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What Can I Give my Dog for Anxiety?

Picture of a black lab puppy by the fence

Even though some of us might think that anxiety in dogs is not a common situation for pet parents to have to manage, the truth is that it does occur pretty often. Anxiety is manifested through behaviors such as barking, obsessive-compulsive chewing, destructive tendencies, or even going potty indoors. Sometimes, the dog could actually show visible signs that he or she is feeling anxious such as hiding in places that are supposed to be safe. 

There are many medications that you can give to your pooch to deal with this issue, and we’ll tackle them in this article. However, we would like to note that giving medication to your dog without the supervision of a veterinarian is most definitely not the right way of going about things — you can do more harm than good. 

In this article, we’ll also discuss some holistic approaches and give you some tips on how to handle anxiety in dogs without resorting to traditional medication. 

Medications to Help Control Anxiety in Dogs

1Alprazolam

Alprazolam is typically prescribed to help dogs that become anxious because of events that happen over a short period of time, such as thunderstorms. The medication works by depressing activity in several parts of the central nervous system. It is effective when it is administered at the earliest sign that a dog is beginning to become anxious. It is available in the form of liquid or tablets, and it is given orally. 

2Buspirone

If your dog is anxious when interacting with other dogs (therefore, in social situations), your vet could prescribe Buspirone. This drug is dispensed in the form of tablets, and it is given orally. It is a mild anti-anxiety medication as it merely activates serotonin receptors located in the brain.

3Clomipramine

Dogs can suffer from separation anxiety, and here is where this FDA-approved medication comes in handy. It has a similar mechanism to that of Alprazolam, and it can be utilized for several other types of anxiety. 

4Dexmedetomidine

Currently available on the market as Sileo, dexmedetomidine helps dogs deal with noise aversion (especially pets that get scared or anxious in response to fireworks or thunderstorms). It effectively depresses the activity in some parts of the brain which results in lowered anxiety levels. 

5Fluoxetine

This is a type of drug that’s most commonly used for the treatment of separation anxiety in our fluffy buddies. It can be administered in cases of other types of anxiety, as well. It actively increases the amount of serotonin in the brain, so it acts like a mild relaxant. It is currently available in the form of capsules, tablets, as well as liquid. 

6Lorazepam

If you know that you are going on a trip with your canine companion and you want to make sure that anxiety is not something that he or she has to go through, you can talk to your vet and get a prescription for Lorazepam. This medication is administered to pets before an event that’s known to cause anxiety takes place. It is available in the form of liquid or tablets, but there’s also an injectable form available. 

7Paroxetine

Similarly to other medications that we have described here, Paroxetine works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. It is available in the form of liquid or tablets.

8Denosyl

Denosyl is a nutritional supplement that helps dogs with becoming less anxious. It contains one active ingredient that was shown to be useful in the treatment of anxiety – s-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe). Other products such as Anxitane and Composure contain L-theanine, which is also said to provide great results in cases of mild or moderate anxiety. The best thing about these natural supplements is that they have little to no side effects

Alternatives

Most of the medications that we have described until now have to be prescribed by a vet. If you take the time to perform some online research on the topic, you’ll see that many pet parents prefer choosing homeopathic treatments instead of actual pharmaceutical drugs, especially when they have to give them to their dogs for a long period of time. 

Most medications have side effects, and since they are all metabolized in the liver and they are ejected through the kidneys, liver failure and kidney failure are two issues that can be caused by any drug, especially when it is administered in the long run. By comparison, natural medications have little to no side effects, and as you probably know, humans have been relying on plants for thousands of years in treating all sorts of diseases. 

One alternative that needs to be taken into account is CBD. A dog’s central nervous system is filled with cannabinoid receptors, and CBD can basically trigger an increase in the level of serotonin (which is a natural mood stabilizer). Nowadays, you can even find CBD treats, not just the typical CBD oil, and dogs love them a lot more. Plus, CBD works fast, and that’s definitely something you want, particularly when trying to calm down a dog that gets anxious because of thunderstorms. 

Essential oils are another option, although they have a very mild to moderate effect. They can, therefore, work only for dogs that suffer from mild anxiety. Lavender and violet leaf oils are capable of inducing a sense of relaxation and calm. 

What about herbs? If you didn’t know, chamomile can have amazing relaxing and therapeutic effects on your canine friend. It is a potent sedative and it also soothes your dog’s tummy. There are herbal tinctures available at local health stores, and you can just add some drops into your dog’s water bowl when you’re expecting a stressful event. 

Home remedies

Exercise and background noise are two things that can help you manage your dog’s anxiety, as well. Any doctor can tell you that exercise is essential when it comes to getting rid of excess and nervous energy. Take your dog on a long walk before leaving for work or before anything that could trigger an anxiety episode might happen. 

Some dogs feel calmer when they hear background noise (such as the radio or the TV). If your dog absolutely hates being left alone in the house, you might want to consider leaving the radio on. 

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