Tips to Help Soothe Your Dog’s Anxiety

Tips to Help Soothe Your Dog’s Anxiety

Anxiety…. it creeps up on you, doesn’t it? Recently, I experienced an anxiety ridden moment. Something thought conquered can rear it’s head and, wham! So like any highly functioning adult, I went to happy hour and wine’d about it. But is that truly what I should have done? Maybe some yoga, meditation, or hypnotherapy would have been a wiser choice. Unlike us humans, dogs are not in control of some of their choices – so when our dogs suffer from anxiety, we are their stewards for a healthier life. Wine won’t cut it for dogs. Here are some tips to help soothe your dog’s anxiety.

Signs Your Dog Has Anxiety

How much a dog was socialized as a puppy has a lot to do with who he is today. Just like kids. If a child isn’t exposed to different types of healthy stimulation and challenges, then facing them as a young adult can create stress…both good and bad stress. The prime time for anxiety management in dogs on average starts at six months and a goes until about a year and a half old. Even older dogs who experience a trauma are prone to developing anxiety.

Howling, pacing and panting are often associated with anxiety in a dog. Growling can also be a sign your dog is anxious, and even yawning when your dog is not tired can be an indicator. My personal favorite is barking and then retreating. Mookie, our male Shih Tzu, likes that one…he has a particular affinity for it when bicyclist are pedaling by during our mid-day walk. For some odd reason he is stressed out by their fast wheels – triggering a more visceral fight or flight action in him. One, more than likely, truism about dogs and anxiety: veterinary visits. Don’t worry, we’ve got a few tips for quick and easy anxiety ‘be-goners’ when you need something that works fast.

Tips To Soothe Your Dog’s Anxiety

Tips to Help Soothe Your Dog's Anxiety, by Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle GuruIf your dog suffers from life altering anxiety (frequent and uncontrollable shaking and shivering, completely shutting down,  or non-stop lunging interlaced with barking and nipping), then a long-term approach is needed and should include behavior modification for you and your pooch. Sometimes a dog gets anxious because we’re anxious – dog’s dig it when we are confident and assured. But, for those normal, daily anxiety moments (like vet visits) rest assured there are some easy things you can do right now to help your stressed out pup.

Protein: You’ll want to make sure that your dog is getting high quality protein. The type of protein your dog consumes does make a difference. The less energy food takes to break down and convert to fuel, the easier on the body (e.g. minimizes the metabolic stress on your dog’s body). Protein as close to its’ whole state the better: your dog requires 22 different amino acids, and only makes 11 of them, thus nutrition plays a key role in building/creating the other 11 ‘essential’ amino acids. The more processed a dog’s food is, the less nutritional value and the harder his body has to work in less than ideal conditions. Same is true for humans.

Serotonin: Do you know why when you eat turkey you get a bit relaxed? Tryptophan! It’s a serotonin pre-curser, and tryptophan does the same thing for dogs…helps make them all chill. When your dog consumes tryptophan, his little body converts it to serotonin (a neurotransmitter) and it provides an anti-anxiety and calming effects. There are a number of ways to add tryptophan to your pup’s diet including chewable tablets, however we’ve found it in kefir which also provides our dogs with pre and probiotics, powerhouses of gut health! Store bought kefir tends to have sugar, so we make our own (feel free to use our Amazon affiliate link to purchase a kefir making kit).

Chamomile Tea: Tea? Yup, you bet – most dogs can drink cooled chamomile tea, and to make things easy we simply pour it into our pup’s water bowl. Chamomile is great when your pup needs a little help due to known anxiety triggers like travel, groomers or vet visits, nail trims and the like. Chamomile has been safely used for centuries to help relax muscles and treat anxiety, and can be your dog’s go-to item during stressful times. You’ll want to get organic, fertilizer and herbicide-free tea leaves for your dog (here’s the chamomile tea we use, again from our Amazon store)

Tips To Help Soothe Your Dog's Anxiety, by Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDogHomeopathic: Our dogs have incredible, and measurable, outcomes with homeopathic treatments – particularly when we’re seeking anxiety relief. Known as nanopharmacology, homeopathic remedies use extremely small (nano) doses of active ingredients to provide powerful and beneficial therapeutic outcomes. Bach Rescue Remedy, around for nearly 100 years, has used very specific native plant flowers to help return health where it is needed – and the pet formula is made specifically to address your companion animal’s stress. We use Bach Rescue Remedy Pet for vets visits, and recently we used it when we had ‘strangers’ at our house doing renovation work – our pups remained calm and were easy to handle.  Just 2 – 4 drops in your pup’s water bowl and you’ll see a noticeable difference. Ingredients:

  • Star of Bethlehem (orithogalum umbellatum): Helps animals that have experienced abuse, trauma and shock, whether experienced recently or in the past. Helps the animal let go of the trauma and enjoy life.
  • Rock Rose (helianthemum): For situations in which the animal experiences panic or terror such as an accident, going to the vet, thunderstorm or fireworks.
  • Cherry Plum (prunus cerasifera): Helps animals who seem to have lost control of their actions such as constant barking, scratching or licking.
  • Impatiens (Impatiens gladulifera): Helps those animals who are impatient and can’t wait for for their meal or going for a walk.
  • Clematis (Clematis vitalba): For animals who seems to be sleeping too much and not really paying attention to what’s going on around them.
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Tips to Help Soothe Your Dog's Anxiety, by Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDog

We’re more alike than different!

Not all dogs have the same stress or anxiety triggers, and honestly some dogs just run a bit more anxious than others (and some dogs get depressed). We’ve adopted 8 dogs so far and each one is unique – that’s why we’ve discovered a few different things that can help our pup’s stress. As humans we learn techniques to help us cope with anxiety – you can do this with your pup as well, but first the goal is to decrease the amount of adrenaline zooming around in your dog’s body. Once the fight or flight triggers are better managed then you and your dog can explore a variety of different training, including behavior modification if needed. This summer we’re starting this type of training with Mookie – we’re looking forward to getting him more comfortable with all of the fun and exciting things the world can spring upon us.

I hope you are able to use these tips – they have helped us with our anxious pooch!

Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDogThanks for reading, and until next time – take care and keep on lovin’ your dog! MattieDog A little dog making a big impact in this world, MattieDog, social media superstar, animal advocate, animal author


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17 Comments

  1. Great tips. On the food note, food also has an energetic to it, it will either warm or cool the body. Dogs with anxiety or outbursts usually do well with a more cooling diet. Examples of warming proteins are chicken, lamb, goat and venison. Cooling proteins include duck, rabbit and cold water fish. 😉

    Reply
    • So true Tonya! Great suggestions. Cooling proteins also help animals with arthritis and other inflammatory issues.

      Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing these great tips – for both humans and dogs! I really want to learn more about essential oils. I need to find a class.

    Reply
  3. Great post! Beau is timid by nature and so we worked a lot on desensitizing him. He’s so much better. I’ve recommended the Bach’s Rescue Remedy before but I do like straight up Lavender essential oil as well and use oils for a number of things with my dogs. One other thing that may help long term anxiety is regular sports massage. I have a lot of clients that I see due to muscle pull or injury and it ends up helping their minds to relax as well.

    Reply
  4. This is an important topic, and I love the tips. Thanks for sharing these. Being upset affects the whole body, so it’s important not only to recognize the signs, but know what to do.

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  5. Great tips, but I wasn’t aware of the tea for dogs, very interesting to read that!! I know a lot of people have success with Rescue Remedy, but none of my animals ever responded to it. What has worked wonders for my dog Red is a CD called Through a Dog’s Ear. She would literally calm down and be sleeping in a minute or two. Check it out and see what you think, it really is a wonder.
    Hindy Pearson recently posted…Senior Dog QuotesMy Profile

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  6. Great tips! We have a dog who suffers from anxiety occasionally and have found that Melatonin and Valerian Root help a lot too.

    Reply
  7. We love Bach Flower Remedies they are part of our cat health regimen. Oak was good for our senior Little ‘Un, and it is good to see you define what specific ones are good for, dog owners will appreciate this.

    Anxiety is no fun for people, it must be tough for dogs too.
    Dash Kitten Crew recently posted…NotSo Wordless Wednesday with BlogPaws MemoriesMy Profile

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  8. Wow. This is interesting. It’s amazing how similar both we as humans and dogs react to anxiety solutions. I had no idea chamomile tea and tryptophan works to calm dogs the same way it does for us humans. Neat post. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  9. Awesome tips! I love how you included tips for both humans and dogs. I haven’t seen any signs of anxiety with Simba, but will definitely keep these tips in mind!

    Reply
  10. Great post, and I feel good LOL that actually I am doing it all right with her, but I do spray lavender on her bed etc just to keep her more relaxed during fireworks or like at moment the drills from the builders in our building, only problem lavender is making me sleepy BOL

    Reply
  11. These are some great tips. I wonder if they would help Theo on his walks, he can be reactive to strangers and dogs.

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  12. Great tips for both dogs and humans! I tend to have anxiety attacks and have slowly over the years learned coping mechanisms. Knowing our pets don’t have this ability makes it even more important for us to assist them.
    Sweet Purrfections recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

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  13. wow … I never thought of chamomile for pets! that is news to me and I love being able to do something holistic! Thanks.

    Reply
  14. This is an amazing resource! We used a lot of homeopathy and essential oils. I never thought of chamomile tea for dogs! I will have to try it out the next time we need to manage anxiety.

    Reply
  15. Our vet has suggested chamomile tea . Do you make up a fresh batch everyday or does it keep in the fridge?

    Reply
  16. It makes sense that chamomile helps with anxiety but it’s great to hear it can also be safely used for dogs. The versatility and application of this herb never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

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