Just like humans, dogs can develop anxiety. As a pet parent, it can be stressful to see your pet struggling with anxiety and stress.
If you have an anxious dog, you may wonder if dog calming treats are worth the hype and if calming treats are safe for dogs.
In this article, we'll cover important information about dog calming treats and anxiety in dogs, plus:
- The benefits of calming treats
- Are calming treats safe for dogs
- What to look for in calming treats
- When to use them
What is dog anxiety
Anxiety occurs when your dog feels fear or discomfort. When dogs feel anxious, they experience a fight, flight, or freeze reaction.
A dog may react aggressively when they feel threatened or scared. This is your dog's fight reaction. Fear and discomfort may bring out aggressive behavior like barking and growling.
When there are stressors in your dog's environment, their first instinct may be flight. This might mean they flee the area or stressful situation, or mark their territory.
Keep your dog safe in potentially stressful situations by using a leash and harness. And, be wary of off-leash dog parks and hiking trails where other dogs may be roaming.
Stressful situations can be debilitating for dogs. Under stress, your dog may freeze. This looks like your dog's body completely still, your dog holding their breath, and having a fixed look in their eyes.
Having a fight, flight, or freeze response in a stressful situation is normal for dogs. But, when this reaction happens regularly in everyday life, it may be a sign of a more serious anxiety condition. Plus, reacting aggressively or fleeing the area could be detrimental to their safety.
Managing anxiety in dogs
Feeling anxious is normal for dogs and can happen in different ways. It often depends on where they live, their past experiences, and how healthy they are.
As a pet parent, you may think your dogs are excited when they bark a lot, jump around, pant too much, or tear up toys. But, these actions could actually mean that your dog is feeling anxious or stressed out.
Anxiety in dogs may seem like an overwhelming condition. But, there are plenty of options for treating your dog’s anxiety.
Prescription anxiety medication isn’t always necessary to treat anxiety. There’s natural products, supplements, and remedies that can reduce anxiety.
What are calming dog treats
Dog calming treats have calming ingredients to soothe your dog's nerves. Calming treats for dogs help level a dog's behavior, especially in stressful moments. Calming treats are typically not prescription medications.
What is in calming treats
Calming dog treats are a safe option for treating anxiety in dogs. The best calming treats for dogs have no artificial flavors, additives, or preservatives.
Opt for dog calming treats made with human-grade, organic ingredients like:
Organic ginger root supports your dog’s health as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It also provides cognitive support to keep your pup level-headed.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is the “anti-stress” vitamin. In dog calming treats, it works to strengthen your dog’s immune system and reduce stress.
Chamomile is full of health benefits for dogs. Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and sedative properties to help dogs feel relaxed.
Green tea helps soothe stress from pain and irritation. And, green tea is a good ingredient in calming treats.
L-tryptophan boosts serotonin production in your dog’s brain to reduce stress. Many proteins contain it and manufacturers commonly include it as an ingredient in calming chews for dogs.
L-theanine is one of the safe amino acids for dogs suffering from anxiety. L-theanine is an alternative to prescription medications like Prozac and Valium.
Melatonin has sedative properties and treats separation anxiety in dogs. Always talk to your veterinarian before adding melatonin to your dog’s health regimen.
Valerian root is an herbal supplement used to treat anxiety and improve sleep in dogs. Valerian root may also help aid in fear of loud noises and separation anxiety.
If your dog is a nursing mother dog, pregnant, has underlying health conditions, or puppy, valerian root is not safe. Talk to your veterinarian to learn if valerian root is safe for your dog.
Do dog calming treats work
Dog calming treats help reduce anxiety symptoms in dogs through natural properties that trigger a cognitive response in your dog's brain.
For many dogs, calming treats promote relaxation and boost mood. But, not all calming treats are created equal.
Some calming aids for dogs may not work to keep your dog calm. However, most anxious dogs can benefit from calming aids.
Benefits of calming treats
The properties of calming treats for dogs have the following benefits:
Promote relaxation and maintain calmness
The ingredients in calming treats help boost serotonin and dopamine, the happy chemicals in your dog’s brain. This helps your pup feel less stressed when they need it.
Reduce anxiety and improve stress levels
The herbs and natural substances in dog calming treats affect their mental state, making them feel more positive and relaxed.
Limit destructive behaviors and aggressive behavior
In stressful moments, dogs may act out aggressively or destructively like barking, chewing, and growling. The ingredients in calming treats level your dog’s mood and keep them relaxed instead of acting out.
Are calming treats safe for dogs
Calming treats are safe for dogs, as long as pet parents only give their dog the recommended dosage. Your dog's weight often determines their dosage. The package of treats also has the correct dose written on it.
But, every dog is different. Good calming treats for one individual dog may not work for other dogs. And, not all ingredients in calming treats are safe for every dog.
Calming dog treats are rarely toxic to dogs when eaten in large amounts. But, avoid giving your dog more than the recommended dosage. Sleepiness and lethargy are the most common side effects of calming treats for dogs.
If your dog has an adverse reaction to dog calming treats like gastric upset or vomiting, stop treating your pet. Schedule a check up at an office of veterinary medicine to learn about other calming products.
What to look for in calming treats
When choosing a calming aid for your dog, consider an option that is made with vet-quality ingredients and proven effective. And, the option you choose should be safe for your dog based on their allergies, current health conditions, and weight.
The calming aid you choose should be effective at reducing stress and anxiety in your dog. Not all dogs react the same way to all calming products. You may need to try a few products until you find the perfect fit for your pup.
The best calming aids are scientifically tested and proven safe and effective for dogs. Your vet may recommend a specific calming product based on its scientific testing.
Your dog’s calming treat should be safe and made with vet-quality ingredients. Unsure which option is safe for your dog? Talk to your veterinarian about different calming options.
Types of calming dog treats
There are plenty of options for pet parents who want to treat their dog with a calming treat or calming chew. Some popular calming products for dogs include:
- Prescription medications
- Alternative methods
There are lots of calming supplements with ingredients that help dogs find their zen.
Dog owners can find calming supplements at pet stores and online retailers. Zesty Paws® Calming Bites and VetIQ Calming Supplement Soft Chews are popular options.
Hemp calming treats
Hemp has naturally occurring compounds that have calming effects on dogs. Hemp calming treats are safe for dogs, as long as they are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) free.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in hemp that can treat stress, anxiety, and pain in dogs. And, it may help with sleep regulation in puppies. CBD treats and hemp treats are not the same — not all hemp treats contain CBD.
CBD oil isn't the same in every calming product. Talk to your veterinarian before giving your pup CBD to keep them calm.
While prescription medications aren’t treats, pet parents give them to their pet orally. There are prescription medication options for dogs needing stronger calming effects.
Because anxiety can present itself in different ways, there are short-term and long-term options for medication.
Some common prescription anxiety medications for dogs include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax®)
- Clomipramine (Clomicalm®)
- Diazepam (Valium®)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac®)
- Sertraline (Zoloft®)
To treat your dog with prescription medications, you need a prescription from a vet. Talk to your vet about if prescription calming medication is right for your pet.
Calming pheromone diffusers
Pheromone diffusers mimic the effects of pheromones that make dogs feel happy and relaxed. They diffuse positive chemicals that can make pets less stressed and anxious.
Calming sprays also mimic pheromones and keep your dog stress-free. Pet parents can use calming sprays anywhere in their pet’s environment, including:
- In their kennel
- On furniture
- On their dog bed
- On toys
- In the car for travel
Filling a lick mat with your dog’s favorite treat is a non-medicinal way to keep your dog calm and comfortable in stressful situations. A great time to use a lick mat would be if you’re hosting guests or visiting a new environment that may be stressful for your dog.
Consider trying a lick mat to keep them busy in times of stress. Pet parents can add peanut butter, unflavored yogurt, or mashed fruit to their dog’s lick mat.
Everyday enrichment works to boost your dog’s overall health and happiness. When your dog’s brain is stimulated, they are naturally calmer.
To add enrichment to your dog’s life, be sure to:
- Exercise them daily
- Introduce new toys
- Practice training regularly
When to use calming chews
Dogs can use most calming treats on a daily basis. But there are some specific scenarios when your dog may benefit from a calming treat:
- Stressful situations
- Exposure to loud noises
- After injury for pain relief
- Vet visits
To give your dog a calming treat, try breaking it into small pieces and adding it to your dog's food. Pet owners can also cover calming chews in peanut butter, or use them as high-reward training dog treats.
As a rule of thumb, it's safe for dog owners to treat their pup with dog calming treats day-to-day. If your dog does not need a calming aid daily, consider using calming treats sparingly in stressful situations.
Just like humans, it's normal for pets to feel stress and anxiety. As pet owners, helping your pet stay calm in stressful situations is an important job. Calming products for dogs are a safe option and may be the key to keeping your pet's anxiety at bay.
Support your dog's health in every stage of life.