5 Natural Solutions for Dog Anxiety
Dog owners always want the best for their dogs, including the best foods, toys, walks, and cuddles. But it is also essential to make sure your dog’s mental health is at its best.
Dogs can suffer from anxiety, including by picking up on the anxiety of the humans around them. But there are some safe and effective solutions to help anxiety in dogs. Here are the five most effective natural solutions.
What Is Dog Anxiety?
It may seem far-fetched, but dogs can suffer from anxiety. Fear and anxiety-based problems are quite common in dogs (1).
The People’s Dispensary of Sick Animals Pet Animal Welfare report from 2011 found that 82% of owners reported that their dog was afraid of “something” (2).
One study about dogs with behavioral problems found that 10.3% of these cases resulted from dogs experiencing fear, anxiety, or a phobia. 14% of these cases were due to separation anxiety, and 22% involved fear-related aggression towards people (3).
Anxiety in dogs can manifest in a variety of ways. Because dogs can’t explain that they’re feeling anxious, it’s essential to be familiar with the different behavioral anxiety cues. This will help you identify and improve their anxiety.
Signs that your dog might be anxious include:
- Excessive barking, especially when left alone
- Damaging furniture or excessively digging up your yard
- Excessive urination
- Not eating
- Panting without reason
- Regularly trying to escape
- Self-harm, e.g., excessive biting, itching, licking
Natural Solutions for Dog Anxiety
You can give your dog some effective natural remedies to help lower anxiety levels. These five natural remedies can help your dog feel less stressed.1. CBD
CBD is making a name for itself as an anxiety reducer, and there is some evidence that it could help reduce anxiety in your four-legged friend.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp plants. While CBD is found in cannabis, it is not intoxicating, meaning that you don’t have to worry about CBD getting your dog high.
Research involving humans, mice, and rats shows that CBD can reduce anxiety and stress. CBD was shown to reduce teenagers’ anxiety in one study and had significant antidepressant-like effects in mice (4,5).
However, more research is explicitly needed into the effects of CBD on anxiety in dogs. Research does show that dogs may be ideal candidates for cannabinoid therapy because of the number of cannabinoid receptors found in dogs (6). CBD is effective in treating osteoarthritis and seizures in dogs, indicating that CBD’s anxiety-reducing qualities could also be useful when used on dogs (7,8).
2. Herbal Supplements and Treats
Adding anxiety-reducing supplements into your dog’s diet is another easy way to help reduce their stress.
There are many powders, formulas, and treats containing anxiety-reducing ingredients that you can easily give to your dog.
These are some anxiety-reducing ingredients that are safe for dogs:
- Chamomile (9)
- Peppermint (10)
- St. John’s Wort (11)
- Valerian Root (12)—This can be mildly sedative, so consult your vet before use and avoid if your dog is a puppy, elderly, or has serious health issues
This anxiety-reducing tip is an easy one; simply pat your dog!
Studies have shown that massage therapy can increase dopamine and serotonin levels, which are important in reducing stress and anxiety (13).
Evidence also indicates that massage therapy may cause the same anxiety and stress-reducing effects in animals like dogs. Massaging your dog could improve their muscles, circulatory system, and autonomic nervous system, as well as their mental health (14).
Massaging your dog can help your dog relax, plus who doesn’t love a cuddle with their dog?
This may sound a little crazy, but the evidence backs up that music can help your dog relax.
A 2017 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior investigated the effects of music on 38 kennelled dogs (15). They tested five genres, including soft rock, Motown, pop, reggae, and classical. The study found that relative to being kennelled in the quiet, the dogs had significantly reduced stress levels and more relaxed behavior when listening to soft rock and reggae music. However, all the genres resulted in positive behaviors and physiological changes.
So put on some Bob Marley and watch your dog relax!
Regular exercise is another thing you can do to keep your dog’s anxiety levels down.
Exercise and anxiety in dogs are linked. One study found that the largest environmental factor associated with the canine anxiety conditions, besides noise sensitivity and separation anxiety, was the amount of exercise the dogs received (16). The study found that dogs with noise sensitivity and separation anxiety received less daily exercise than dogs without the conditions.
Going on walks and playing games like fetch and frisbee can help your dog’s anxiety.
The Bottom Line
Anxiety can seriously impact your dog’s quality of life. If you’re struggling with what to do for your dog with anxiety, there are many effective natural solutions.
Whether you use supplements, go for more walks, or start playing more reggae music, there’s an anxiety-reducing option that will work for you and your dog.