by Dr. Dwight Alleyne
It surprises many pet owners to learn that dogs can suffer from anxiety just like us. Sure, they don’t have the same responsibilities we do. But our furry companions find things to stress over even though their life is often so carefree.
Whether from the elements outside, a change in environment or separation from their favorite human, anxiety can create quite a nervous dog.
Many options are available to help your nervous dog deal with their emotions, depending on what triggers them. Common treatment for many dogs involves a pharmaceutical intervention prescribed by a veterinarian. While these drugs can be very effective, some pet owners wish to avoid these types of treatments because of fear of side effects. The good news? Natural options are available. Here are five alternatives to consider if you have an anxious dog.
1. Behavior Modification
It is possible to change behavior related to anxiety through simple procedures and exercises. Though this may not work with every dog, it can be beneficial when used in conjunction with other methods in this article.
Noise seems to be a common cause of anxiety among our canine friends, with thunder and fireworks as the worst culprits. Behavior modification involves playing a recording of these sounds while your dog is in a relaxed environment. The goal is to get your dog used to the sounds so that when the real thing occurs there is less reaction.
Distracting From Anxiety
Distraction techniques are important for helping with separation anxiety. The goal is to distract your dog with toys, television or the radio prior to departing your residence. If the dog is preoccupied with interacting with these things, then the response to you heading to work or out to dinner can be less severe.
Never Trigger a Nervous Dog
As humans, we can be predictable to our pets in our daily routines. As a result, our anxious dogs will detect cues based on our behavior. One key to avoiding triggers is to avoid patterns of activity that may induce anxiety. Leaving the house is a common time when triggers are initiated. Dogs can detect when you are putting on a jacket or shoes, which may trigger an anxiety response. Changing your daily departure patterns regularly may help avoid this.
2. Stress-Reducing Apparel
Apparel for dogs is not only for fashion (or, let’s be real, hilarious Instagram photos) — some pieces of clothing for dogs can help with anxiety, by providing a swaddling effect during times of distress. Dogs who benefit the most from this are the ones who seek close contact when nervous.
Imagine invisible, colorless and odorless signals providing your pet a calming effect. Pheromones play a major role in many species of animals, including dogs. They can give your pet a sense of comfort and belonging.
A synthetic version of these substances can be found in the form of a diffuser and a collar, allowing for continuous release to help calm your dog. The purpose of these is to imitate appeasing pheromones released by nursing mothers, making your dog feel safe and secure.
4. Calming Dog Treats
Calming dog treats contain natural ingredients that are thought to help relieve anxiety. These treats often include ingredients such as L-tryptophan and chamomile, which have both been shown to have a calming effect on dogs. They are a great option for nervous dogs that enjoy treats — which we bet your pup does.
Studies have shown hemp-derived CBD (cannabidiol) may help minimize the symptoms of anxiety and other ailments in dogs. CBD is believed to work on receptors in the brain (part of the endocannabinoid system) that control anxiety and fear in both humans and dogs, so giving your dog a CBD chew or a few drops of a CBD oil tincture may help keep your dog calm and relaxed. Every animal is different, however, so it’s important to consult with your vet before giving your pet any CBD products.
Worrying about your nervous dog isn’t going to help your pup feel better, so start putting a few of these recommendations into place and see how your furry BFF reacts. Likely, you will find something you are comfortable with to help your dog.
Before starting any anxiety treatment for your dog, you should always check with your veterinarian to make sure there are no underlying health issues that may be causing your dog to feel unlike their usual selves.
Now that you have learned ways to calm your dog naturally, check out Heelr’s hemp-derived CBD chews and tinctures. Your nervous dog may thank you.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne is a veterinarian who has over a decade of experience treating cats and dogs. He is also the creator of the Animal Doctor Blog, where he provides general health advice and pet-product reviews.