4 ways to treat anxiety in dogs naturally
You should always tailor the treatment you give anxious dogs to the cause of their anxiety, and later in this article we consider ways to treat the three causes of anxiety identified above. However, all treatment essentially falls in to four groups and they should all be considered as part of any treatment programme.
Exercise – on a biological level, exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin which can improve a dog’s mood, but exercise can also help improve a dog’s independence and socialisation which can reduce anxiety. Exercise can be one of the hardest areas to improve as a dog owner but we’ve some more tips on our article on how to help overweight dogs.
Training – helping dogs manage the psychological aspect of anxiety is a significant part of any treatment programme regardless of the cause. Some anxious behaviours can even become learned so that the dog begins to repeat anxious behaviour even when they’re not anxious! Teaching them ways to self-soothe, associate positive outcomes with the sources of their anxiety, and conditioning them to stop anxious behaviours. Note its important that training is positive – punishment is a cause of anxiety among dogs and will most likely not help.
Calming aids – anything that helps your dog relax and soothes their anxiety can be used as a calming aid. There are lots of products out there – thundershirts or anxiety jackets are one of the most popular, but there are also a wide range of toys, aromatherapy products (Rescue Remedy is a great natural one), pheromone sprays, music pieces and even TV shows out there that can help. Often simply offering your dog a safe, quiet, relaxing, cubbyhole in your home is the best calming aid together with an interesting outdoor space to play and exercise. A gentle massage can also help them relax.
Diet – lots of foods and nutrients have been found to assist with improving mental health and combatting stress in both dogs and humans alike. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E help support healthy brains. B vitamins help reduce irritability and support adrenal glands which reduce stress. L-tryptothan, an amino acid, helps produce serotonin which improves mood. Omega 3 oils act as an anti-inflammatory which help reduce inflammation in the brain. Probiotics and prebiotics support the ‘gut-brain’ axis. We’ve included lots of these nutrients in our Balanced Life dog food and our gentle air drying process minimises any nutritional loss, including from fragile nutrients like amino acids. Find out more about how our food supports anxiety at the bottom of the article.
In extreme cases medication may be used – typically drugs that support serotonin production or act as sedatives will be prescribed.