11 Products That Could Help Your Dog’s Anxiety
Is your dog anxious? Invest in the best calming aid for dogs, from beds to treats to calming scents and accessories.
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Don’t let the wagging tail and frenetic excitement fool you—dogs experience anxiety just like humans do. In fact, according to one study in the journal Scientific Reports, more than 70% of dogs express anxious behavior resulting from noise, a fear of strangers or distress at being away from you.
Symptoms vary widely and can include aggressiveness, excessive panting, barking, pacing or a general sense of restlessness. Some dogs will even make messes in the house despite being potty-trained. “Dogs have emotions and can get anxious or worried in certain situations, just like humans,” says Brad Phifer, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA, executive director of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
The signs of anxiety in dogs
To help calm an anxious dog, you must understand why they may be uncomfortable and address the situation. One of the most common reasons for anxious behavior? Being confined to a small space or separated from loved ones, says Phifer. “Dogs are social creatures who often enjoy human and canine companionship,” he says. “When left alone for long periods, they may display destructive behavior like barking or chewing on furniture.”
Additionally, dogs can develop fears based on past experiences or a lack of exposure to new situations. Age-related issues and medical conditions can also come into play. “If you notice unusual behaviors like excessive drooling, barking or biting, a visit to the veterinarian can help rule out any underlying health issues,” Phifer says.
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If your dog’s stress response is normal but sometimes outsized, you both may find relief at the store. We rounded up a dozen of the best calming aids for dogs for your pup to try. Find the right one and you won’t know how you ever lived without it!
Does your pup get anxious during storms and at the sound of nearby fireworks? Look to the aptly named ThunderShirt. It’s basically a stiff vest that applies gentle pressure around your dog’s midsection, as if you were giving Spot a great big hug. “Dogs feel calm when they sit close together, and these may help mimic that feeling in some breeds,” explains veterinarian Dr. Jan Pol, DVM, star of Nat Geo WILD’s The Incredible Dr. Pol.
The ThunderShirt’s soft, breathable fabric is machine-washable, and it comes in sizes from xx-small to xx-large. According to the manufacturer, surveys of more than 2,000 dog owners found that 80% saw an improvement in their dogs’ anxiety symptoms, as did our pet editor, who tried it on her anxious pup and thinks it is literally the best calming aid for dogs.
Zesty Paw Calming Chews
Whether your dog gets anxious during fireworks or on a more regular basis (like when your pup is placed in their dog crate), “pup-lements”—infused with ingredients known to quell stress responses—may help.
Zesty Pals Calming Chews contain suntheanine, a form of the amino acid L-theanine, which research has shown to help with human relaxation and mental alertness without drowsiness. Other active ingredients include organic ginger root, L-tryptophan, valerian root and passion flower, all of which are believed to have calming effects. For additional options, check out these other calming treats for dogs.
Furhaven Calming Cuddler
Sometimes the best calming aid for a dog’s anxiety is to create an environment where they feel safe and secure, as it makes them less likely to react negatively to stimuli.
Like some of the best dog beds, this Furhaven bed has a raised rim that creates a barrier between the dog and the outside world, giving your pup a greater sense of security, so they can relax and snuggle in. Plus, it’s made with the same plush fleecy fabric used in soft baby blankets. Only the best for your fur baby!
ThunderEase Calming Diffuser Kit
Another product designed to keep your pup from freaking out during a thunderstorm, this pheromone-based diffuser mimics the pheromones that dogs release naturally, calming some pups instantly and putting the kibosh on barking. Just plug it into a wall outlet in a room where your dog hangs out the most and refill it every month or so.
One reviewer writes that while her dog’s barking didn’t stop entirely, it decreased considerably; the ThunderEase also lessened her pup’s anxiety when visitors came into the house.
Sentry Good Behavior Calming Collar
Relying on the same pheromone technology as the diffuser, this calming collar releases the substance to help dogs feel safer and more secure—and potentially modify behaviors such as excessive barking, chewing or jumping. Worn around the neck, this product exposes the dog to the pheromones consistently, along with a soothing lavender-chamomile scent.
One reviewer said it was an essential item for long car rides with your dog and travel in general, as that’s when dogs are most exposed to unfamiliar environments. Another bonus: Some studies have also backed up the use of pheromone-based products when it comes to dog anxiety and other behavioral issues.
SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy
Imagine giving your best friend a warm stuffed animal with a battery-powered heartbeat to snuggle with. Pets that react well to physical comforts will love this plush pup that combats dog anxiety. Similar to the viral purring cat toy, it will make your sweetie think he’s snuggling up to another dog—a warm, sweet and calming friend. “Dogs are herd animals,” Dr. Pol says. “They want to be with others because they think there’s safety in numbers.”
Warren London Calming Lavender Shampoo
There’s nothing like a warm, relaxing bath and a good massage to calm you down—and dogs apparently feel the same way! If your dog suddenly becomes anxious, some tub time might turn things around. Use this Warren London shampoo made with calming lavender, aloe vera and coconut oil. The gentle scent, the lack of harsh chemicals and, of course, the gentle massaging is a recipe for calm. This vitamin-rich formula also relieves itchiness without interfering with flea preventatives or other products.
Calmz Anxiety Relief System
For some dogs, vests provide enough of a “hug” as a calming aid. But if yours needs more, the battery-powered Calmz Anxiety Relief System emits low-frequency tones and mild vibrations that work especially well with dogs who act up during thunderstorms and other noisy events. The vibrations reportedly send a signal to the dog’s brain, prompting it to stop producing adrenaline and subsequently inducing calm. It comes in sizes x-small to x-large with three AA batteries included.
Adaptil Calming Spray
If sending those aforementioned pheromone substances into the air via a diffuser doesn’t appeal and your dog doesn’t need the 24/7 effects of a collar, this Adaptil spray is a winner. Just spritz it on any surface, such as a dog bed, toys, blankets or even the car seat or dog hammock when you go for a ride.
The best part of this dog-anxiety solution is that you can take it anywhere, so if you’ve been avoiding even quick trips with your furry friend, having this synthetic-pheromone spray handy may be a great short-term solution.
LickiMat Soother and Slow Feeder
If your dog mainly freaks out when you leave the house, this clever mat might do the trick. The idea: Put a bit of yogurt, peanut butter or some other treat on the mat right before you leave (or whenever the dog is acting up). Because food tends to fall into the tiny cracks of the LickiMat, it takes dogs about 15 to 30 minutes to eat most treats, and the remaining scent and crumbs keep your pup licking the mat long after the treat is gone. Not only does it keep your dog busy, but there’s not a lot of time left over to remember what was causing anxiety in the first place. You might also want to try the best puzzle toys for bored dogs.
Vetoquinol Zylkene Calming Supplements
These non-drowsy supplements are made with alpha-casozepine, a lactose-free milk protein that has a calming effect on a dog’s nervous system. Use it as needed or regularly, depending on whether your pet seems anxious most of the time or only when triggered by thunderstorms, landscapers and other stimulation. Dosing depends on your pet’s weight.
Because this is something your pet will ingest, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before giving your pup Zylkene.
About the Experts
- Brad Phifer, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KSA, is the executive director of the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
- Dr. Jan Pol, DVM is a veterinarian and star of Nat Geo WILD’s The Incredible Dr. Pol.
- Scientific Reports: Prevalence, comorbidity, and breed differences in canine anxiety in 13,700 Finnish pet dogs
- National Library of Medicine: Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- Fetch by WebMD: Pet Behavior Problems: Can Pheromones Help?
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