.
Recently, CBD oil and chews for dogs have become available. Be careful however, because there is no regulation about strength or potency, this can be a tricky supplement to utilise effectively.
CBD does not contain THC, the other active ingredient in marijuana, and therefore does drug your pet. When used properly, CBD may help calm your dog, reduce pain and reduce inflammation.
It may be advisable to talk to your veterinarian about the proper dosing for your pet for each of these supplements.
The dog-appeasing pheromone contains a version of the hormone that nursing mothers produce to calm their puppies.
“Species-specific pheromone products can help dogs and cats better handle the stress of everyday life or when specific events, like moving or trips to the veterinarian, threaten their mental well-being,” says Dr. Coates.
Massage and Acupuncture
Anything that makes the body work better will make the brain work better. Some locations on a dog’s body—like the feet, the ears and the top of the head—are natural pressure points where as little as 15 minutes of massaging your pet will make a world of difference for their stress level.
The Wiser Pet range includes Natural Calming Collars for both Smaller and Large Dogs