We all deal with stress from time to time, and our pets are no different. While some dogs are more anxious than others, most dogs will have at least one thing that causes them stress, whether it’s a car ride, fireworks, a thunderstorm, or moving to a new house. There are medications that can help, but you might want to start with something a little milder first. Here are 6 natural ingredients known to help dogs who are scared of car rides.
(As always, consult with your vet before introducing anything new into your dog’s diet.)
#1 – Valerian
Valerian is a sedative herb that relieves tension, anxiety, and over-excitability in dogs. Valerian can be bought dried or in capsule form and given to the dog orally, wrapped in a piece of cheese, or with a treat. There are also many tasty soft chews made for dogs that contain valerian. Give it to the dog before situations that tend to cause anxiety and over-excitability in your dog.
#2 – Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that naturally rises in the bloodstream when animals sleep. Giving it to them when they are awake can help calm them down during stressful situations. It may be especially effective in dogs with separation anxiety issues, as its calming effects may last up to 8 hours. Be sure to read the ingredients before sharing your melatonin – it may contain Xylitol or other ingredients that are toxic for dogs.
#3 – Lavender (Scent)
You probably already know that the scent of lavender helps you to relax and fall asleep, but did you realize it can have the same calming effect on your dog? The scent of lavender actually reduces the body’s production of cortisol, the stress hormone, and it doesn’t have the same sedative effects of some of the other ingredients on this list. A drop or two of lavender oil in a place where your dog can’t ingest it will help relieve their anxiety.
#4 – Passionflower
Passionflower has been used since the mid 1500s as a sleep aid and sedative. Studies have shown that it can actually lower your brain activity and boost levels of GABA, a feel-good chemical. In humans, it’s been shown to be as effective as benzodiazepine medications such as Valium and Xanax in treating anxiety. It also has less of a sedative effect than other herbs. This can be a great option for highly anxious dogs.
#5 – Lemon Balm
A member of the mint family, lemon balm has been used since the Middle Ages to soothe nerves, relieve indigestion, and remedy insomnia. This sedative herb is effective in treating excitability and anxiety in dogs.
#6 – Chamomile
If you’ve ever suffered from insomnia, you’ve probably tried chamomile tea to help you sleep. Chamomile calms the nerves and induces sleep. It can also calm the stomach and ease digestive problems. You can give chamomile tea to your dog or soak a dog treat in the tea.