You’ve been dreaming of getting a dog for years, and you finally found the perfect companion to bring home. Every day, though, you feel guilty when you leave for work – you know your dog is stressed out about you leaving and miserable when you’re gone. You can’t help but feel frustrated and annoyed. You’ve tried training, but nothing works.
Separation anxiety is a common type of fear that dogs experience. While you can head to the vet for a prescription, you don’t have to jump to that solution yet. It’s time to discover natural ways to reduce anxiety in dogs.
Types of dog anxiety
There are a few common types of stress that dogs experience. Separation anxiety, which is a form of behavioral anxiety, is when your dog has ongoing fear about you leaving the house or being separate from you in general. Situational anxiety occurs when your dog is scared of something specific, like the noise from a vacuum cleaner or thunderstorms. Your dog may also be scared of riding in the car or going to the groomer. It’s possible that your dog suffered from abuse or trauma in the past, which is why they have anxiety or act out.
Dog anxiety warning signs
While you probably know your dog pretty well, it’s possible that you’re mistaking the warning signs of anxiety for normal dog behavior. Common symptoms of dog anxiety are:
- Abnormal urination and defecation
- Chewing or otherwise destroying items
- Consuming non-edible items
- Digestive problems, like diarrhea or vomiting
- Excessive barking, crying, licking and panting
- Loss of appetite
- Pacing or being otherwise restless
- Shaking or trembling
It’s especially important to pay attention to these dog anxiety warning signs if you have a new dog. You won’t know your dog’s personality yet, and it’s best if you can tackle the anxiety problem as early as possible.
Natural ways to treat anxiety in dogs
While there are pharmaceuticals that you could get a prescription for, some medications have harmful side effects, such as lethargy, increased urination, upset stomach, and even seizures. Additionally, some treatments take weeks to start working, and the symptoms of anxiety (such as aggression) may get worse in the meantime. It’s best to try natural remedies first before turning to medication.
- Background noise: If your dog seems soothed when you have music or the TV on, leave it on for him even when you go out. It may provide the company he needs when you’re not home.
- CBD oil: CBD oil is becoming common for treating anxiety in both pets and humans. Another option to consider, using treats that offer CBD for dogs. Since it isn’t federally regulated, make sure to do your research. You may want to ask your vet for a recommendation to find a quality product and give your dog the correct dosage for his size.
- Exercise: If you haven’t had the time to take your dog out to walk, run, and play much lately, it could be leaving him feeling cooped up and lonely. Let him work out his anxiety with an enjoyable romp in your backyard or the dog park.
More treatment options
- Herbs: Chamomile, valerian, and St. John’s Wort are all recommended to ease your dog’s anxiety. You can make an herbal tea and then pour it over the dog food or mix it into his water, or you can use tinctures that you add to food or water, or even drop directly into the dog’s mouth. The correct tea dosage is one-quarter cup up to three times per day, but if your dog is over 20 pounds, you can increase it to half a cup. The correct tincture dosage is one to four drops for dogs up to 20 pounds, five to ten drops for 20-50 pounds, and ten to 20 drops for 50-100 pounds, administered two to three times per day. You also can give your dog calming bites that contain many of the same ingredients.
- Lavender oil: A long-hailed treatment for humans, lavender oil aromatherapy can also work wonders on your pet. If your dog is anxious before a car ride, put a drop or two of lavender oil on the blanket he’ll be laying on in the car. Note that pets shouldn’t ingest lavender (and other essential oils), and they shouldn’t be applied directly to the pet, either.
- Melatonin: Humans take melatonin to get drowsy before bedtime, and it can have the same calming effect on your dog. This is a short-term solution, but ideal if you know a storm is coming or you have to leave the house for an hour or so. The correct dosage is 1 mg per 20 lbs. Stress-relief supplements also can help.
Try something new
- Mental stimulation: Just like humans, dogs can combat stress with distraction. A lot of stress comes from boredom, so try stimulating your dog mentally by teaching him a new trick or game.
- A Thundershirt: This compression garment uses gentle hugging pressure to soothe your dog. Company surveys show 80 percent of dogs experience anxiety relief when they wear the shirt.
Left untreated, dogs who suffer from anxiety may become aggressive or hostile, which could result in dog bites or more vicious attacks. Even if the stress doesn’t become that severe, your dog may be so nervous when you leave the house or that he no longer enjoys his favorite activities.
You love your dog, and the last thing you want is for him to feel anxious, uncomfortable, or upset. If you’re able to defeat anxiety using natural methods and reduce his stress levels, both you and your dog will have a happier, more peaceful life.
– Noah Rue