Calming products for fearful dogs

There are a variety of supplements and other non-prescription substances that can be used to help your dog. In some cases the effects are obvious and in other cases the effects may not be as noticeable, but with time may help your dog. Use caution when adding anything new to your dog’s diet. Never assume that because something is ‘natural’ that it is either better or safer than a prescription medication available from a vet. Never combine herbs, supplements or medications without first asking a veterinarian. There can be life-threatening complications even with all ‘natural’ products. If something is powerful enough to affect a change in our dog’s behavior, it may also be powerful enough to cause harm.

Do not expect miraculous results in most cases but look for minor indications that your dog’s level of stress has been lowered. Some supplements can be used on a daily basis while others are meant for situational fears (like thunder or car rides).

Keep a chart noting changes in your dog’s behavior. You want to see positive changes ASAP. Spending months giving your dog something that makes YOU feel good, but does little to help them feel good, is wasting time and money.

Gentle massage is also helpful to calm a fearful dog. There are books on the subject. One technique is called TTouch and it involves a particular type of massage and can address specific concerns.

Keep in mind that any handling of your dog should be reassuring and make it feel better, not more frightened. Keep initial sessions short until your dog can deal with more prolonged handling. You should also be feeling calm and relaxed whenever you handle your dog.

Dr. Karen Overall’s relaxation protocol may also be of interest. Here it is available in MP3 format made available by Champion of My Heart.

Calming Aids

The inclusion of these products does not indicate an endorsement of them. They might be worth a try, but decide for yourself which helps your pet. Look for controlled studies demonstrating that the product was more effective than a placebo or nothing at all. Make sure that comparisons made with medications have been medications that a vet would prescribe to treat anxiety. These are not listed in any particular order.

  • Anxitane-sold by vets-contains L-theanine
  • Composure– A combination of C3* and the Suntheanine brand of L-theanine and  B1. Composure Pro has added L-trytophan.
  • Lactium*- contains a bioactive peptide with anti-stress and anti-anxiety properties, available from Swanson Health Products
  • Zylkene
  • Solliquin– A combination of L-theanine, herbs and milk product
  • D.A.P.

No peer-reviewed, controlled, double-blind studies demonstrate that Rescue Remedy or homeopathic remedies provide significant anxiety reducing benefits beyond those of a placebo.

When using products compounded for people avoid any ingredients which may be poisonous to dogs, Xylitol for example.

*Lactium is a branded isolated peptide derived from whey.

**C3 (“Colostrum Calming Complex”) is a branded blend of 10 different peptides derived from colostrum.

Anxitane_study_2010 a product sold by vets that includes L-theanine.

Body Wraps & Shirts

Some fearful dog owners have found that their dog is more comfortable when wearing a snug fitting T shirt or body wrap. The Thundershirt comes in a variety of sizes.

Keeping well meaning, but scary strangers away from your dog while you’re working on counter conditioning and desensitizing can be a challenge. IN TRAINING shirts can help keep hands off your dog when out in public.

Before you spend too long experimenting with over-the-counter products that have not been thoroughly tested for efficacy, or thinking that meds should be a last resort, please visit this page. Warning. The images are disturbing, but they should be.

Not taking a dog’s fear, anxiety and phobias very seriously can have adverse health impacts. The Physiological Affects of Fear.