Updated: May 7
While not all dogs experience daily anxiety, many will experience nervousness at some point in their lives. Of course we know when our pets are happy, we can see their tails wagging and playful behavior. But can you tell when they are feeling anxious? Anxiety doesn’t discriminate, it can affect all breeds and all ages but the symptoms can look very different depending on the dog. One thing is for sure, anxiety can stop your pet from enjoying their normal daily activities. The first step in easing their stress is recognizing the signs:
· Excessive crying, whining or barking
· Shaking or trembling
· Uncontrolled urination or bowel movements
· Tail between the legs
· Hiding or withdrawing
· Excessive licking or biting
· Engaging in destructive behavior
· Panting or yawning
Treating anxiety can be tricky and difficult to understand but luckily there are many natural options available that can bring relief without causing our beloved pets harm. You might be wondering what the problem is with conventional treatments anyway? To begin with, anti-anxiety medications are just a Band-Aid. It will not get to the root of the problem and fix it; it will only mask the issue. Plus, most pets have to take the medication for weeks before any possible changes are seen and most will require a life long treatment. But it's the long list of harmful side effects that are truly frightening:
· Increase or decrease in appetite
· Increased urination
· Upset stomach
· Liver damage
· Skin disorders
That long list of side effects is exactly why we recommend natural supplements. It's important to understand that what works for one dog may not work for the other and there isn't one magic answer to easing your pet's stress; don't be afraid to try one (or several) solutions to find what works best for you and your pet. Some natural alternatives include:
1. Herbs: Herbs are excellent in calming nervous dogs suffering from anxiety. They are mild and non-addictive, and they do not cause drowsiness after use. Even better, some nervous-calming herbs are super nutritious, providing additional support to our dogs' nervous system.
· Passion Flower- has a long medicinal history and its great claim to fame is its calming effect. It is a mild sedative, pain reliever and promotes a sense of calm.
· Chamomile- hands down the most commonly used herb for sleep and relaxation. Reduces anxiety, calms the nerves and stomach, has mild sedative effects.
· St. John's Wort- known for its anti-depressant qualities in humans. Commonly used for separation anxiety, fear based anxiety such as fireworks, and phobias. Has a calming effect.
· Valerian- the most widely recognized herbal sedative. Safe and gentle, promotes relaxation, and reduces excitability. Treats a wide range of anxiety from hyperactivity, tension, restlessness and insomnia.
2. Alternative Medicine: The use of alternative medicine is booming because of it's many health benefits which includes managing stress and anxiety. This typically works fairly quickly and is excellent for situational anxiety. For example, if you know fireworks are going to happen, administer the oil about 30 minute prior.
3. Essential Oils: There's a lot of debate when it comes to essential oil for pets, especially with cats! Therefore, this recommendation is for your dogs only. While many people apply essential oils topically to their pets, we prefer diluting the oil and defusing it, which is the most common way to receive the benefits of aromatherapy. Some of the best oils for relieving stress and anxiety are:
· Sweet orange
Lastly, did you know that diet could contribute to stress and anxiety? Emotional, behavioral and nervous disorders can absolutely result from nutritional deficiencies. Low quality foods can contain by-products, fillers, preservatives, and chemicals that add color. These types of ingredients can cause the development of many health issues. There is a clear link between a well-balanced, biologically appropriate diet and behavior. The best approach starts with a diet change and supplementing with vitamins and minerals. The right balance of good quality nutrition can help with stress levels and the better quality the food, the better their physical and mental health will be. Not only does the quality of the food matter, but the amount of food plays a role as well. Over feeding can also cause stress! Being over weight, feeling sluggish, having poor gut health, and putting a strain on the joints can absolutely lead to a change in behavior. So ask yourselves these questions: Am I feeding high quality food? Is my dog over weight? Am I feeding the right amount of food?
You may also be able to alleviate some stress and anxiety by adding certain foods to your pet’s bowl. Some foods act as a stimulant and some have a calming influence. Simple additions can have huge benefits:
· Blueberries, kale, sweet potatoes- offer tons of vitamins/minerals/antioxidants, which helps with the effects of stress.
· Beef- a natural anti-depressant, loaded with B vitamins which is great for anxiety
· Turkey- good source of L-Tryptophan, the amino acid associated with sleep
· Oily fish- omega 3 fatty acids are extremely important for mental health and brain health. Contains Vitamin A & D that help with stress.
*Please know that The Better Beagle Co. is here to help with any questions or concerns you may have. Your pet’s health and happiness is very important to us! Of course before anything, we recommend consulting with your Veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issue that may be influencing a change in your pet's behavior.