Holistic Approaches to Relieving Stress and Anxiety in Dogs: Herbs and Natural Supplements
Holistic Approaches to Relieving Stress and Anxiety in Dogs: Herbs and Natural Supplements

Holistic Approaches to Relieving Stress and Anxiety in Dogs: Herbs and Natural Supplements

Dogs are not immune to stress and anxiety. If you want to help your dog, you might be interested in some natural and holistic ways to do so. Holistic methods treat your dog as a whole, not just a symptom, and use natural sources to calm and balance their nervous system.

In this article we look into some of the most popular herbs and natural supplements that are marketed to reduce anxiety in dogs, such as chamomile, passionflower, melatonin, L-theanine, CBD oil, and certain types of lignans.

Additionally, we will give you some tips on preventing or minimizing stress and anxiety in dogs using other holistic techniques such as massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture, music therapy, and more. If you want to learn more about holistic approaches to relieving stress and anxiety in dogs: herbs and natural supplements - keep reading!

Herbs for Stress and Anxiety in Dogs

Chamomile

If you have a dog suffering from stress and anxiety, you may look for natural ways to help them cope. One of the most popular and effective herbs for calming dogs is chamomile.

Chamomile is a flowering herb that belongs to the same family as daisies and sunflowers. For generations, people have turned to it as a treatment for anything from sleeplessness and indigestion to skin irritations and inflammation. It contains compounds that work on the neurological system to lower cortisol levels. Muscle soreness and cramping can be alleviated thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects.

You can brew a tea from dried or fresh flowers and let it cool down before offering it to your dog in a bowl or adding it to their food or water. You can also buy chamomile capsules or tinctures and follow the instructions on the label. The general dosage for dogs is one teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water or 0.25 to 0.5 ml of tincture per 10 pounds of body weight.

Chamomile is generally safe and well-tolerated by dogs. Still, some dogs may be allergic to it or have an adverse reaction. Some signs of an allergic reaction include itching, swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, and vomiting. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop giving chamomile to your dog and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Chamomile may also interact with medications such as blood thinners, sedatives, and antidepressants. Therefore, you should consult your veterinarian before giving chamomile to your dog if they are on any medication or have any medical condition.

DOG Streamz blog image. Camomile for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Valerian Root

Valerian root is a herb used for centuries to calm the nerves and promote a sense of calming and relaxation. But did you know that it's also effective in dogs? Here's how it works:

The valerenic acid found in valerian root has been shown to raise gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain. The neurotransmitter GABA is crucial for calming nerves and making you feel at ease. Valerian root helps relieve anxiety and tension in your dog by raising GABA levels.

Valerian root is available in various forms, including capsules, tinctures, and teas. For dogs, the most common form is a tincture that can be added to their food or water. It's necessary to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and never exceed the recommended dosage.

While valerian root is generally safe for dogs, there are potential side effects to be aware of. These can include drowsiness, stomach upset, and changes in appetite. In rare cases, dogs may experience excitability or restlessness.

You should not give valerian root to pregnant or nursing dogs, dogs with liver disease, or dogs with certain medical conditions. Additionally, valerian root may interact with certain medications, so it's crucial to consult your veterinarian before giving it to your dog.

DOG Streamz blog image. Valrain root for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Passionflower

While there are many ways to help alleviate stress and anxiety, one natural option that has gained popularity in recent years is herbs. Passionflower is one such herb that is particularly effective at calming anxious dogs.

So, how does passionflower work? Passionflower contains compounds that act as natural sedatives and have a calming effect on the nervous system. It has also been found to increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels. This neurotransmitter helps to regulate brain activity and promote relaxation.

Regarding dosage and administration, it is important to check with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount for your dog based on its weight and overall health. Passionflower can be given in various forms, including tea, tincture, or capsule. It is important to ensure that you use a high-quality product specifically formulated for dogs.

Passionflower is generally safe for most dogs. However, there are potential side effects and contraindications to be aware of. Some dogs may experience digestive upset or drowsiness, particularly if given too high a dose. Additionally, passionflower should not be used in pregnant, nursing, or liver disease dogs.

DOG Streamz blog image. Passionflower for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Kava

Kava is a plant native to the Pacific Islands that has been used for centuries as a ceremonial and social drink. Kava contains compounds called kavalactones that have sedative and anti-anxiety effects. Kava may help dogs with stress and anxiety by reducing nervousness, excitability, and aggression.

The dosage and administration of kava for dogs depend on the dog's weight, age, and health condition. A general guideline is to give 1 to 2 mg of kava per pound of body weight up to three times a day. Kava can be given as a capsule, a liquid extract, or as tea. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving kava to your dog.

Kava may have some potential side effects and contraindications for dogs. Some of the side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, skin rash, and liver damage. It should not be given to dogs with liver, kidney, or blood disorders. Kava may also interact with some medications, such as sedatives, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. It is best to use it with caution and under veterinary supervision.

DOG Streamz blog image. Kava for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Lignans

Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen, a plant compound that mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. Some research now indicates that they may help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs by balancing their hormones and modulating their cortisol levels. You can find lignans in flax, sesame, and other plants.

The dosage and administration of lignans for dogs depend on their weight and health condition. A general guideline is to give 1 mg of lignans per pound of body weight per day, divided into two doses. Lignans can be given as a supplement or mixed with food. It may take several weeks to see the benefits of lignans for dogs.

It is generally safe and well-tolerated by dogs, but there are some potential side effects and contraindications. Lignans may interfere with some medications, such as hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills, or anticoagulants. It may also cause gastrointestinal upset, allergic reactions, or hormonal changes in some dogs. Consult your veterinarian before giving lignans to your dog, especially if they have any medical conditions or are pregnant or nursing.

DOG Streamz blog image. Lignans, found in flax seeds, for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Natural Supplements for Stress and Anxiety in Dogs

CBD oil

CBD is a compound derived from hemp that has calming and anti-inflammatory effects on dogs. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which has shown to regulate mood, pain, appetite, and immune function. CBD can help dogs cope with stress, anxiety, noise phobia, separation anxiety, and chronic pain.

The dosage and administration of CBD depending on the product type, potency, and weight of the dog. Generally, CBD oil can be given orally or mixed with food, while CBD treats can be offered as a reward or snack. The recommended dosage is usually between 0.2 and 0.8 mg of CBD per kg of body weight daily. Still, it may vary depending on the dog's needs and response.

The compound is generally safe and well-tolerated by dogs, but some potential side effects and contraindications may occur. These include drowsiness, dry mouth, low blood pressure, and interactions with other medications. Because of this, it is important to talk to your vet before administering CBD to your dog, especially if he or she already has a medical problem or is receiving medication.

DOG Streamz blog image. CBD oil for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid in green tea that has relaxing and anti-stress effects on dogs. The neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine play a key role in how it operates by regulating mood, emotion, and cognition. Anxiety, fear, aggression, and hyperactivity are all things that L-theanine can aid in canines.

Generally, L-theanine capsules or tablets can be given orally or mixed with food, while L-theanine chews can be offered as a treat or snack. The recommended dosage is usually between 50 to 200 mg of L-theanine per day for dogs weighing up to 25 kg and between 100 to 400 mg for dogs weighing more than 25 kg.

L-theanine is well-tolerated and deemed safe for dogs, but some potential side effects and contraindications may occur. These include gastrointestinal upset, headaches, dizziness, and allergic reactions. Talk to your vet before administering CBD to your dog, especially if he or she already has a medical problem or is receiving medication.

Melatonin

The hormone melatonin controls the canine 24-hour sleep/wake cycle. It helps align the body's internal 24-hour clock with the 24-hour day-night cycle outside. In addition to helping dogs sleep better, melatonin can help dogs deal with stress, anxiety, noise phobia, and SAD.

Melatonin capsules or tablets can be given orally or mixed with food. At the same time, melatonin sprays can be applied to the skin or fur. The recommended dosage is usually between 1 to 6 mg of melatonin per day for dogs weighing up to 10 kg and between 3 to 12 mg for dogs weighing more than 10 kg.

While it is safe for dogs, there might be some negative reactions. These include sedation, changes in reproductive function, hair loss, and interactions with other medications. If your dog has a medical history or is already taking medication, you should talk to your vet before giving them melatonin.

Magnesium

In dogs, this mineral is crucial for proper nerve and muscle function. The stress-response and relaxation-related neurotransmitters and enzymes are the targets of its action. Dogs taking magnesium may have less anxiety, muscle tension, and spasms.

Magnesium supplements can be given orally or mixed with food as powder, liquid, or capsules. The recommended dosage is usually between 10 to 30 mg of magnesium per kg of body weight per day for dogs.

Magnesium is  safe for dogs, but some potential side effects and contraindications may occur. These include diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy, weakness, and heart rate and blood pressure changes. So, if your dog has a medical history or is taking medication, discuss taking magnesium with your vet.

Complementary Holistic Approaches for Stress and Anxiety in Dogs

Here are some complementary, holistic approaches for stress and anxiety in dogs. These natural methods can help your dog cope with various sources of stress, such as separation, noise, travel, or illness. However, they are not meant to replace veterinary care or behavioural training, so always consult your vet before trying these approaches.

Acupuncture

In acupuncture, thin needles are inserted into certain spots on the body to increase the flow of energy, or qi. Acupuncture has been shown to relieve pain and improve mood by stimulating the production of endorphins.

It can benefit dogs with stress and anxiety by reducing inflammation, improving blood circulation, easing muscle tension, and promoting relaxation. Some potential side effects and contraindications of acupuncture include bleeding, infection, bruising, or discomfort at the needle site. Acupuncture should not be performed on dogs with bleeding disorders, infections, or cancer.

DOG Streamz blog image. Acupuncture for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a form of physical manipulation that involves applying pressure, stroking, kneading, or rubbing the body's soft tissues. Massage therapy can help relax the muscles and joints, improve blood flow and lymphatic drainage, and stimulate the release of endorphins and oxytocin.

Massage therapy can benefit dogs with stress and anxiety by lowering blood pressure and heart rate, reducing cortisol levels, increasing serotonin levels, and enhancing bonding and trust. Some potential side effects and contraindications of massage therapy include soreness, swelling, or irritation of the skin or muscles. Massage therapy should not be performed on dogs with fractures, wounds, infections, or fever.

DOG Streamz blog image. Massage therapy for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a complementary and alternative medicine practice that uses the therapeutic effects of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils. It can help stimulate the olfactory system and influence the brain regions that regulate stress and anxiety.

Aromatherapy can benefit dogs with stress and anxiety by calming the nervous system, reducing fear and aggression, and improving sleep quality and appetite.

Some potential side effects and contraindications of aromatherapy include allergic reactions, skin irritation, nausea, or vomiting. Aromatherapy should not be used on dogs with respiratory problems, epilepsy, or pregnancy.

Advanced Magnetic Therapy

Introducing a revolutionary approach to the ever-growing magnetic therapy market, advanced magnetism provides dog owners with a new type of magnetic therapy for their dogs. Advanced magnetic collars have been developed following the successes found on humans and horses and creates a non-invasive magnetic field which spins around the dogs neck as opposed to traditional magnetic collars which create a pulse. This spinning magnetic action creates no thermal reaction in the dog meaning the collars can be worn 24x7, directly after exercise and for long term use. Independent studies on these collars have shown an effect on a dogs behaviour when wearing the collars.   

Exercise and Physical Activity

Exercise and physical activity are any forms of movement involving energy and muscles. It can help maintain a healthy weight, strengthen the immune system, and prevent boredom and destructive behaviours.

Moreover, it can benefit dogs with stress and anxiety by burning off excess energy, releasing endorphins and dopamine, improving confidence and socialization skills, and providing mental stimulation and fun.

Many activities are available for dogs and their owners to have fun together whilst exercising, including sports such as dog agility. 

Some potential side effects and contraindications of exercise and physical activity include overexertion, dehydration, heatstroke, and injury. Exercise and physical activity should be tailored to the dog's age, breed, health condition, and personality.

DOG Streamz blog image. Physical exercise for dogs can help alleviate anxiety

Diet and Nutrition for Stress and Anxiety in Dogs

A balanced and nutritious diet can help support their physical and mental well-being. At the same time, certain foods and supplements may have a calming effect on their nervous system. Many natural foods are now marketed within the canine community. 

Nutritional Supplements

Some nutritional supplements may help your dog deal with stress and anxiety by providing them with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that support their nervous system and brain function.

For example, B vitamins, magnesium, and L-theanine have calming effects on dogs and humans. These supplements may also reduce the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase the production of serotonin, the happiness hormone.

Certain supplements may even be harmful to some dogs. Before giving your dog any supplements, you should talk to your vet and carefully follow the recommended dosage. Some dogs may experience unpleasant responses to supplements, and there may be drug interactions.

Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that naturally occur in a dog's digestive tract, aiding in nutrient absorption and the dog's immune system defences. Your dog's immune system and temperament are both influenced by them.

Probiotics have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in dogs by influencing the gut-brain axis, the communication link between the digestive and central nervous systems. It may also produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which control your dog's mood and behaviour.

They are generally safe for most dogs, but you should choose a product specifically designed for canine use that contains strains proven to be effective for dogs. Probiotics may cause mild gastrointestinal distress in some dogs through flatulence or diarrhoea. But, in most cases, symptoms clear up after a few days.

High-Quality Protein

Protein is an essential macronutrient that gives your dog energy and builds its muscles, bones, skin, hair, and organs. It also helps them produce hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and neurotransmitters vital for their health and well-being.

It is especially important for dogs that suffer from stress and anxiety because it helps them maintain a stable blood sugar level and prevents them from feeling hungry or irritable. Protein also provides them with amino acids such as tryptophan, a serotonin precursor. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and even plant-based diets like soy and quinoa are all good sources of protein for canines.

However, too much protein can harm some dogs, especially those with kidney or liver problems. To establish the appropriate quantity of protein for your dog, always follow the feeding instructions on the product label or talk to your vet.

Balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Your dog must consume omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids since these are necessary polyunsaturated fats. They have many functions in your dog's body, such as regulating inflammation, supporting cell membrane structure, promoting skin and coat health, and enhancing brain development and function.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can also help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs by modulating their neurotransmitter levels and improving their cognitive abilities. However, not all omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are created equal. Some sources are more beneficial than others, depending on their type and ratio.

For example, EPA and DHA are the most effective omega-3 fatty acids for dogs. At the same time, LA and GLA are the most beneficial omega-6 fatty acids for dogs. Dogs should have a 1:1 to a 1:4 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Oils extracted from fish, flaxseed, hemp, sunflower, safflower, and borage seeds are all good sources of these fats.

However, some dogs may have weight gain or digestive troubles if they consume too much of these fats, so moderation is key. Because they can quickly go rancid if not stored properly, you should also ensure these oils' purity and freshness.

Conclusion

In this article we have discussed several holistic approaches to relieving stress and anxiety in dogs, such as aromatherapy, massage, advanced magnetism and herbal remedies. These methods can help calm your dog's nervous system and promote well-being and relaxation. However, they are not substitutes for proper veterinary care and diagnosis.

If your dog suffers from chronic or severe stress and anxiety, consult your veterinarian for the best treatment options. You may also want to seek the advice of a certified animal behaviourist or trainer to address any underlying behavioural issues that may contribute to your dog's distress.

Combining holistic and conventional approaches is now a common within the canine community. 

Other blog articles that may interest you: 

DOG ARTHRITIS | SYMPTOMS, CAUSES & TREATMENTS

CANINE DYSPLASIA | HIP & ELBOW DYSPLASIA IN DOGS

DOG HEALTH | RECOVERY AND REHABILITATION

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About the author

Aubri Bell is a talented marketing director with a passion for pets. With years of experience in the industry, she has honed her skills in creating effective marketing strategies that drive growth and engagement. Currently connected at Lignans For Life, Aubri is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of pets while also helping pet owners find the best products and services for their furry friends.

About the author
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Ema Pavlakova
(United Kingdom)
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