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Therapeutic aids for dog anxiety and aggression
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There are therapeutic aids that may help reduce stress, anxiety and improve aggression in dogs from things we can alter in their environment to supplements and medications.
Some of these aids work short term bandaid on a temporary basis, others may work longer term to positively affect mental health overall. Most short terms aids do not improve behavior problems over all, but still have their place. They may reduce stress or acute anxiety, for example. A calmer dog is a less stressed dog, and a less stressed dog is less likely to become aggressive. There is also a direct relationship between chronic stress and aggressive behavior.
Some therapeutic supplements can be particularly beneficial for behavior modification work since the main goal to aim for is a calm and relaxed dog. Others therapeutic aids may work to just generally lower stress over all.
Some may make more lasting changes in the brain such as those effects neurotransmitters like serotonin or GABA. It’s a mistake to assume because something is natural that it will not have a drug like effect. Supplements should be given to your dog only in consultation with your vet.
Please note: some of the product links we provide will take you to Amazon. If you should decide to buy anything, K9aggression.com will earn a small commission from the products listed here at no expense to you. This helps us keep our site up and maintained so we can continue to help people help their dogs! We never recommend anything that we don’t believe will be of value to you.
Vests and blankets
Generally any jacket, vest or weighted blanket is considered safe for your dog because if they don’t like it they will let you know! However if you have any issues putting on or taking clothing, boots, etc. in general off your dog, you should work to desentize them to wearing any of these items first.
As with all things and dogs it’s always best to not change too much of anything at once, and go cautiously about your approach. Try the vets or blanket for short periods of time with the intention of figuring out whether they can tolerate it before moving on to see if there is a positive effect.
Research has suggested that deep pressure vests can have positive effects on dogs from reducing stress to helping dogs recover from stress.
Learn about how deep pressure vests may help recovery from stress in dogs in this study, The effect of a pressure vest on the behaviour, salivary cortisol and urine oxytocin of noise phobic dogs in a controlled test
Learn about the effectiveness and safety of using vests in thunderstorm phobic dogs in this study, The effectiveness of the Anxiety Wrap in the treatment of canine thunderstorm phobia: An open-label trial
What it is used for: Stress recovery, thunderstorm phobia
Anti-Anxiety Blanket Wrap (Large and small dogs)
As above, there is some evidence that suggest pressure can help calm dogs and helps them recover from stress faster. The blanket might be ideal for dogs that do not enjoy handling. However, getting dogs is not always easy or necessarily safe for some dogs. The blanket may be a much easier although more expensive option.
What it is used for: Stress recovery, thunderstorm phobia, dogs that do not enjoy handling that may benefit from pressure.
Calming music & Sound
White noise contains many frequencies with equal intensities and is often used for masking other sounds.
While there is very little research on the use of white noise with dogs, studies with elderly people shows that white noise also helped decrease state anxiety.(8) It has also been sown to help reduce the anxiety of patients admitted to Cardiac care units,(9) as well as reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain in patients.(10)
It may useful for those dogs who suffer from separation anxiety we well as those dogs who get easily stimulated by sound, whether from kids, guests, noisy neighbours or outdoor sounds.
There are a variety of different white noise machines on Amazon with a large number of great reviews at a variety of price points.
Classical music may have some calming influences on dogs. (6) Heavy metal music should be avoided as it appears to increase anxiety (7)
Through A Dog’s Ear: Vol 1, Music To Calm Your Canine Companion.
Through a Dog’s Ear co-founders, Joshua Leeds & Lisa Spector, discuss why music is therapeutic. From the piano, they demonstrate what makes Through a Dog’s Ear different than non-adjusted music. [VIDEO]
Watch the video to learn more about music for dogs
What it is used for: Helping soothe dogs.
The Divinity of Dogs- Music to Calm Dogs and the People Who Love Them
Learn more about how this music is used in human societies to helps sooth dogs in this video in this AIB interview.
What it is used for: Helping to sooth dogs
Remember, each dog is an individual and will respond uniquely. Always talk to a vet to determine whether your dog could benefit from any supplements or natural remedies.
In an ideal world it would be best to try out single ingredient supplements. This helps you know what specifically works or doesn’t work for your dog. However, many supplements for dogs are a combination of compounds. Keep in mind that this may actually be more beneficial, but also note that the mix might contain the most of the cheapest ingredient.
Also note, that some of these supplements can have powerful effects. Just because they may be considered natural does not mean they might not have drug-like effect.
Not all dogs will respond in the same way.If you considered supplements for your dog, keep good records of amounts given, times of day, food, and behavioral observations. Some supplements may take days to have an effect (this is because some neurotransmitters are are slow to change – and this is a good thing). Others are more fast acting and may have more temporary effects.
Theanine is a naturally occurring amino-acid primarily found in tea leaves and in some mushrooms.
Theanine is known for its relaxing and calming effects on the brain and has been studied for its potential therapeutic uses. Best use is for acute short term anxiety. Could be very beneficial for behavior modification.
Theanine works by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, by enhancing GABA, which then increases dopamine and serotonin (1, 2, 3 ). These neurotransmitters work to help regulate mood, sleep, and cognitive function. Theanine has been found to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, enhance cognitive performance and focus, and boost immunity.
Learn more about L-theanine for anti-anxiety effects in dogs.
Anxitane M & L (L-Theanine) Chewable Tablets
This supplement contains L-theanine which has been used in several studies. Potentially it may be useful for in combination with desensitization practices with dogs that show fear aggression toward unfamiliar people. Read more about ANXITANE® tablets shows benefit in helping to reduce fear of human beings in a laboratory model of anxiety-related behavior. (4)
Effective Ingredients: L-theanine
What it is used for: Behavior Modification, Acute anxiety, reducing fear toward unfamiliar people, storm sensitivity
Hemp Oil and other hemp products
Charlie & Buddy Hеmp Оil
Charlie & Buddy Hеmp Оil (#ad)
Hemp oil is an oil that is derived from the hemp plant, also known as Cannabis sativa. Hemp oil is rich in essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6, which are important for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. It is also a good source of plant-based protein and is high in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant.
Hemp oil contains several compounds that have been shown to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. Learn more about hemp oil here.
It’s important to note that individual responses to hemp oil and its components can vary, and more research is needed to fully understand the anxiolytic effects of these compounds. It’s always important to speak with a healthcare provider before using any supplements to manage anxiety or other health conditions.
Calming Treats for Dogs
Hemp Calming Treats for Dogs (#ad)
Ingredients: Passion flower, chamomile, valerian root, and organic ginger root.
This hemp product also includes chamomile, valerian root which are both known to having anti-anxiety effects but there is limited research on it’s effect on dogs.
Keep in mind that most products that include mixes generally have more of the cheaper compound in the mix. You also won’t know for sure specifically which compounds have the effect.
Premium Care Hemp Dog Chews (might only be found on amazon.com)
Note that Premium Care Hemp Dog Chews also include valerian root, l-tryptophan (see below), chamomile as well as hemp oil and organic hemp.
As with all combined ingredient products, you may be getting more of the cheaper ingredient in the mix.
The use of L-tryptophan and 5-HTP as dietary supplements should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as they can have serious side effects and interact with other medications.
L-tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin, and import neurotransmitter in the brain implicated in anxious and aggressive dogs. Diets supplemented with L-tryptophan may not change anxiety related behavior in dogs that don’t show clear signs of abnormal behavior.(5) While there are l_tryptophan supplements for dogs, some include other compounds which makes it difficult to tell what is having the effect.
L-Trypotophan gets converted into 5-HTP and 5-HTP crosses into the brain more easily than L-tryptophan. Before using, read up on side effects and warnings of L-tryptophan and 5-HTP use.
You can find both L-tryptophan and 5-HTP supplements on Amazon. Many of these used for pets are combined with other relaxing compounds such as Liquid NutriCalm Dogs & Cats (#ad)
5HTP PLUS (ONLY IS USA)
Learn more about L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP.
In some cases, dogs are unable to calm down enough to make much progress with behavior modification. These are dogs with a different or unbalanced brain chemistry. In some cases dogs are predisposed to a unbalanced brain chemistry, and in other cases chronic stress may have altered physiology enough that only medication will assist in bringing things back to a healthy homeostasis. Aggressive and anxious dogs might benefit from medication.
Talk to your vet / vet behaviorist if your dog may be a candidate. In most cases, an in person evaluation and history taking can indicate if your dog is showing signs that there is a need. Learn more about behavioral medication for dogs here.
- Kim S, Jo K, Hong K-B, Han SH, Suh HJ. GABA and l-theanine mixture decreases sleep latency and improves NREM sleep. Pharm Biol. (2019) 57:64–72. doi: 10.1080/13880209.2018.1557698 PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar
- Kimura R, Murata T. Effect of theanine on norepinephrine and serotonin levels in rat brain. Chem Pharm Bull. (1986) 34:3053–7. doi: 10.1248/cpb.34.3053 PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar
- Yokogoshi H, Mochizuki M, Saitoh K. Theanine-induced reduction of brain serotonin concentration in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. (1998) 62:816–7. doi: 10.1271/bbb.62.816 PubMed Abstract | CrossRef Full Text | Google Scholar
- Joseph A. Araujo, Christina de Rivera, Jennifer L. Ethier, Gary M. Landsberg, Sagi Denenberg, Stephanie Arnold, Norton W. Milgram, ANXITANE® tablets reduce fear of human beings in a laboratory model of anxiety-related behavior, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 5, Issue 5, 2010
- Guido Bosch, Bonne Beerda, Anton C. Beynen, Joanne A.M. van der Borg, Antonius F.B. van der Poel, Wouter H. Hendriks, Dietary tryptophan supplementation in privately owned mildly anxious dogs, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 121, Issues 3–4, 2009, Retrieved Feb 27, 2023, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2009.10.003.
- Whitney J. Engler, Melissa Bain, Effect of different types of classical music played at a veterinary hospital on dog behavior and owner satisfaction
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume/Issue: Volume 251: Issue 2 Online Publication Date: 15 Jul 2017, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.251.2.195, Retrieved Feb 28, 2023 from https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/251/2/javma.251.2.195.xml
- Lori R. Kogan, Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher, Allen A. Simon, Behavioral effects of auditory stimulation on kenneled dogs, Journal of Veterinary Behavior, Volume 7, Issue 5, 2012, Pages 268-275, ISSN 1558-7878, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2011.11.002. Retrieved Feb 27, 2023 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787811001845
- Sung-min Son, Sung-won Kwag, Effects of white noise in walking on walking time, state anxiety, and fear of falling among the elderly with mild dementia, Brain and Behavior, Volume 10, Issue 12, December 2020, Retrieved Mar 16, 2023 from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/brb3.1874
- Farokhnezhad-Afshar P, Khajali Z, Azarfarin R, Mahmoudi A. Effect of white noise on anxiety in patients admitted to the cardiac care unit. پرستاری قلب و عروق 2014; 3 (2) :48-55
Retrieved Mar 16, 2023 from: http://journal.icns.org.ir/article-1-214-en.html
- zaheri A, mehraban F, amiripour A, mehraban F, Esfandiari Bakhtiari R E B. Evaluation of the effect of white noise on anxiety level, vital signs, hemodynamic indices of patients undergoing open heart surgery in Ayatollah Kashani Hospital in Shahrekord. SJNMP 2022; 7 (3) :14-23
Retrieved Mar 16, 2023 from: http://sjnmp.muk.ac.ir/article-1-424-en.html
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