Does Your Dog Suffer From Anxiety? Pet Anxiety is the #1 Behavorial Problem in Dogs | Blooming Culture
Anxiety is a common problem pets face and canine anxiety is the #1 behavioral problem in dogs. If not handled properly, it can continue to be a burden for both of you. Instead of accepting that your pet is this way, we spoke to Dr. Gabby Pagana, DVM, CVA, an integrative veterinarian based in Los Angeles to find out how looking at the whole pet and using a multimodal approach can make a bigger difference, than a one-sided approach. It requires you to take a deeper look at your pet's lifestyle, diet, mental health, and dig into the root of the problem.
- Observe your pet's daily lifestyle.
- What does their number of walks per day, feeding schedule, potty breaks, sleeping habits, etc look like?
- Observe your own daily lifestyle.
- Do you have a consistent schedule and habits that affect your pet?
- Are you battling any mental health issues yourself?
- Observe when your pet has anxious behaviors.
- What triggered that anxious behavior?
These observations and questions will help you understand the type of anxiety your pet is experiencing and how it can be managed in a way that will work best for both you and your pet.
"In Eastern Medicine, the persons’ spirit is termed “Shen”. The Shen is housed in the heart and directly affects the mind as well. When there are imbalances, the Shen can be disturbed presenting as anxiety, or other mental health disorders."
All dogs are different and may take a variety of approaches listed below until optimal mental health is achieved. Some pets make take weeks until the desired effects are noticed, as many herbals are adaptogenic meaning that they take time to adapt the body to its optimal function. Most importantly, don't give up!
Training and Behavior Modification
Learning how not to avoid using positive reinforcement, and calming signals. Anxious dogs can benefit tremendously by building their confidence and promoting positive experiences in new situations.
Is training or behavior modification best for your dog?
"Behavior modification is a different beast. By its very name and nature, we are starting with behavior that needs to be modified in some way. Since we are starting with something that the dog is already choosing to do, the dog already has an opinion about it. This inherently makes it different from training which usually starts off as neutral and becomes positive.
A very common behavior that requires modification is aggression. If the dog is aggressing at something, they very clearly have an opinion about it. This is no longer a matter of just teaching the dog to do something because there is a very strong emotional component. Behavior modification almost always begins by attempting to modify the emotional state of the dog." Dr. Laura Sharkey, KPA CTP, SDC
- Comfort at home (beds, the layout of home)
- Keep things familiar, avoid changing things around too much and keep consistency/routine
- Leave a worn item of your clothing with your pet when you leave
- Yoga and Meditation with your pet
- Sound Healing Music
- PEMF Assisi Loop
- Compression and weight make them feel secure.
Supplements & Herbs
- Canine Matrix Zen by Mushroom Matrix
- Full or broad-spectrum cannabis extract
- CBD Turkey Treats, pet CBD Oil or pet CBD Sunbutter by Blooming Culture
- Calming Care by Purina
- L-theanine, found in Green Tea
- Sollequin by NutraMax
- Nutricalm by Rx Vitamins
- Also contains L-tryptophan & Valerian Root for calming effects
- Casein extract
- Zylkene ® by Vetoquinol
- Shen Calmer herbal formula by Jing Tang herbals
- *must get from a holistic vet
- Honey (medicinal)
- Other specific herbs with calming effects include Passionflower, Skull Sap, Valerian, Lavender, Rosemary, Oat Straw, Kava Kava, and German Chamomile.
- Foods that calm Shen include lettuce, pork heart, longan, dates, pecans, rosemary, and eggshell.
- Any whole food cooked diet balanced and prepared for your pet's constitution.
- Dog Appeasing Pheromones
- Adaptil plug-in, sprays, collars
- Essential Oils – lavender, chamomile, neroli, copaiba, and sandalwood.
Exercise the Body and the Mind
Medications from your Veterinarian
There are 2 FDA approved prescription medications for canine separation anxiety; Clomicalm & Reconcile.
Trazodone, Alprazolam, Sileo (short-acting, immediate good for fireworks/thunderstorms), Fluoxetine (reconcile) (takes a long time), Amitriptyline, and Clomicalm
* for firework or thunderstorm phobias I recommend choosing some of the above supplements long-term to balance their hormones and chemicals in the body, but I recommend for “day-of” medications a product like Sileo, which needs to be prescribed by your veterinarian.
**for anxiety that may cause aggression, especially in the most severe cases, Dr. Gabby recommends fluoxetine (SSRI). Please discuss the potential benefit of this medication with your veterinarian or a veterinary behavioral specialist before starting any drugs. She reaches for this as a last resort if all else fails, but of course, aggressive patients where human safety is at risk, she would choose it. This drug is still not a fix-all, none of them are. A combination of these, with emphasis on training and the human-animal bond, works best. If you do all of these, and no training is provided, it is likely the pet will still continue unwanted behaviors.
Below is an example of our favorite puzzle feeder, The Original Mine Platter. Video courtesy of PBJ_Pack.