by Julie Johannes, Owner of Happy Hounds Pet Supply in Bigfork
In a pet owner’s life, what can be better than watching your pet when she gets the zoomies and zips back and forth with a ridiculous grin on her face? It is that boundless joy we wish for them at every moment in their far-too-short lives. However, there are sometimes unfortunate instances when they experience some form of anxiety, prompting us to find solutions that will swiftly return them to their happy state of being. Indications when your pet is anxious may be obvious. The most common are excessive chewing, panting, or licking, destructive behavior, barking, whining, restlessness, pacing, aggression, appetite loss, and trembling.
Some of the most common triggers of anxiety are:
● Separation anxiety
● Past trauma – accident, dog fight, starvation, illness
● Moved to/from many homes
● The loss of a companion
● Loud noises
● Car rides
● Going to the vet or groomer
Whatever trigger causes your pet to become less than her usual happy go lucky self, there are a few natural supplements and methods to calm your furry friend that will be safer and just as effective as any chemical or prescription medication.
Use the process of distraction by giving your pet a treat or toy, performing tricks, or simply move her away from the situation. Calming music and weighted blankets can also help. If your pet has separation anxiety, do the activities you normally do before you leave but do not actually leave. Then, slowly introduce departing in short periods, increasing the time gone as your pet reacts positively to the change.
This involves training your pet to associate her triggers with something good. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, provide treats and pet her when the noise occurs. She will start to associate loud noises with a good feeling. We had a lab that was terrified of fireworks. Every time a firework went off, we would give him his favorite stuffed animal, a couple of treats, and tell him “good job” when he did not cower and shake in fear.
If given by mouth, it takes about 5 to 20 minutes to see results. When given over time, the benefits will become more apparent. CBD can also help regulate mood, social behavior, digestion, sleep, appetite, seizures, pain, and allergies. Who knew so many benefits could come from a single plant!
Herbs – Use as a tea and add to food/water, as a tincture, or a capsule.
Chamomile – Especially useful if your pet gets nervous or sick in the car
Valerian - For stressful events like visits to the vet or if your pet gets overly hyper
St John’s Wort – For pets with fear-based (thunderstorms/fireworks) or separation anxiety
Homeopathic Remedies - typically in the form of a small pillule that can be put directly in the mouth or added to food.
Pinpointing what is causing the fear can sometimes be tricky but if the correct remedy is found, it can have fast relief and lasting benefits. The most common are Aconite, Phosphorus, Pulsatilla nigricans, Borax, or Gelsemium in a 30C strength.
Bach Flower Essences
A range of 38 flower essences for your pet’s specific anxiety. The most familiar, Rescue Remedy, is a combination of the five most common flower essences. Stop into Happy Hounds where we can sample out different varieties on treat samples based on your pet’s concerns.
Hydrosols – Use as a mist on your dog.
Essential oils can sometimes be too strong for many dogs (and all cats). As a result, Hydrosols are a better option. Left over from the essential oil-making process and therefore far less concentrated, look for hydrosols with neroli, chamomile and lavender. We do not recommend any form of essential oils on cats due to their strong negative reactions.
If your pet has any form of anxiety, it can impact her quality of life (and your own). These natural solutions may help her get some relief so you can get back to enjoying the zoomies.