Natural ways to help alleviate your dog’s anxiety
From the FREEDOM ISSUE / By Janice Frank
For many dogs, summertime can be a terrifying time of year (mine are raising their paws over here). Jarring sounds from thunderstorms and fireworks that sometimes come out of the blue are no picnic for pups! It’s natural for them to be afraid of loud noises, as the sounds trigger their nervous system, causing anxiety and fear. Visible signs of distress may include heavy panting, pacing or shaking, yawning, drooling and licking, hiding, and even really funky odor—AKA fear funk.
Pet parents can feel absolutely helpless during these times! Obvious safety measures should be taken, such as creating a small space indoors away from windows, using background sounds from the tv, soothing music or a white noise machine. However, for many dogs, these efforts provide little relief.
So, what are pet parents to do? Well, you could completely sound-proof your home to eradicate any sputter of pyrotechnics, or you could pack everyone up and drive to a cave far from any sign of festivities. Unwilling to do these options? Don’t blame ya. Let’s explore some practical, drug-free ways we can help alleviate anxiety in our pets, shall we?
(I personally like to seek out natural ways to help my dogs, and I’ve seen great results. But if this isn’t your jam, then please consult your veterinarian for additional ways to help your dogs.)
Steve Huber, owner of Earth Pets Natural Food Store, suggests when looking for calming aids to treat sudden triggers, seek out fast-acting GABA-producing herbs such as as Valerian root and Passion Flower as lead ingredients. GABA, technically known as Gamma Aminobutyric Acid, is an important neurotransmitter naturally produced by the brain. When released, it works to inhibit nerve impulses in the brain and nervous system, effectively balancing stress response. Research has found that too little GABA in the nervous system can contribute to feelings of panic and anxiety. Other known supplements such as CBD, while an effective anxiety reliever, is not fast acting and requires some time to build up in the body. If your dog tends to suffer from general anxiety, Steve recommends you start with a good quality daily CBD supplement and combine with a GABA-producing herbal aid during acutely stressful events.
So what are these magical herbs all about? Turns out, these chill plants have been around and used in medicine for quite some time. Here’s the rundown:
Valerian is an herb native to Asia and Europe whose root has been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years! Often referred to as “Nature’s Valium,” this fast-acting herb signals the brain to release the calming chemical, GABA.
Passion Flower lowers brain activity while boosting GABA. Both Passion Flower and Valerian work to inhibit the breakdown in the brain similar to Valium and Xanax, but without the side effects.
Ashwagandha is a Chinese herb classified as an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body to manage stress by blocking the stress pathway by regulating chemical signaling in the nervous system. This serves as a great general anxiety reliever and also complimentary to Valerian root and Passion Flower.
Chamomile is another well-studied constituent, and serves as a mild sedative and anti-anxiety, muscle-relaxing antispasmodic.
Talk about plant power! These herbs come from Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet and can be a tremendous help in soothing our pets without leaving them wonky-eyed or comatose. Look for supplements produced in the correct dosage for pets, and if your dog is taking medications, please do your research to make sure taking herbs is okay.
Cheers to a calm and tranquil summer for everyone! •
The staff at Earth Pets is more than happy to help if you have questions about natural support in dealing with your pet’s anxiety.
/ Earth Pets Natural Food Store
11740 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville • (904) 677-4429