If your dog’s nervous behavior has you searching for the best calming supplements for anxious dogs, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ll go over some of the most commonly recommended vitamins, amino acids, and other natural anxiety remedies for your canine pal. First, though, let’s go over some of the basics that you need to know before you start shopping, starting with what anxiety looks like in dogs.
Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety in Dogs
A dog’s life is fraught with anxiety, just like a human’s. It is a common psychological disorder studied in both pet dogs and working dogs but is mostly unrecognized or misdiagnosed by owners.
The condition occurs due to various reasons, from environmental factors to hormonal imbalances, from genetics to the presence of an underlying disease. However, separation, noise, and changes in their environment are the most common reasons dogs feel anxious.
Their body language will be the ultimate reflection of their uneasy situation. If your dog is acting edgy, you may notice their behavior changes.
Anxiety in dogs may express as a range of behaviors, including:
- Excessive drooling
Anxious seizures may also occur (these seizures are different from true epilepsy, which affects less than 1% of dogs). Dogs with anxiety may also exhibit more hostile behaviors, so taking your pet to the vet is essential if he’s not behaving normally.
Once you rule out medical conditions, you can start to look into natural ways to treat your dog’s anxiety. There are several alternative remedies to help anxious dogs relax. However, in case of prolonged and high-functioning anxiety, most veterinarians advise treating our pets with calming aids.
There are many different remedies and medications for dogs, each containing a unique blend of ingredients. They can be in diverse forms, such as:
- Chewable and oral supplements
- Compression jackets (like the Thundershirt)
- Pheromone activated diffusers and collars
- Interactive toys
- Dog food with calming supplements
- Prescription medications
Different forms vary in efficacy, but all have promoted relaxation and reduced anxiety. But before giving your beloved dogs any medication, consult a veterinarian and do research first. Now, let’s look at the typical ingredients you see when getting your dogs’ relaxation and anti-stress and anxiety supplements.
Best Calming Supplements for Anxious Dogs
Rather than just giving you a list of brands to try, I thought it would make more sense to tell you what ingredients to look for. That way, you’re not limited to just a few ideas of what I prefer and instead can find something that fits your dog’s needs and budget.
Don’t worry, though; I shared one great recommendation towards the end, just to make your life a little easier. 😀 Spoiler alert, it’s Hemp & Harmony by Vet Naturals.
1. CBD Oil or Hemp Oil
Generally, all hemp plant parts can be consumed with great benefits, according to a study conducted by Giorgia dela Rocca and Alessandra di Salvo, titled Hemp in Veterinary Medicine. They offer several health benefits to dogs, including skin and coat improvement, treatment of pain (arthritis), seizures, loss of appetite, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, and more.
CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil is a hemp plant extract that interacts with the endocannabinoid system, influencing mood, behavior, and other functions. Cannabidiol is linked with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), but the difference is that CBD is not intoxicating and psychoactive, unlike THC. In other words, it won’t get your dog “high.”
Many CBD products claim that they can be used to treat conditions such as chronic pain, inflammation, migraines, epilepsy, autoimmune diseases, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. It’s fairly easy to find studies- or at least strong anecdotal evidence-backing most of these claims for humans. However, so far there are only a few studies supporting CBD use in animals (including dogs).
Still, the AKC Canine Health Foundation is sponsoring a survey; and Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is testing the use of CBD in treatment-resistant epileptic dogs. Other studies are also underway, so I’m sure we’ll know much more soon. Plus, quite a few dog owners swear by CBD oil when it comes to treating their dogs’ anxiety.
Hemp Oil comes from the same plant as CBD oils, but it’s not quite the same. This oil comes from plant’s seeds and doesn’t contain cannabinoids. It’s a good option for those who either can’t buy or don’t want to buy CBD in their area.
Chamomile as a tea is pretty well-known for its calming properties for humans. However, few people know that it is also safe for dogs! In fact, it’s one of the safest herbs we can give to our pets to help them relax.
That said, there aren’t many studies on its effectiveness for anxious dogs. However, like many supplements on this list, the anecdotal evidence from pet owners is enough to make it worth trying, especially given its safety profile.
Watch the video below to learn how to make a soothing chamomile tea compress for dogs:
L-tryptophan is an amino acid that is responsible for making proteins. Tryptophan, in conjunction with other nutrients, helps to form niacin, which is essential for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin. As I’m sure you know (it’s one of the most well-known neurotransmitters, after all), serotonin affects both sleep and mood. Tryptophan is naturally found in milk, oats, meat, fish, nuts, etc.
Some pet owners swear by l-tryptophan supplements for their dogs. They claim that these dietary supplements give a more concentrated formulation, giving them many health benefits, including relaxation, reducing stress, and even calming down dogs with territorial aggression. These supplements are also beneficial to dogs with food allergies who may not be able to get enough tryptophan through dietary sources.
4. Valerian Root
According to the National Institutes of Health, valerian supplements made from Valeriana officinalis can be taken as a tea, drops, capsules, and more. It is said to help dogs with anxiety, helps to improve nighttime sleep, and is a sedative agent for dogs.
IMPORTANT: Due to its sedative effect, it’s not recommended for puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with medical conditions. So please talk to your vet before trying it. I know I already said that, but it’s especially important in this case.
Check out the video below to learn more about the benefits of valerian root for dogs:
Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland, relieves stress in both humans and animals. It is available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts. Still, most human melatonin supplements are not safe to share with our furry friends. However, many are available in the market in a collar, diffusers, pet cologne, and other forms.
Melatonin has been established to help dogs with mild Cushing’s syndrome. In addition to reducing anxiety and promoting sleep, it has also improved hair growth in dogs with alopecia.
Canine Journal put out a great video about how to safely use melatonin for dogs. Check that out below:
6. Thiamin and other B Vitamins.
The entire Vitamin B family is just as vital to our dogs as it is to humans. They are required to metabolize carbohydrates, fat, and protein properly. They also work with enzymes to increase the rate at which carbohydrates are converted into glucose, providing energy for the body.
If your canines experience the following symptoms, it may be because of a lack of vitamin B in their systems, and needed to consult a vet ASAP:
- Excessive shedding
- Constantly gets fleas and ticks.
- Dirty and or decaying teeth
- Motion sickness
- Weight gain and Constipation
- Hair loss
- Premature graying
- Anxious and stressed
- Increased cholesterol levels
Note the bolded symptom? Yep, that’s right; your dog’s anxiety may actually be a sign of a vitamin deficiency. That’s why we tell you over and over again to talk to your vet when something doesn’t seem right, even if you think the problem is entirely psychological or behavioral.
While all of the B vitamins play a role in helping manage dog anxiety, thiamin is often the one that vets recommend as a calming supplement. It’s also one of the safest to start with. Since it’s water-soluble, it leaves the body within four to eight hours, so it’s hard to overdo it. That said, definitely ask your vet for the right dosage for your canine pal.
Like tryptophan, L-theanine is an amino acid. However, while you can find tryptophan in a number of natural food sources, L-theanine is mainly found only in green and black tea leaves. FYI, dogs can drink green tea as long as it’s decaf. Some pups don’t like it, though, so you may be better off with a supplement made specifically for dogs.
When used as a relaxation supplement, studies show that L-theanine helps relieve anxiety in storm-sensitive dogs. It’s typically safe, but use caution in dogs with low blood pressure as it can cause hypotension. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but seriously, talk to your vet first.
Our Favorite All-in-One Calming Supplement for Anxious Dogs
As I said earlier, I purposely didn’t include specific recommendations for each ingredient because I want you to have the tools you need to choose what’s right for your dog. That said, if you’re looking for a great option that covers all of the bases, you can’t go wrong with Hemp & Harmony by Vet Naturals!
Along with Hemp oil, Vet Naturals’ amazing calming supplement contains nearly all of the other ingredients that we’ll discuss throughout this article…and then some. The vet-created formula doesn’t contain any wheat, soy, or corn, making it good for dogs with allergies. It also comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.
In conclusion, giving our fur babies adequate love, affection, attention, and a soothing environment is the best way to help them avoid feeling anxious. However, some factors are unavoidable, like loud noises (fireworks or thunder), temporary separation, and such. These calming supplements aren’t a cure-all for dog anxiety, but they’re a good place to start! After you talk to your vet, of course.
Do you have any favorite calming supplements for anxious dogs? Share below!