While you won't find Scruffy fixing himself a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed, you can help soothe his nerves with some calming foods. These foods may have specific stress-reducing properties or may contain ingredients known for taking the edge off, allowing your pooch some relaxation.
Low Carbohydrate Diet
Just as children may get a sugar rush from living on a diet of Kool-Aid and M&M's, your dog may become hyperactive and hypersensitive from being fed a bad diet. The culprit seems to be the high carbohydrate levels found in many commercial dog foods that act like sugar, causing bouts of excessive energy lasting for about two hours after being ingested. When pet owners switch from a high-carbohydrate diet to a low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet, they start noticing less anxiety-based behavior according to behavior consultant and trainer Casey Lomonaco.
Is your dog ready for a session of doggie Zen? L-tryptophan is an amino acid responsible for increasing the levels of serotonin, a chemical responsible for generating general feelings of happiness while reducing impulsivity and aggression, according to veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman. Several companies produce lines of calming treats and cookies that contain sources of tryptophan such as organic pumpkin extract and oats.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found in the leaves of green tea; it's known for producing a relaxing effect in dogs. If brewing is not your dog's cup of tea, you may be happy to learn that there are several chews and treats on the market already supplemented with this calming nutritional supplement.
If you are looking for a treat with natural herbs, consider ones with chamomile. Cookies supplemented with chamomile and lavender will help sooth a reactive Rover. If your dog gets easily stressed out during such events as car drives, you can try to soak a treat in chamomile tea and give it before the long drive, according to Natural Dog Health Remedies.
- Dogster: Nine Calming Aids for Fearful, Anxious or Nervous Dogs
- Rancho Coastal Humane Society: How Does Diet Affect Behavior in Dogs?
- PetPlace.com: Tryptophan
- Virbac Vet: Use of L-Theanine Tablets and Behavior Modification for Treatment of Phobias in Dogs
- Natural Dog Health Remedies: Natural Remedies for Hyperactive Dogs
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.