Anxiety and Stress Cures for Pets

Jun 18, 2015

As much as you relate to your pet as another member of your household or even your family, you may be surprised to know that even pets become stressed. Just as people panic or stress, so do pets. Your animal's nervous system is just as susceptible to environmental and relational stressors as yours is. While animals are designed to cope with stress, repeated exposure to uncontrolled stimuli can lead to health defects in your pet. You can help your pet cope, though, by working to prevent stress and using natural remedies such as herbs and behavior management.

Is Your Pet Stressed?

You may still be pondering the question, “Do pets even get stressed?” The answer is a resounding, yes. And, the fact is that animals have fewer alternative coping methods for stress than even you do. Nonetheless, probably the most important question to be asking yourself right now is, “Is your pet stressed?”

Your pet exhibits indicative behaviors when it is stress; however, you might read these as bad behavior or even just excitement. Common behaviors associated with stress or anxiety include quivering or shaking, panting, licking its lips, “glazed” eyes, tucking tail, and pacing. Your pet may also exhibit a change in elimination or even eating behaviors if stress is a factor.

How Does Stress Affect Your Pet's Health?

Your pet is susceptible to many of the same health problems that you are. Stress depresses the immune system and makes your pet less able to ward off other diseases. It is also likely to develop issues with high blood pressure or coronary heart disease caused by stress. Other health conditions that may be exacerbated by stress include autoimmune diseases, diabetes, ulcers, digestive issues, memory loss, infertility, skin and coat issues, muscle tension, and fatigue.

What Causes Stress and Anxiety In Your Pet?

Pets often develop anxiety as a result of many of the same factors that cause people stress. Some of the most common causes of anxiety in your pet include a new person in the home, fireworks, storms, a new home, being enclosed, a vet visit, or getting lost. Some breeds are more susceptible to stress than others.

How Can You Relieve Stress and Anxiety In Your Pet?

Because your pet cannot vocalize its stress, it is important that you monitor its behavior and provide coping support when the animal becomes stressed. In some cases, you can eliminate stressors by shutting your curtains during a storm or keeping your animal inside during fireworks. Some animals require more aggressive treatment, though. You can help your pet cope with stress by helping your pet avoid triggers, practicing desensitization techniques, and providing herbal support. Behavior modification is another effective management technique for anxiety.

1. Avoid Triggers

Helping your animal avoid triggers is one of the simplest yet most difficult treatment options. To avoid triggers you first have to identify the issue, such as thunderstorms, and then find ways to avoid or deter the triggers, such as providing a safe room for your pet.

2. Desensitization

Desensitizing your pet is another option. You can achieve this by exposing your pet to the trigger at comfortable levels until the fear is extinguished. Using the storm as an example, you could play sounds of a storm in an otherwise controlled environment. The more the animal is exposed to the trigger, the less its fear becomes.

3. Skullcap

Skullcap or Scutellaria laterifolia is one of the most effective herbs for treating anxiety. The herb contains active compounds that soothe the nervous system and ease anxiety. A common dose is 1 gram by mouth per day.

Keep reading for more home remedies for pet anxiety and stress from our readers, or add your own suggestion below!

References:

Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs - http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/ behavioral/c_dg_fears_phobia_anxiety?page=2
Proven Ways to Calm Your Dog… - http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/ healthypets/archive/2014/02/14/dog-maladaptive-stress-response.aspx



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Posted by Stilifewatrcolr (Boulder, Co, USA) on 08/16/2009

Flower Remedies for Separation Anxiety in Dogs:

I adopted my 3 y/o dog from the Humane Society about 7 months ago. Adopted dogs will have their issues, and Sadie has hers. She is the sweetest thing, but she did have severe separation anxiety. Upon me leaving, she would scratch and tear at doors and windows. She knows to go outside, but continued to have housetraining issues. She escaped my house jumping through screens and windows a number of times and eventually ripped up the carpet and tore off the door frame in my room just trying to get out. She wriggles out of almost any collar or harness when left for even a minute to run into a store. She was obviously getting extremely stressed and, along with having huge bills to pay for her damages, I felt terrible letting her feel so anxious. Last weekend I went and got a mix of flower remedies specifically for separation anxiety and I have noticed a HUGE difference. She has calmed down so much. She still has energy and is excited when I come home, but is not so stressed. My roommate forgot to put her in her crate when she left the house the other day (which I had to resort to after all the damage even though Sadie was strongly opposed) and when we came home she was out, but was content and nothing had been damaged. I give Sadie 8 drops of the oil 2x/day directly on her food (since I feed her 2x/day).

The specific mix that I got includes: Aspen, Beech, Cerato, Chicory, Heather, Holly, Red Chestnut, 5-Flower Remedy, Sweet Chestnut, Vervain, Cat's Claw, Mariposa Lily, St. Johns Wort, Blackberry, Tomato, Snowberry, Cathedral Rock Vortex, Mt. Moran, Kinnickinnick, Fox.

Feel free to mix and match and research the purpose of each essence and how it relates to your pet. You can get essences separately, or already mixed.
I highly recommend!

Replied by Birdie
Calgary, Alberta Canada
02/05/2012

I think the root of the problem in dogs anxiety is how much heavy metals they have in their system due to vaccinations, generally. Mercury is present in vaccinations (thimoserol) and in dry dog food diets (sprayed on growing grain as a fungicide) and is not expelled but tends to accumulate. I used zeolite powder (healthforce brand) in my dobermans water, within a week, my dogsitter said the dog quit hiding under the table, now I notice she sits up in the car, looks out the window and takes an interest in the outside world, whereas previously she would just lay her head on the seat and not look out the window at all due to nervousness. Today I noticed at the dogsitter that she did not cringe going into the main dogplay area when all the other dogs charged up to her to say hi, previously she would curl into a ball, quivering; also when I picked her up she seemed quite happy instead of "take me home NOW! " Convinced?? YOU BET!! If you dont get rid of the cause you can forever just "treat" the symptoms. She prefers the zeolite powdered water and will ignore regular water! My friends baby DIED 5 hours after it received a vaccination! If THAT doesnt convince a person of the dangers of heavy metal shots, I dont know what would!

Replied by [email protected]
Alexandria, Va
02/22/2012

Birdie, Thanks for your post. I have a 13 year old Bichon who has suddenly developed serious separation anxiety when left alone. She pants and scratches at anything-floors, carpets, doors and frames, gates, etc, as an attempt to get out and often becomes destructive in an attempt to 'escape'. She shakes and is visibly scared. She is already on a special Vet prescribed diet for her ID and is on a daily dose of Prednosone. I rarely give her anything outside of the prescribed diet. I have hired a trainer for our home to help me with setting bounderies and identifying other behavior problems and tried Bach Flower remedies and the Thundershirt and recently out of desperation doggie prozac (Reconcile). She seemed to be making some progress (or maybe I saw what was not there) but no change. I am desperate. I have to work and am unable to stay home. I have a dog walker come in and take her out twice daily.... She is an absolute joy and my heart and essentially sleeps all the time when she is with me or with company. Another dog for company is not an option. I am at my wits end. Any advice? Anyone?

Replied by Greater
Sarasota, Florida, US
06/10/2012
5 out of 5 stars

This is a Yay for Bach's Flower Remedy for Pets.

I was happily surprised that this worked so well for my anxious and depressive cat. This was not a cure-all, but it's broken the cycle. I can now play with her, groom her, and give her the proper attention without her whining incessantly, snapping at me, and becoming overstimulated and freaking herself out. Prior to this, it just seemed impossible to do anything at all. This was just what we needed.

It's not a tranquilizer, but somehow it's brought my cat into a new state of overall balance and well being, which I've been able to support through other commonsense techniques.

In short, this has helped one cat with the following conditions:

  • separation anxiety
  • depression
  • restlessness
  • incessant mewing
  • over-stimulation while playing/being pet

We're both pleased to see the change.

Replied by Bea
Austin, Texas
11/17/2012

@Greater from Saratosa FL regarding the her use of "Bach's Flower Remedy for Pets"

Do you mix different flowers if so, which ones? Or do you get an already mixed bottled, if so, what name?

My 8 yro Dobe has been rather lethargy at home - almost depressed-like, whines all the time, aloof and disobedient, want to go outside but on guard for my attention and defient at times but in a passive-aggressive like manner. Overly hyper and uncontrable when being pet. Defient as in wont answer to commands (come, inside... ) yet trembles at the same time when called, yet cant have enough petting. Goes from hyperly receptive to petting to comatose-like & aloof attitude when petting ends. Appears to have bad dreams when sleeping as he shakes, twists and turns and sometime whines in deep sleep. I feed him Precise Holistic Complete with home supplemental of 1sp of canned salmon, 1/2 cup formula, or alternate sweet potatoes with a cook egg and when I feel like maybe some cooked beef liver. Looks healthy just behaviorwise he is a mess! Thanks/Bea

Replied by Sean
Thailand
04/30/2015

I would try Oatmeal, used it for years now, I have quite a few Dogs, I keep an eye on all of them and if I notice 3 or 4 days of one or more being upset or needing attention more then usual or not wanting to be with the others

I then give a few tablespoons to the one or those who are upset and to the others just a pinch so they do not feel left out or that I Love One More Then the Other

I do it for around 3 - 4 days and give less each day to the one or more who is upset, Calms them down and I give alittle more attention to the one or more who is upset, while not letting the others see me do it.

Always try to keep them Calm and a Routine, Treats at the sametime of day and night, letting them out at the sametime of day and night, bedtime at the same or close to the sametime as possible

I don't give them play toys to fight over or get upset about, they play with each other and when they do I watch them to make sure no one gets to wild and if they do I Calm them down and let them keep playing with me now involved in the playing

Someone was talking about separation anxiety, if I'm gone all day and come home, I Never give them treats right away or Hugs and Kisses

I Ignore Them for about 15 - 20 minutes and walk past them or around them, while not petting or Acknowledging any of them, its very hard to do, but its better for the Dog that You do this


Posted by Hope (Sacramento, CA) on 01/27/2009
5 out of 5 stars

For nervousness and anxiety in animals, Dr. Bach's Rescue Remedy, made from flower essences, works like a gem.... one dropperful is quite effective - I have seen even this very small amount work wonders with a nervous horse!

Replied by Ana
Houston, Texas
04/03/2011
1 out of 5 stars

Warning

Allright, will someone please reply; Dr Bach's Rescue Remedy contains XYLITOL which is deadly to dogs and cats, why are some people giving it to pets for anxiety?

EC: We just checked the Bach site and it looks like some of the Bach flower rescue remedies do indeed contain xylitol...You can read the ingredients for each product here: http://www.bachflower.com/rescue-remedy-information/

The ones that list xylitol are: Rescue Night and Rescue Pastilles.

Replied by Layle
Cornelius, Nc, Usa
08/03/2011

There is a Bach Rescue Remedy specifically for dogs/pets without xylitol. If you decide to try this, make sure you're purchasing the remedy for pets and read the ingredients label.

http://www.bachflower.com


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Posted by Diamond (Ma., US) on 11/15/2014

To every one with dogs that have anxiety and/or separation issues. I read an article on this and I found it to work wonders. When I am ready to go out, my dog starts getting upset, I do not pay attention to him as it adds to his anxiety. I have a Kong toy and fill it with his favorite treat which is his own dog food mixed with peanut-butter, then put it into the kong toy. This toy is made from hard solid rubber and it has ripples on the outside to clean his teeth. It generally takes him a very long time to get his treats all out so by then he is tired out and sleeps. The plus side is he loves soft meditation music and he sleeps like a baby. I find this meditation music on my computer in search engine. He seems to always be calm if I am or not at home as long as soft music is playing. Good Luck every one. Keep me up to date on your results.Also I use "cats claw" for my dog's kennel cough/a great natural probiotic.


Posted by Barbara (Carleton Place, Ontario) on 01/27/2009

You do not have a listing, under pet ailments, titled anxiety or stress. Surely there is a home remedy and pet-owner feed back for this ailment?? Thank you for your time.

EC: Thank you for the suggestion, Barbara. New page has been created.

Please send in your remedies!

Replied by Donna
Pittsburgh, PA
03/16/2009

i just wanted to respond to posting something for stress in cats.. unfortunatly, i dont have a remedy.. i have a 8yr old oriental lilac.. i wasnt really looking for a fancy cat but he was full of energy and adorable..he is always stressed out. he has 2 conditions that are brought on by stress. feline herpes virus in his eyes.{btw. lysine is great for that} and sterile cystitis. {btw ACV work great for that.] for the last few yrs, he has had a very strong twitch. so strong it has woken me up from my sleep, he was sleeping on me of course.. it dosnt seem to bother him after it happens. but i hate when it does.. it like he chomps with his teeth.. in his sleep and little twitches in the day.. i dont want to take him to a vet to pump him up with drugs.. not a big fan of the vet..i would love to find a natural remedy to calm him down..all the remidies i use, are from this site.. please help me again.. donna

Replied by Avo
Toronto, Ontario Canada
12/29/2010
5 out of 5 stars

I consulted a homeopathic veterinarian who gave me a drop solution that has worked wonders for my 3 -9 yr old cats. I have since found it online as HOMEOPET ANXIETY FORMULA drops. (see their website for details)

One of my cats is very fussy about tastes and additives to food - she won't touch it. But she has eaten this one!!! You give 5 drops with canned food per meal up to 3 times per day and voila, you will see a great improvement. You give it consistently for a couple of weeks and can gradually decrease the drops as they show improvement. Or you can give it immediately to the mouth in acute situations. Homeopathic remedies are a wonder and I didn't believe they would work either, but was at my wits end for something. IT worked!!!

There is another remedy I bought at my local pet store, by NATURAL PET Pharmaceticals called STRESS CONTROL. It is a liquid you add a capful to their water bowl. It doesn't seem to have the same effect when added to their food, as the HOMEOPET ANXIETY formula.

Replied by Amym
Columbus, Oh
01/12/2012

We use HomeoPet's Anxiety TLFN for our Chihuahua who is terrified of the. I thought it was ridiculous but it WORKS GREAT. He's much calmer and isn't drugged and dopey like he was on his prescription medication. Highly recommend.


Homeopathic Remedies, Dietary Changes  

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Posted by Om (Hope, B. C. Canada) on 03/14/2013
5 out of 5 stars

My rescue German shepherd was too old to be spayed. I know about vet medicines but would never use them as they are detrimental to animal's health and have severe side effects. This was my experience. This dog had extreme anxiety symptoms for two years. She ravaged her tail, gave out shrieks every day and chased her raw tail end. It was trying. She was very noise sensitive and when she heard the kitchen blender or a police sirene she went into fits every time. Then, by a fluke I came across the homeopatic remedy LILIUM TIGRINUM. Supposed to help with restless dog behaviour and females in heat. I ordered it from a health food store and gave one dose, followed by another and one more three days later. From the start of this treatment this poor dog is a calm, content animal. I do not have to repeat this dose. I find Bach remedies not powerful enough for very serious behaviour issues. I home cook for all my rescue pets and stay clear of preservatives and non organic foods. Nutritional yeast provides the valuable b vitamins needed, fish oil, kelp powder for minerals and coconut oil. And, of course, ACV.

Another issue the presence of parasites which can have a bearing on behaviour as the nutrients are being depeted, leaving the animal with a very impaired nervous system. Parasites do not show all the time in stool and I believe in deworming pets twice a year. If it is very bad, one has to resort to vet meds. However neem capsules (3 for shep. size) several times per week with freshly powdered cloves in the food to kill the eggs, and colloidal silver water to drink for a period can address this problem without ill effects on their health.

Kali is now calm and does not yell anymore. Hope this helps. Om


Magnesium  

Posted by Melissa (London, England) on 03/26/2009

dog anxiety/stress- Magnesium:

I have a very nervy German Sheperd bitch. Lovely as she is her anxiety is causing problems with meeting new people/dogs.

I obviously attract nutty animals as i also have a mare of a similar character, anyway, to cut a long story short i have heard amazing things about Magnesium in horses, basically when they get stressed out their bodys level of magnesium deprieciate, and magnesium is vital to keeping us 'calm and collected', call it natural prozac. It has been proven to help calm animals, i advise to buy a supplement rather than home dose as strength must vary.

They do it for dogs too!!!

It will only work if you're dog/horse has low magnesium levels (ie rather than simply not excercised/trained enough etc) obviously this could be checked by blood tests at the vet but apparently dosn't cause harm if fed, worth a go i say, im going to try it and will let you know the results. Nupafeed does it in tablet or liquid form for both animals.

Replied by Haggar
Mn, Usa
06/30/2010

How did the Mag. work with your dog?


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Posted by Allie (Charlotte, Nc) on 06/17/2015
5 out of 5 stars

I have a macaw parrot who has endured 2 years of relentless transition. She is a trooper who has hung in there whole heartedly through it all. But alas, the stress has finally taken its toll. She has started pulling feathers from her chest, neck, shoulders, under her wings and legs. It breaks my heart to see her suffer like this, especially because it's my fault for dragging her through the hell I've been living!

I took her to a vet to see if I could do anything about it. I already treat her water with 6-8 drops of Rescue Remedy which works wonders on separation anxiety! The vet recommended Melatonin and an additional supplement. But finding a concentrated amount was a challenge! (You can't force feed a parrot 2 tbs of medicine.) She is about 2lbs and needs 1-2mg per dose. Finally, I found a concentrated melatonin liquid product (10mg/ml - WOW) that she will eat on Hawaiian Sweet Bread!!! You can find it at Puritan's Pride. Amazing stuff and inexpensive (btw...people can take it too). All she needs is 1 drop and within 15 minutes she's already snoozing. It's been a saving grace as I see our way through this Divine Storm and can get our lives stable again.

I highly recommend this for other pet owners to try. Of course, **please** check with your vet first for permission, safety, and dosage for your pet!

Here's to helping our little soulmates feel better!