What to Look For in Calming Aid for Dogs
Uses for Calming Aids
Calming aids may be helpful in situations where dogs might become stressed or anxious. That can include:
- Travel—Some dogs might get stressed when traveling by car or plane.
- Separation anxiety—Dogs may experience anxiety when left alone.
- Loud noises—Dogs may become frightened or stressed during thunderstorms or fireworks.
- Vet visits—Dogs may be anxious when going to the vet, particularly if they’ve had unpleasant experiences in the past.
- New places—Dogs may be stressed when they are someplace new, like a different home.
“An important aspect of reducing stress and anxiety is predicting the event that may cause your pet to be triggered into an unwanted state of anxiety,” says Dr. Caos. You know fireworks will happen on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, so plan for these events by giving calming aids about two hours before the noise happens. “While calming aids can be helpful, they should not be used as a substitute for proper training, socialization, or medical treatment when necessary. If you are unsure whether a calming aid is appropriate for your dog, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian.”
There are different natural substances that have been studied for their calming properties. “While these ingredients have been shown to have some calming effects in dogs, it’s important to note that their effectiveness may vary depending on the individual dog and the specific situation in which they are used,” says Caos.
Some common active ingredients include:
- L-theanine—Amino acid found in green tea and some mushrooms that has been shown to reduce anxiety in some dogs
- Valerian root—Herb with sedating properties that has been used to treat sleep issues and anxiety in people and dogs
- Chamomile—Popular herb used for calming properties and to reduce anxiety
- Passionflower—Herb traditionally used for anxiety and to help with sleep
- Pheromones—These can mimic the calming feelings of a nursing mother to her puppies
- Melatonin—Hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycle and may ease anxiety in dogs
Side Effects and Risks
Calming aids are generally considered safe for dogs, however, each pet may react differently. “It’s always important to follow the recommended dosage instructions for any calming aid, and to closely monitor your dog’s behavior and response to the aid,” says Caos. “If you notice any adverse effects, stop using the product immediately and consult with your veterinarian.”
Here are some side effects to consider:
- Allergic reactions—Dogs may have an allergic reaction to specific ingredients, which can cause itching, swelling, and breathing issues.
- Interactions—They can interact with some other medications, so consult with your vet before adding supplements to your dog’s diet.
- Behavioral changes—Some dogs may experience the opposite effect from calming and may get agitated when given certain supplements, says Caos.
- Overdose—Taking too much of a calming aid can cause drowsiness or lethargy, and even lead to respiratory issues and seizures.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets
To find the best calming aids for dogs, we tested a range of products on our own pets. We also consulted with veterinarians about what to look for when shopping, asked dog owners about their favorite products, and sifted through loads of online product reviews.
This article was researched and written by Mary Jo DiLonardo who has covered animals and pets for several decades. Mary Jo has fostered more than 60 dogs and puppies. She is always searching for the healthiest and most effective products to use with them such as best dog toys and best car safety seats and restraints.