Like humans, dogs can feel the pangs of stress and anxiety. These emotions are totally normal to feel from time to time but left unchecked, they can develop into a full-fledged anxiety disorder. Therefore, it’s important to understand the root causes of anxiety in dogs and to take action to prevent the symptoms from worsening. One solution is calming treats, a delicious and easy way to manage anxiety in your furry friend.
What causes stress and anxiety in dogs?
The root causes of a dog’s stress and anxiety are important to pin down. Anxiety in dogs usually belongs to one of three categories: fear-related anxiety, separation anxiety, and age-related anxiety.
The symptoms of anxiety to watch out for are aggression, urinating in the house, drooling, panting, destructive behavior, depression, excessive barking, pacing, and restlessness. Dogs may also exhibit compulsive behavior, like constantly chasing/chewing their tails.
Fear related-anxiety is caused by loud noises, strange people, or unpleasant environments, like going to the vet. This type of anxiety can be short-lived but is problematic because it frequently reoccurs.
Separation anxiety is perhaps the most well-known of the three categories. This anxiety can be sparked whenever we leave our furry friends. Some dogs cannot find comfort when left alone and feel as though they have been left behind. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety may urinate or defecate in the house or destroy furniture. About 1 in 6 dogs suffer from separation anxiety.
Age-related anxiety affects older dogs who are experiencing cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Sadly, this is like the dog equivalent of early Alzheimer’s. A dog’s memory, learning, perception, and awareness can all decline, leaving the dog confused and anxious.
How do you manage stress and anxiety?
After you’ve identified anxiety in your dog, treatment is the next step. First, you should consult your veterinarian. No one knows your dog like (you and) your vet. Together, you will come up with a plan which will likely involve a combination of treatments, including training, preventative measures, and possibly medication.
Another option for anxiety management: calming chews. Calming treats are great for dealing with symptoms of anxiety and giving your pet some temporary relief. However, calming treats will not address the root causes of anxiety. They should be used in conjunction with the treatment methods suggested by your vet.
What types of calming treats work best?
There are a number of different compounds that go into calming treats, and dog owners will all swear by different types. Most commonly, calming treats will contain some mix of L-tryptophan, melatonin, ginger root, valerian root, chamomile flower, and possibly CBD. But not all these ingredients are made equal.
Melatonin: Melatonin is very effective for dogs, but it can sometimes lead to side effects, including extreme drowsiness, fatigue, digestive issues, and an increased heart rate. Therefore, experts usually recommend an L-tryptophan rather than a melatonin treat. Furthermore, dogs with diabetes should never receive melatonin supplements.
CBD/Hemp: Some dog parents like to feed their pups CBD treats. While studies show that CBD is safe for dogs, there is not yet any evidence that CBD helps dogs manage anxiety. However, hemp-derived products will contain Omega 3 and Omega 6, which are both proven to treat depression and anxiety in animals and humans.
L-Tryptophan: L-Tryptophan is an amino acid found in proteins like poultry and eggs. The body does not produce L-Tryptophan, so it must be consumed in the diet. L-Tryptophan is shown to reduce aggression in dogs and increase calm behavior. And without the negative side effects of melatonin, L-Tryptophan is the most expert-recommended ingredient for calming dog chews.
Of the calming treats we reviewed, 5 were our favorite.
GoodGood’s calming chews are an all-around great choice for your dog. These chews are formulated with L-Theanine, an active amino acid that induces a non-drowsy calm. They also have chamomile, a potent relaxing flower, and ashwagandha, which is an herbal extract that destresses and supports calmness. And GoodGood’s chews carry the seal of approval from the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), so you can be sure that your pet is eating quality ingredients only.
The chews come in a Pork Liver & Apple flavor. There are 90 chews in each bag. The recommended dose is 1 chew a day for dogs of 26 to 75 pounds, which would make this a 3-month supply.
These calming chews are manufactured with hemp seed powder and hemp seed oil. Hemp is completely safe and is full of vitamins, minerals, and helpful amino acids, and it known to provide stress relief while easing arthritis and improving mobility.
The chews come in 3 different flavors: beef liver, chicken, and duck, which is a more potent formula that adds melatonin. There are 90 chews per package.
Unlike the rest of the treats on this list, these calming sticks promote dental health as well as calmness. These sticks are peppermint flavored and have melatonin, chamomile, valerian root, and hemp seed oil to provide natural relaxation for your pup.
There are 25 sticks per pack. The recommended amount is ½ a stick a day for dogs less than 25 pounds, and 1 stick a day for dogs 26 pounds and up.
Zesty Paw’s chews have all the ingredients you could ever ask for in a calming chew: L-Tryptophan, L-Theanine, Chamomile, Ginger root, and Valerian root. These ingredients mean maximum relaxation without any residual grogginess. The chews come in a turkey flavor.
The only downside? Some owners report that their pets don’t like the smell.