A 2020 Finnish study of almost 14,000 dogs of hundreds of breed mixes found that about 70% of pet dogs display some form of anxiety — fear of sounds, strangers, other dogs and even their own shadow. Even if your dog is calm most of the time, you might worry about how to calm an anxious dog around holidays or during fireworks displays or large gatherings. Thankfully, many dog-calming products, including calming dog beds, are available. To help find the best pet products for pups with anxiety, we spoke to a veterinarian.
“Anti-stress products can help to improve the daily life of animals and their owners. In difficult cases, however, there are other means of action, such as behavioral therapies. Do not hesitate to consult a behavioral specialist (veterinarian or behaviorist),” says Dr. Jean-Pierre Lautier, DVM, of the AB7 Group and Alzoo. “Through a series of simple exercises, behavioral therapies can strengthen the pet-parent-pet relationship and create a climate of trust that limits the reasons for stress. This is especially true for dogs.”
But not all dog-calming products are created equally. “Some are made with synthetic pheromones or other natural ingredients,” adds Dr. Lautier. “Pet owners should consider whether they want products only for their home, such as a diffuser, or for every situation, such as a spray or collar. They should also consider how lasting their need is. Diffusers and collars are longer lasting while sprays need to be reapplied during specific situations.”
How to Know If You Need Dog-Calming Products
“The symptoms of stress are different for each species,” says Dr. Lautier. “In dogs, stress results in a wide variety of behaviors. Panting, outside of hot weather, is a fairly common sign. Some dogs express their stress by barking, often repetitively, which can cause neighborhood problems. Others behave aggressively or destructively, tearing apart furniture, clothes, carpets, and doors. Some dogs soil the house with their droppings. Treatment with calming products is appropriate for each case and should be combined with behavioral therapies.”
Once you start using dog-calming products, you may wonder how you’ll be able to tell whether or not they work. “The effectiveness of calming products is generally reflected in the disappearance or reduction of stress symptoms,” explains Dr. Lautier. “For dogs, the symptoms of stress are numerous: barking, destruction in the house, soiling, panting, whining, etc. Calming products reduce these symptoms. You’ll see the dog is calmer and more resistant to potential stresses, such as separation from its owners.”
Below are some ideas for how to calm an anxious dog and plenty of dog-calming treats and products.
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1. NaturVet Quiet Moments Calming Aid Plus Melatonin
NaturVet’s dog-calming soft chews have more than 28,000 Amazon reviews, with customers confirming that the treat works exceptionally well for separation anxiety, car rides and helping their best friends sleep through the night. Most dogs love the flavor, and dog owners appreciate the effective active ingredients — chamomile, thiamine (vitamin B1), passionflower, L-tryptophan (the sleepy ingredient in your Thanksgiving turkey) and melatonin (our naturally occurring sleepy brain chemical). They’ve also added ginger to soothe a nervous stomach.
These soft chews are Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. NaturVet is a member of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) — a nonprofit group dedicated to improving and standardizing the quality of products in the animal supplement industry. Available in pouches and tubs from 65-360-count packs, they’re appropriate for dogs 12 weeks and older. The number of chews given daily or per incident is based on your dog’s weight, and extra can be provided for particularly stressful events.
You can also get Quiet Moments Plus Hemp and Quiet Moments Senior Wellness in chews, tablets and drops. Hemp helps support your dog’s immune system function for optimal health. All are wheat-free.
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2. VetriScience Laboratories Composure Calming Supplement
This tasty peanut-butter-flavored, bite-sized soft chew contains a unique key ingredient. Their proprietary Colostrum Calming Complex Biopeptide Blend includes proteins that work to enhance the natural activity of the second ingredient, L-theanine. This amino acid found in green tea and mushrooms has antioxidant properties. It helps the body produce GABA and dopamine, the neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain that promote contentment and clarity without drowsiness. Added thiamine reduces nervousness. Your dog will love one or all flavors: bacon, chicken and peanut butter.
These dog-calming products are specifically designed to provide dog-calming support in the presence of environmental stressors (moving, having a new baby in the house or a trip to the vet). Unlike some chews and drops, customers say this formula calms without inducing drowsiness or changing their bubbly personalities.
VetriScience Laboratories Composure has been clinically tested and works within 30 minutes. The standard chews last up to four hours, while the long-lasting formula lasts up to eight. It’s also available in a formula specifically for smaller dogs. This mild formula is safe to double or triple during heightened stress.
3. Reggie Anytime Calming Supplement
The active ingredients in this daily dog-calming supplement include Magnolia Officinalis bark extract, L-theanine and ashwagandha, ingredients used for centuries in Chinese medicine to treat anxiety and various other health issues. The bark extract contains antioxidants that also reduce inflammation. Humans have used ashwagandha in Ayurvedic medicine and for centuries in India to relieve stress, increase energy levels and improve concentration.
Your dog will enjoy the inactive ingredients of these dog-calming products, including coconut and sunflower oils, natural peanut butter flavor and pork liver.
A friend used this supplement with her reactive American pit bull terrier. After initially wondering if the supplement was helping, she forgot to use it for a few days and noticed increased reactivity overall and a shorter fuse.
4. Finn Calming Aid
You’ll feel great about the quality of this veterinarian-approved, lab-tested, human-grade supplement made in the USA. The active ingredients—organic passionflower, L-tryptophan, valerian root, organic ginger root, L-theanine, organic chamomile and melatonin—are all known to calm the mind and body. Your dog will love the cheese, safflower oil, beef liver, organic honey and natural bacon flavor. Free of corn, soy, palm oil and other artificial ingredients, these soft chews are produced using a cold-press extrusion method that maximizes the ingredients’ potency and effectiveness.
They are GMP Certified members of the NASC. Unlike many dog-calming products, Finn packages their chews in 90-count reusable and recyclable round tin canisters.
I give my dogs a daily dose (based on weight) each evening after dinner to foster a chill environment. My dogs love the taste. Finn also partners with local animal shelters, donating a portion of their proceeds to help rescue efforts and giving shelters lots of Finn supplements — including their Hip & Joint, Multivitamin and Skin & Coat supplements.
5. Zesty Paws Advanced Calming Bites
Like the Reggie calming treats, these soft chews include L-theanine and ashwagandha, but they take it one step further. Their L-theanine is in the form of suntheanine, and the ashwagandha is the sensoril variety, and both have been clinically studied forms that promote focus, clarity and relaxation. They also help stimulate the brain’s alpha waves, encouraging calmness and composure.
Like the Finn chews, Zesty Paws are also members of NASC and are made with organic ginger root, L-tryptophan, organic passionflower and valerian root. Thiamine and organic chamomile act as relaxers that can help reduce jumping, biting and barking. These turkey-flavored chews are available in a standard form appropriate for daytime, and the advanced formula includes melatonin as a natural sleep aid.
6. Purina EverRoot Calming & Anxiety Liquid Packs for Dogs
Organic chamomile extract does the calming, but true contentment will come from this easy-to-open liquid pack’s organic peanut butter and fish oil. This simple formula, developed by a Ph.D. in animal nutrition, packs a punch. Peanut butter provides a range of proteins and vitamins, including choline for a relaxed brain and essential vitamins B-6 and B-9. The fish oil comes from wild-caught Alaskan salmon and cod from Marine Stewardship Council-certified fisheries. Packed with omega-3 fatty acids, EverRoot products are Non-GMO Project Verified and contain no antibiotics, grains or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
These are suitable for general hyperactivity, nervousness, or environmental stress without inducing sleepiness. Sold in bundles of 14, the dose depends on your dog’s weight, from half a pack for dogs under 20 pounds to two packs for dogs over 60 pounds.
You can also try their organic chewable tablets that include chamomile and L-theanine from green tea extract.
7. ThunderEase ThunderEssence Essential Oil Spray, Drops and ThunderShirt
Just smelling the right herbal scents can relax and improve mood. Dog’s noses are incredibly sensitive, so this aromatherapy works. Both the spray and the dropper form combine the essential oils lavender, chamomile, and Egyptian geranium. It’s specifically formulated for dogs, made in the USA and appropriate to use on furnishings, carpets, your car or kennel.
The drops are more concentrated while the spray spreads over larger areas. Neither form is appropriate for applying directly to your dog.
Each form is also designed to be used with the anxiety-reducing compression vest, ThunderShirt. You can choose one of the three or use them in combinations that suit your needs.
ThunderEase ThunderEssence Essential Oil Spray, Drops and ThunderShirt
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8. Bach Original Flower Remedies Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief for Pets
If you prefer homeopathic remedies, then this is the formula for you. This alcohol-free formula combines five flower essences — star of Bethlehem for comfort, rock rose for fearlessness, clematis for focus, impatiens for patience and cherry plum for composure.
The formula was developed by a British physician, Dr. Bach, with flowers from his garden. The formula is vegan and free of artificial flavors or colors, sugar, gluten and allergens. You can administer the drops directly to your dog’s tongue or drip them over their food or water. It’s also safe enough to combine with other calming or health and wellness products and appropriate for cats, horses, rabbits, birds and lizards.
Bach Original Flower Remedies Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief for Pets
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9. Adaptil Dog Calming Pheromone Diffuser
Diffusers are often wall plug-in units with an attached vial or reservoir of liquid ingredients. Electricity warms the liquid, evaporating slowly into the air around it. That liquid vapor and gas slowly spread throughout the space it’s in.
Adaptil uses a unique proprietary blend called “canine appeasing pheromone analog” to mimic a mother dog’s natural nursing pheromones to help take your dog back to their blissful puppy days. The diffuser isn’t recommended as a remedy for hyperactive or aggressive dogs. Still, it is a good fit for calming fears of strangers, loud noises and separation anxiety in your home or office.
The heated diffuser covers up to 700 square feet of space as long as airflow isn’t restricted. The manufacturers recommend that you position the diffuser where your dog spends most of their time, such as in the living room, and to avoid plugging the diffuser in under shelves and behind doors, curtains, or furniture, so outflow is not prevented. Generally, it would help if you replaced the vial once a month and the diffuser unit every six months.
ThunderEase Calming Phermone Diffuser and Alzoo All Natural Calming Diffusers were close runners in this category.
10. Alzoo Calming Collar
When your dog needs calming where ever they go, you’ll want to consider a collar. The Alzoo Calming Collar uses a blend of valerian and lavandin plant extracts infused directly into the collar. Customers find it a light, soothing scent that’s not overpowering.
The ingredients are cruelty-free, and it does not use synthetic pheromones or the harmful polyvinyl chloride or phthalates found in some other brands. Because the ingredients are natural, this collar is safe for your dog to wear daily.
“The Alzoo Calming Collar is long-lasting, more so than a spray,” notes Dr. Lautier. “It is more versatile, and it works for any occasion including the car, your home, for vets visits and works where ever your dog is.”
Each waterproof collar is effective for up to four weeks, and one size fits most dogs. A bonus is that Alzoo uses recycled and recyclable packaging. If you like the collar, you can also check out the calming spray and diffuser that Dr. Lautier helped develop.
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Why Trust SPY When Shopping for Pet Products?
Lorraine Wilde has had at least two cat and two dog companions in her home for the past 35 years. When researching these brands, Lorraine tested some of the products with her dogs and observed friends’ dogs who tested some brands. She also evaluated customer and professional reviews, the safety and health of the ingredients, and each company’s product research and development.
Because she has only the highest standards for her pets and her family, Lorraine included products she’d be willing to use in her own home with her dogs.
Lorraine holds a Master’s degree in environmental science with an emphasis in toxicology. She does this work to help consumers make healthy, informed and environmentally conscious choices to protect their pets, their families and our planet.
About the Expert: Jean-Pierre Lautier, DVM, of the AB7 Group and Alzoo, has been working with AB7 since 1993, where he has contributed to the research and development of a range of calming products, including the Alzoo products. Dr. Lautier has been passionate about cat and dog behavior analysis and management throughout his career. He earned his veterinary degree from the National Veterinarian School of Toulouse, France.