9 Natural Remedies to Calm an Anxious Dog
Updated: Jan 17
Wilson came into our lives over three years ago. How time flies! When we first met him at the local animal rescue center, he was nervous and tried to slink away from us. The owner of the center gently scooped him up and let us sit with him in his kennel. Of course, we fell instantly in love with this little fellow and were very surprised when we were told we could take him home that day.
While we knew we were adopting a rescue dog, we didn't take into account that he may be a highly anxious dog. But, as the days went by and he wouldn’t eat, we got worried. We got even more worried when he did start eating but then would vomit three or four times every couple of days. And, this is when the never-ending vet visits began!
After a number of tests and numerous ultrasounds, our vet diagnosed Wilson with a lazy bowel and anxiety. Medicines and weekly acupuncture treatments were used to help control his symptoms.
While Wilson improved, in many ways, we could tell the medicines were starting to have a negative effect on him. We also noticed the anxiety wasn’t getting better. So, we started exploring natural remedies to help calm him down.
Read on to discover what natural remedies we used plus a few other options you could try when calming down your anxious dog.
1. Consult Your Vet
The first step to any treatment, alternative or not, is to get your dog checked out by your vet. This is essential to rule out any physical conditions that may require intervention beyond using natural remedies. After a full physical examination, your vet will be able to diagnose your dog properly and decide if x-rays and blood tests are necessary.
Most vets are open to using natural remedies for helping dogs suffering from anxiety. It was our vet who taught us how to use acupuncture points to move along Wilson’s lazy bowel and to calm his anxiety.
2. Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture has been used for years and is part of the ancient Chinese healing practice. It’s also part of the Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) focusing on balancing the energy flow also known as Qi in the animal’s body.
By inserting sharp, hair-thin needles into certain acupuncture points along the body, the vet or acupuncturist is able to trigger a healing response.
Our vet showed us how to use acupressure which is the method of applying gentle pressure, with your fingers, on acupuncture points. This works well for dogs that don’t like to have needles inserted into them. The practice helps to also improve the energy flow and restore the dog’s natural energy levels.
Acupuncture and acupressure helps to increase the oxygenation of tissues while also reducing the buildup of waste matter. The muscles become more relaxed, relieving any pain in the body. This form of treatment works well in dogs suffering from:
Arthritis and other inflamed joint conditions
Chronic back pain
Sore lesions caused by constant licking
Anxiety and stress
While acupuncture and acupressure can’t heal serious diseases such as cancer, they can be used as a supplement to conventional treatment plans.
2. Animal Energy Healing
Hiring a distant animal energy healer was the next step we took to help Wilson cope with his anxiety. Because we were in strict lockdown at the time of dealing with Wilson’s anxious condition, we had to consider using remote energy healing. We called on a fellow shaman to help us. This lady is a qualified TTouch practitioner so we felt confident she knew what she was doing.
We booked a session for one evening and let our animal healer do her work remotely. It took her a few sessions to break through Wilson’s barrier but once she did she was able to help restore his energy levels once more. After a few weeks, we could feel a “lightness” around Wilson as if a huge burden had been released.
Energy healing works well for both humans and animals with the owners often also receiving treatment to aid the dog in recovering from high levels of anxiety. This form of healing works for dogs suffering from phobias, separation anxiety, travel sickness, and more. It’s also ideal if you want to prevent invasive forms of treatment which may further traumatize your dog.
3. Tissue Salts
My partner and I use tissue salts whenever we feel a bit anxious or stressed. After some investigation, I discovered they could also be safely used for dogs. We gave Wilson Tissue Salts No. 6 as well as Rescue Remedy whenever we noticed he was more anxious than normal.
This homeopathic medicine is also perfect for those fireworks evenings which set most dogs off into fits of wailing and barking. Tissue salts can be used to treat a wide range of ailments from physical to mental to emotional conditions.
Always consult with your vet if your dog is taking conventional medicines before using any homeopathic options.
4. Aromatherapy Oils
Aromatherapy oils are a wonderful way to calm down both human and dog anxiety conditions. However, make sure you handle them with respect and use the right oils. Aromatherapy oils must never be given to a dog orally as they’re toxic. They also shouldn’t be applied directly onto the dog’s body.
The best way to use aromatherapy oils is to get a diffuser. Your dog will benefit from the scents of plants such as lavender, frankincense, patchouli, and orange.
This beautiful Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser & Essential Oils Set will calm both you and your dog.
Swaddling is the method of wrapping your dog in a cloth or blanket gently but with enough pressure to reassure them. Some dogs get a lot of reassurance from wearing an anti-anxiety jacket while others may find it more stressful. Gauge your dog’s response and if they don’t like being swaddled then avoid it.
Wilson didn’t like being wrapped up when feeling anxious, preferring to be free to walk around. We left him to get on with it, but we also put his favorite pillow down on the floor next to our bed which he would eventually settle down on.
6. CBD Oils for Dogs
CBD oils work well for dogs with anxiety and stress. When purchasing CBD oils for your dog make sure it has minimal Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content. This is the compound that causes the hallucination effects associated with the marijuana plant. Always check the label to check if it has no or minimal THC content and ensure the product is also 100% organic.
Always source your CBD oils from a company that follows the manufacturing standards and regulations of the local governing authority board. This way you can rest assured you’re giving your dog the best product on the market.
I’ve talked about using crystals to help manage your dog’s emotional well-being. Certain crystals will ease your dog’s anxiety levels and these include the following:
Blue Lace Agate for soothing energies
Rose Quartz for balanced emotions
Clear Quartz for calmness and self-confidence
Crystals can be placed onto your dog’s collar, in their sleeping crate or bed, or sewn into their jacket. Make sure your dog can’t get the crystal as some can be very toxic if ingested. They can also be a choking hazard or cause obstructions in the stomach.
8. Exercise and Games
Dogs love to be exercised so taking your dog for regular walks can help to minimize his anxiety levels. Make sure you walk him in a safe area such as the local dog park. If your dog has not been socialized then avoid meeting up with other dogs. This could only make your dog more stressed and anxious.
Wilson becomes a monster the minute he sees another dog! So, we’ve found a quiet park nearby which is hardly used by other dog walkers which means we can both relax and enjoy time outdoors.
Playing games with your dog is another way to calm down his anxiety. This could include throwing a ball or frisbee, playing tug-of-war, or chasing each other around the garden! Exercising and playing games with your dog ensures you give him the kind of attention he needs to feel loved and cared for.
9. Manage Your Own Anxiety
Our dogs are very sensitive beings and will easily pick up on their two-legged owner’s feelings. If you’re prone to anger, sadness, or anxiety yourself, your dog will pick up on these emotions. By learning to take responsibility for your own emotions, you’re helping your dog to relax.
While it’s not always easy to keep your own feelings of anxiety at bay, keeping it under check helps your dog feel less anxious. By stroking and hugging your dog, you can minimize your own anxiety while making your dog feel loved as well.
Grooming your dog is a good way to take your mind off stressful thoughts and your dog will also benefit from decreased anxiety levels.
Not all dogs suffer from anxiety. However, when they do you want to do everything you can to make them feel calmer and happier. Our journey with our rescue dog taught us that there was a place for both conventional treatments and natural remedies. By using both methods in conjunction with each other, we’ve been able to help Wilson manage his anxiety levels better.
And, as a result, his lazy bowel has improved too. Being anxious ourselves did no favors for Wilson and we also had to be very patient with him. But, his happiness is proof that getting the right support from our vet and using natural remedies has helped Wilson to be a calmer and happier dog.
This post was originally published on July 20th, 2021, and updated on December 9th, 2022.
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