Dogs can experience symptoms of anxiety for a wide variety of reasons, including changes in environment and circumstances, loud noises, separation from owners, conflict with other pets or family members, confusion in the "pecking order" of the household and a past history of neglect or abuse. These problems are best addressed with the advice of a veterinarian or a animal behavioral therapist, but there are a number of natural remedies that can help to support the well-being of your pet at home.
Support at Home
You can do a lot for your pet by simply making sure that its home environment is warm, safe and supportive. Make sure it has a quiet, safe place where it can eat and drink in peace, and if needed take some time out, is important. Give your dog plenty of toys to chew on and bond with it through grooming, walks and playing games. Some pets may reflect the anxieties or behaviors of their owners, so if someone at home is going through a stressful time, the dog may pick up on it. In some cases special dog training may be required.
Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Remedies were formulated by physician and homeopath Dr. Edward Bach in 1930 and are used to treat stress and negative emotions. These remedies are safe for pets and can easily be added to food or water or dropped into an animal's mouth. Aspen is recommended for generalized fear and anxiety, Mimulus for fear of something specific, Walnut for adjusting to change, Elm for feeling overwhelmed, White Chestnut for worry and sleeplessness, and Red Chestnut for separation anxiety. Rescue Remedy is a Bach Flower combination recommended for shock, terror and grief.
Herbal medicine uses plants and plant extracts for supporting the nervous system and reducing anxiety. According to Dr. Viv Harris in her book "The Healthy Animal Handbook," several herbs are safe for use with dogs, including St. John's wort for anxiety and depression, valerian root for stress and restlessness, passionflower for anxiety and insomnia, skullcap as a nervous system tonic and licorice root for chronic stress and exhaustion. You can boiled these into teas by adding 5 g of the chosen herb to a cup of boiling water. Recommended dosage for teas for a 15 kg dog is 5 ml three times daily. Note: St. John's wort should not be combined with prescribed medications.
Just as with humans, the diet of your pet can have a profound effect on its health and well-being. While most dog food has been researched for nutritional balance, adding extra nutritional yeast to food can provide a natural food source of B vitamin complex to help with stress, adrenal gland health and the health of the nervous system. Combine nutritional yeast with extra calcium in the form of bone meal, crushed eggshells or sea vegetables to prevent a mineral imbalance. One tsp of Nutritional Yeast daily for a 15 kg dog is recommended.