Home Remedies for Managing Anxiety in Dogs with Cuyamaca Animal Hospital
When it comes to talking about mental health, we as a society have made leaps and bounds in destigmatizing an issue that affects the lives of nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults. However, we still have a long way to go, and if that’s the case for humans, imagine what it’s like for their four-legged companions!
Dog canine anxiety is not talked about as often as it should be, and can be so stressful and frustrating on pet parents. As a pet parent, all you want is for your pup to live a healthy and happy life. When they’re exhibiting symptoms that suggest otherwise, you can end up feeling helpless, asking yourself where you went wrong.
The fact of the matter is, like with human anxiety, some things are simply beyond our control. Maybe your pup didn’t have the greatest life before he found his fur-ever home with you. Maybe anxiety is just in his nature. Maybe he’s aging or dealing with separation anxiety.
Or, maybe there are environmental factors you can address to help alleviate his or her stress. And that’s what we’re here for, to talk about the things you can control. However sad or frustrating dog anxiety can be, we at Cuyamaca Animal Hospital know that it can be managed or assisted with techniques, training, patience, and love.
Here are our suggested home remedies for managing dog anxiety:
Dog Appeasing Pheromones are odorless and comforting messages that mother dogs communicate to their puppies. That’s why these pheromones have been clinically proven to be effective in adult dogs, too. Adaptil produces pheromone-releasing collars and home diffusers to release similar calming messages to your pups. We even have Adaptil & Feliway (the feline version of Adaptil) pheromones throughout our veterinary hospital.
2. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
And we’re not just talking about your 10 or 15 minute walk around the block so your pup can go potty (although regular potty breaks are always recommended!). Anxious dogs need even more stimulation. Practice incorporating longer walks and more park excursions to direct your dog’s nervous energy in more healthy and productive ways.
Playing music for your anxious pets via the iCalmPet method has been proven to be over 80% effective in soothing a wide range of fear, anxiety, and excitement issues. We even use it as part of our Fear-Free practice!
4. Reward and Redirection
We’re all human. We are so invested in our pets’ happiness that we can become frustrated when the things we try don’t work and your pets keep demonstrating destructive behavior. Still, it’s important to keep trying to ignore anxious behavior. Never scold or punish them… after all, making your pup more stressed for being stressed is just fighting fire with fire. Instead, reward his calm, relaxed behavior. Redirect anxious behavior to more accepted ways of dealing with stress: playing games, running around in the yard, etc.
5. Toys and Treats
As we mentioned earlier, your dog needs healthy ways to direct all that nervous energy. Chew toys and sticks are a great way to keep your dog busy, while simultaneously exercising his jaw muscles and providing supplemental dental care. As many pet parents know, dogs love Kongs filled with peanut butter. Other solutions to try involve interactive and puzzle toys or feeders, like a snuffle mat or treat dispenser.
Vet recommended and over 80% effective, ThunderShirts are becoming more and more popular as a calming solution for pups dealing with fireworks, travel, vet visits, thunderstorms, and separation anxiety. The gentle pressure of this snuggly vest helps your pup feel swaddled, held, and supported.
7. Composure Bite-Sized Chews by Vetri-Science
Composure chews provide supplemental support in helping ease pet anxiety. Colostrum Calming Complex helps support healthy cognitive function and stress relief and L-Theanine promotes amino acid production in the body to bring balance back into your pup’s life. Composure chews also provide those crucial B vitamins that all pups need, anxious or otherwise.
Bach Flower Remedies offer pet-safe and natural ways of healing the mind, body, and spirit by infusing wild flowers with spring water. Rescue Remedy, made specifically for anxious animals, can help provide natural relief all from the properties of nature’s gardens. Add just a couple of drops to your pup’s drinking bowl and see his or her mood improve.
Desensitization training is the most important part of managing separation anxiety. We recommend starting with a trusted friend: both can work to put your dog in a positive mood with attention, treats, and favorite toys. Then, try leaving the house for 5 minutes while your friend continues positive reinforcement, then reward your pet upon return. If your dog does well, you can increase the time you are gone in 5-10 minute intervals until you reach an hour, and go from there.
As with anything in life, though, some conditions are so severe that you may need to consider medication to get you and your pup back on track toward a functional lifestyle. There’s no shame in that! But it’s important to know that medications will be most effective when used in combination with the above training techniques.
If your cat or dog is exhibiting signs of anxiety or anxiousness, please bring him or her in to see us. At Cuyamaca Animal Hospital, we foster strong relationships with our fur-clients so that we can come up with the best and most effective treatment plan specific to your family pet. If you need help managing pet stress, give us a call today at (619) 448-0707 or stop by our veterinary hospital at 8802 Cuyamaca Street here in Santee, California.