For the best Canine happiness, a silver lining emerged during the coronavirus pandemic: collectively, dogs likely experienced less anxiety as more people worked from home. Prior to the pandemic, 85% of dogs left alone at home suffer from at least one symptom of separation anxiety.
The typical manifestations of separation anxiety in pets includes:
- Pacing incessantly
- Defecating or urinating
- Excessive salivating
- Scratching furniture
- Gnawing at fur
Obviously, we’ll all be delighted when the pandemic is officially declared over. But for those of us who will have to once again commute to offices, this doesn’t bode well for our pets. So what to do?
And here’s another point to consider: just because your dog has gotten used to you being gone all day doesn’t mean your pet is 100% free of separation anxiety. There are varying degrees of anxiety.
Many veterinarians prescribe anti-anxiety medication for stressed-out pets. But medication for pets can cause side effects, just as they can in humans.
And like people, dogs are social creatures; they are pack animals. And if left alone all day, it’s not like your dog can connect with other canine pals via Zoom. Hiring a dog walker may help but it may not be enough if your dog has a high degree of separation anxiety.
Plenty of Anxiety Triggers For Pets Even When They’re Not Alone
Separation is the most common source of anxiety in pets. However, it’s not the only trigger. Several things can trigger pet anxiety—even when you’re close by:
- Road trips/travel
- Dog parks, socialization with other pets
- Home visits by unfamiliar guests (mail carriers)
- Visits to the vet
Natural Remedies For Canine Anxiety
In light of all these triggers, what can be done to calm canine stressors?
Just as humans possess, dogs have an olfactory and limbic system. The inhalation or dermatological application of essential oils is proven to activate the olfactory and limbic system, which promotes a near-instantaneous stress-relieving effect. Running an essential oil diffuser in the home, especially in rooms in which your pet likes to chill out and/or applying diluted essential oils (diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut, almond or olive oil) to your dog’s paws and behind the ears may help calm your pet’s nervous system.
Some of the best essential oils for anxiety relief include lavender, chamomile, geranium, frankincense, sweet almond, lemon and cypress.
Adaptogenic herbs are another natural remedy that supports canine behavior. In addition, according to veterinarian Christine King, older dogs can also greatly benefit from adaptogenic herbs. Writing in Animal Wellness Magazine, King says adaptogens help senior dogs with improved immune function; muscle mass, strength, coordination, comfort and confidence; alertness, memory, and mood as well as sleep quality.
“In my experience, these herbs add considerably to the quality of life in senior dogs, even helping to clear the mental fog that often causes confusion, anxiety and forgetfulness,” King writes, astutely adding that “a combination of adaptogens works best, as it provides a broader range of benefits.”
King concludes, “Adaptogenic herbs are a great addition to a dog’s healthcare program.” But in using adaptogens for canines, the same logic applies as in humans. King cautions, “They [adaptogens] should always be used alongside proper medical care, a good diet, daily exercise, and all the other things that go into keeping a dog healthy and happy.”
This is How Often You Should Give Your Dogs Adaptogenic Herbs
As for how often to give your dog adaptogens, King recommends adding a dose of the formula once a day to food. However, if there’s a particularly stressful situation or illness, King likes to be “extra generous with the dosage … giving it twice a day.”
How Do Adaptogens Work For Pets?
If you’re wondering how exactly adaptogens work for pets, the answer is: the same way they work on humans. Adaptogens help the body self-regulate. These cream-of-the-crop medicinal herbs help dysfunctional organs and systems return to a state of balance. And in doing so, bodily functions normalize, and health may return to the body.
Hundreds of research studies show that adaptogens resist fatigue, and thereby increase endurance and stamina. They also can improve mental faculties and support recovery after intense exercise.
Moreover, adaptogens have demonstrated the ability to normalize mood and judgement.
Even though certain adaptogenic herbs can improve energy, they do so at the cellular level. This means that unlike caffeine which causes hyperactivity, the energetic effects of adaptogens occur precisely because bodily functions are normalized.
This means that if you’re experiencing occasional anxiousness, adaptogens can help you (and dogs) feel more calm even though they enhance cellular function to support overall energy.
And in doing so, adaptogens can help calm anxious or aggressive dogs. Adaptogenic herbs, adds veterinarian King, may help ease dogs that are prone to depression. King suggests that adaptogens man help prolong the career of working dogs (K9, fire fighting, bomb-detecting, etc.); lead to a faster recovery time from injury and illness, and finally, adaptogens may help dogs greatly enjoy doing what they do best: playing.
Note: If you have a pet and you enjoy reading scientific journals, check out this research article published in Veterinary Herbal Medicine. It describes how adaptogens and other herbs can help mitigate symptoms associated with many disorders. The veterinary researchers don’t recommend that conventional therapy be replaced by herbal medicines, but do acknowledge that herbal medicine can be a safe and efficacious complementary treatment.