Friday, April 4, 2014

Take a Chill Pill Part Two: Anti-anxiety supplements for dogs

Back in the fall, I wrote about Bruce being on prescription medication, which he still is and probably always will be.  Prior to starting that, we tried various training, calming, and desensitization techniques with varying degrees of success.

Faolan came to us with some fear and anxiety issues as well, but his manifested themselves differently than Bruce's.  While Bruce would act aggressively and be a huge jerk, Faolan would be incredibly fearful and pitiful.  He would submissively urinate, fall over and refuse to get up, etc.  He did demonstrate some similar behaviors as Bruce, whining, pacing, and panting for unknown reasons.

Upon first adopting Faolan, we did a large amount of trust building and confidence building with him.  Upon gaining some trust and building some confidence, some of his anxiety symptoms did get a bit better, but he was still whining and crying, and submissively urinating almost daily.

I did not feel that he "needed" a prescription medication, so instead decided to try a few different supplements, some of which I had previously used with Bruce.

He truly is a sweet "little" boy.

I am one who researches everything, particularly if it something my dogs are going to be ingesting.  One of the first supplements I stumbled upon was L-Theanine.I was very comfortable offering this, because it is an amino acid derived from green tea, and is commonly taken by people for it's calming effects.  It is actually the main/active ingredient in Anxitane.I had purchased this for Bruce prior to him starting on his prescription, and it had no effect on him.  I was trying hard to socialize Faolan, and decided to give what was left to him.  Not all at once of course.  I do feel this did have an effect on him, as he seemed to cry and whine less, particularly in the car, and acted a bit less pitiful when strangers approached him.

Bach's Rescue Remedy
Rescue Remedywas another I felt very comfortable giving, also aimed at humans.  There is a formula specifically for dogs, which does not contain alcohol.  It is composed of various flower essences, and people take it for a variety of reasons, including anxiety and motion sickness.  Unfortunately, neither Bruce nor Faolan would readily take this (though Neeko, who did not need it, always tried for the dropper).  I added a few drops to their water, but I cannot say I saw any sort of difference from using this.

I did quite a bit of research regarding dosing of Melatoninfor dogs, but couldn't find concrete dosages anywhere.  It is given to dogs for a variety of reasons, including epilepsy, alopecia, and storm phobias.  I gave Bruce a 5 mg tablet one morning, and then we walked him and Neeko a couple of hours later.  I did not see any difference.  He still had a screaming hissy fit if Neeko and I got more than 10 feet ahead of him and Les.  I decided to try it on Faolan one morning prior to a walk.  He puked it, along with his breakfast, up about 20 minutes later.  Fail.

Happy Traveler
After earning trust and building confidence in Faolan, many of his anxious moments were lessening greatly.  He had come to the point where he loved to go places, and very willingly got in the car.  Once we would start driving, the whining would start.  I did not want to deny him the opportunity to explore the world and meet new people,  I decided to give Happy Travelera try.  It is indicated for both anxiety and motion sickness.  While he never actually vomited in the car, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it, as it is simply a blend of various herbs.  I truly did notice a difference.  I first gave it to him prior to a nearly hour long car ride.  He did whine initially, but it wasn't as bad as usual, and he quickly stopped.  I now keep this on hand for him.

Pet Naturals of Vermont Calming Treats
More of a treat than a supplement, we did use these with success during our move.  More can be read HERE.

DAP Diffuser
DAP is Dog Appeasing Pheromone.  It is released by lactating mothers to calm puppies, and has shown to have a calming effect on adult dogs.  I purchased a Comfort Zone DAPdiffuser system, and used it for about three months.  I honestly do not know if I really saw that much of a difference with it.

I have tried a variety of different anti-anxiety products for dogs, with various degrees of success.  I am fortunate that Faolan has come such a long way, and now only has minimal episodes of anxiety and fear.  I think he has fear or submissively urinated twice in the last four months, which is pretty darn good, when it used to be a daily occurrence.  I feel that he has no need for these items now, with the exception of the Happy Traveler, which I do give him for car rides longer than 30 minutes.

Little boy has come a long way.  He now loves everyone he meets, though he does occasionally exhibit some slightly fearful behaviors around new people.  He still wants to greet them all, however.  He no longer paces, pants, or whines for unknown reasons.  He does do this weird yawn/whine thing when he knows he is about to eat, basically telling me to hurry up.  He rarely submissively urinates, and very rarely does the fall over and refuse to get up act.

My two boys have both taught me many lessons regarding anxiety and fear in dogs, and the various ways in which they can be managed.  I am lucky to have them as teachers.

Has anyone else tried any of these, or other anti-anxiety supplements?  Can anyone offer me any suggestions for Faolan's car anxiety?


  1. No we have not tried any of those and the only problem we had here was car sickness. due to the motion rather than anything else. Hope someone will be able to help. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. I have tried melatonin a couple times. The dosage I used was as directed by my vet. The reason I used it was for Koda, when we first brought him home, he was very upset and nervous and couldn't sleep and had a bad case of the whines. And for us the melatonin helped. We only had to give it to him for three nights and then he was on a good sleep schedule. Very interesting post and info!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  3. We've used Rescue Remedy in the past, with mixed results. (My Stormy used to have storm anxiety.) You can put it onto a treat - and put a couple drops on their skin (split the fur).
    Tried Melatonin, with my vet's blessing. If your dog has any known liver problems, do not use it. I didn't think it helped much.
    Tried the DAP diffuser. That was a bust.
    The Thunder Shirt has pretty good results. I didn't try it for Stormy, but our vet school bought a couple to use on fearful dogs and they've had fairly good results. The vet techs put one on Zim at one appointment, shortly after they got it, just to practice putting one on a larger, fluffier dog. :) He fell asleep in it, if that tells you anything.
    Hope you find something that helps!!!

  4. Interesting... Shiner has very mild anxiety in some situations. I've thought about melatonin, which I recently starting taking myself at night as a sleep aid. It seems to work OK for me, anyways... We have a calming spray, but I haven't used it enough to tell if it works or not.

  5. Thanks so much for this post! I have tried various different formulas on Ruby, with no results so far. I tried the DAP diffuser on the advice of my trainer with no change. I was really hoping for results with that because it was the least intrusive. I do have a prescription sedative to give when she gets her nails trimmed (I take her into the vet, because she just freaks out...don't know why). I am really thinking of trying the Thundershirt. She hates 'clothes' , so I haven't tried it to this point, but what the heck, what can it hurt, right? lol
    (Ruby's Mom)

  6. My Shyla has tons of anxiety, although she's come a long way. We've used a behavioral modification method called "BAT" with the help of a great trainer. It's helped, although things still freak her out sometimes. I mainly try to manage her fear. I do use a thundershirt when I can tell she's having a bad day. I tried some of the other remedies that you mentioned, with no real effect. Like Faolan, Shyla has had fears of new people, and they persist if I don't instruct new people about how to interact with her (don't look right at her, let her make the first move toward you, etc etc).

    It sounds as if Faolan has come a really long way. That's wonderful!

  7. Mom tried the DAP diffuser for Phantom with thunderstorms, but our house has such an open floor plan that she would need to have 5 or 6 running at the same time. But she has recently used the Adaptil spray on a bandana with Ciara and thinks that it has definitely had a positive effect on her anxiety.

    You are good to do all that research for your babies:)

    Woos - Phantom, Ciara, and Lightning

  8. Jack was on Prozac when we first adopted him, but with a good exercise regime and regular routine hw calmed done enough that we took him off within weeks. I've used rescue remedy a few times with him, but that's the only thing we've tried...oh wait, I do use the Through a Dog's Ear music - that works well too.

  9. I've used Suntheanine L-Theanine, Lactium, and Melatonin all with varying results on varying dogs :). Vito was also on prozac for about 2 years before I weaned him off. I went to a Dr. Karen Overall seminar a few years ago and found it soo interesting but the pharmaceutical world is intimidating.

  10. Very interesting post. Didn't know you could use melatonin that way for a dog. We used to give it to our last dog as part of her many cancer supplements she took. We've tried Rescue Remedy w/ a wee amount of success. All three of my dogs have HATED driving over cattle guards (you know, the bars in the road to keep cows from crossing out of their pastures?) - something about the rumbling sound the car makes would freak them out. Unfortunately there were about 6 of them in the last 30 min of a long drive to my mom's old place. I tried just about everything I could think of (including slowing WAY down - if no traffic - and creeping over them, and even Rx drugs from the vet). Nothing helped. It was nutty how they would freak out. Thank heaven my mom moved!

    We have also tried Through a Dog's Ear w/ Rita - it worked insanely well the first couple of times - but then the effect seemed to wear off.

  11. I've tried the Rescue Remedy on many of my past foster dogs for mild to severe separation anxiety. I never noticed it helping. I've also used it for Ace because he gets really anxious when we ride in the car to "exciting" places like parks. I've never noticed a difference with him either.

    I haven't tried any of the other options you suggested. Glad you've seen some progress with your pups. I used to have a golden who did a lot of submissive urinating, especially when she met new people. She also did a lot of whining whenever I took her to new places.

  12. Just found this post as I am looking for anything additional that may help my reactive and anxious dog. Did you try Lactium? I just ordered some per our behavioral specialist, and I am hoping it makes a difference for us...

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Thanks for the howls!!