From loud noises to trips to the vet, a variety of situations can cause anxiety in pups. Fortunately, there are lots of safe and effective ways to help stressed-out dogs feel calmer.
Dogs get stressed-out just like we do, though usually for different reasons. Canine stress often arises from changes in routine, household upheaval, loud noises, insufficient exercise, separation anxiety, and of course, visits to the vet! While many of these situations may be unavoidable, the good news is that there are lots of simple and effective ways to ease your dog’s stress and help her feel better.
Well-known for alleviating our own stress, high quality essential oils are also helpful for stressed-out dogs. Lavender is especially effective, while Chamomile, Rose and Ylang Ylang encourage calmness too. Dilute just a few drops in a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil, rub some of the mixture between your palms, and massage it on your dog’s coat. Some essential oils can also be diffused into the air for a calming effect. Important: Be absolutely certain that you’re using high quality therapeutic grade oils – they’re more expensive, but cheaper products are often adulterated and can be toxic to dogs. (product placement for Lifeforce?)
Safe and easy to administer, flower essences can be very helpful for calming a stressed dog. Just rub a few drops into the dog’s ears or paw pads, or add a bit to his drinking water. Use a compilation calming formula or individual essences such as Aspen, Mimulus, Rock Rose and Star of Bethlehem.
Chews and supplements
A variety of natural supplements and even treats are formulated to help stressed-out dogs. They may contain ingredients such as L-tryptohphan (an amino acid that the body converts into serotonin) and chamomile (an herb known for its ability to reduce anxiety and stress), along with other relaxing herbs such as valerian and passionflower. Incorporated into a palatable treat or chewable supplement, they can help calm stressed canines.
Being swaddled is comforting to babies, so why not for dogs too? Therapeutic body wraps can be effective for calming canine anxiety and stress in the event of loud noises or other stressful situations. These garments create a gentle but constant pressure over the dog’s body that eases anxiety and helps him feel more secure. Think “weighted blankets” for humans.
Dog appeasing pheromones
Pheromones are chemicals naturally produced by many animals, including dogs. These chemicals communicate with members of the same species by having a calming or appeasing effect that can reduce stress, anxiety or aggression. Dog appeasing pheromones (DAPs) are also available in the form of products, such as sprays, diffusers, and collars. ADAPTIL is one company that offers all three for both puppies and adult dogs, helping them to feel calmer, reassured, and more confident in stressful situations.
Minimizing or reducing stressors
It’s important to understand why your dog is stressed-out to begin with, and to take steps to identify and reduce the stressors in her life. If separation anxiety is the cause, you might need the help of a trainer or animal behaviourist. If your dog gets particularly stressed by loud noises, keep her indoors when it’s thundering, or if someone is setting off fireworks. Make sure she’s getting enough exercise, companionship and mental stimulation so she doesn’t get bored or lonely. If you’re moving house, or having renovations done, try to keep her routine as normal as possible. The same applies if there’s a change in the household – e.g. a child leaving home, a companion animal (or person) dying, or someone new (human or animal!) moving in. And remember to keep your own stress levels under control – if you’re stressed, he’ll feel it too!