Dealing with stress and anxiety in dogs is hard…. Hard on you and especially hard on your pup. While it can sometimes be very challenging, stress and anxiety don’t need to signal the end of the world for your dog. There are things that you can do and products that you can try to help ease the problem.
Today we’ll be taking a look at some of the best calming aids for dogs with anxiety and stress.
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Signs of stress and anxiety in dogs
Dogs exhibit stress in a multitude of ways and for a variety of reasons. Common behavioral signs of stress and anxiety in dogs include;
- Pacing and restlessness
- Hyper-salivation, hyper-vigiliance
- Panting, lip-licking, yawning
- Trembling, barking, whining
- Cowering, hiding, growling, freezing
- Tucked ears, tucked tail, raised hackles
- Whale-eye (when you can see the whites of their eyes)
- Baring teeth or “smirking”
In some dogs these behavioral signs (or “cues”) will be obvious, in others, they are more subtle.
In order for you to better manage your dog’s anxiety and stress (and hopefully overcome it one day), it’s really important that you recognize these cues when they occur so that you can better understand the root cause of your dog’s stress and anxiety, and inevitably develop a plan for overcoming it.
In the meantime, there are products that can help…
Best calming aids for fearful dogs
For dogs that respond to anxiety-inducing triggers this way, creating a “safe space” that they can retreat to is paramount.
Types of products that can help to create this “safe space” include items such as calming cuddler pet beds, doggy dens, weighted anxiety relief dog blankets, familiar toys, and smells (like mom’s dressing gown!).
Dog calming sprays and diffusers like those from Adaptil (pictured below) can also help to create a calming ambiance and environment for your dog.
Others swear by the use of dog-friendly essential oils like chamomile and lavender (when used in a diffuser). Just don’t let your dog ingest them! Lavender can be toxic if eaten.
Best calming aids for dogs in stressful situations
Fireworks, thunderstorms, car travel, vet visits, unfamiliar people, animals, and surroundings can be stressful for some dogs.
In addition to creating a safe space for your dog to retreat to if possible, on-the-go products like calming sprays, calming collars, calming treats and anxiety vests and jackets can also prove helpful in stressful situations for some dogs;
Best calming aids for food-motivated dogs
Some dogs will refuse food in stressful situations, for those that don’t you may like to consider some of the below calming treat options. Common calming ingredients include hemp, valerian root, melatonin and, l-theanine.
LickiMats are also great for self-soothing (just spread something tasty on them for your dog to enjoy!). While treat-dispensing toys and long-lasting bones and chews can also provide a great distraction for food-motivated dogs during times of stress.
Best calming aids for puppies
Anxiety in puppies is common and usually stems from being left alone (a new and unfamiliar experience for them).
Can you imagine being taken away from your littermates and mother after 8 weeks together?! I’d be anxious too! Snuggle toys like the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy (with imitation heartbeat and heat pack), as well as calming diffusers like Adaptil, can also help.
Calming aids and tips for dogs with mild stress and anxiety
For some dogs simple distraction is sometimes all that is needed to relieve them of their worries.
Try re-directing their anxious energy toward something fun and challenging, like a new toy or brain game. Interactive toys and activity mats are great for mental stimulation and general well-being. They also promote your dog’s natural scavenging instincts!
Other considerations and final thoughts
Never underestimate the power of physical activity, play, and exercise for anxiety and stress relief in dogs.
Not only does it stimulate the production of the feel-good chemical, serotonin, it also helps to get rid of pent-up energy and tension which can sometimes make anxiety in dogs much worse!
Finally, if all else fails and you feel like you have tried everything, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet to rule out any potential underlying medical conditions as well as discuss any prescription medications that might be available to you.
Are you a cat parent, too?
If so, you may like to check out a similar read for cats over on our sister site, Whiskers Magoo;