| We all want to see our dogs calm, confident, happy and relaxed. And hopefully most of the time they are those things… but, anxiety is an issue that can and does arise in the dog psyche more often than we’d like – related to veterinary visits, thunderstorms, or separation from a beloved human (or other canine!) The question of anxiety and what can be done about it from a nutritional perspective is one I encounter regularly, and one of the hardest to give a stock answer to, because in all truth there is so much variance in cause and severity. While diet alone can make a great difference, it will not effect much change if the issue is not dietary to start with. In other words, a protein-reactive dog WILL show improvement with lowered protein in the diet, but if he isn’t sensitive to protein it isn’t likely to help. One of my own (male Ridgeback and very hyperactive) dogs is sensitive to even a couple of percentage points increase. However, dogs evolved to have a high tolerance for protein – there is no actual Safe Upper Limit although problems with excess do exist outside of the behavioural. Personally I tackle this problem on multiple levels: but in terms of protein I lower the levels to RA (Recommended Allowance) if it is higher; to minimal requirement if it is at RA. It’s a good idea to include turkey in all the diets, as the sole or partial protein source. Supplemental tryptophan may help; and it’s important to note that if a dog has been on a high carbohydrate diet with a lot of simple sugars either in the diet or added as treats, the dietary adjustment should be to minimize those carbs and raise both the “good “fats and quality protein sources. One cannot assume that all dogs need lowered protein if they tend to reactivity or nervousness, each case must be evaluated individually.Anxiety needs to be looked at behaviourally, of course; I consider nutritional adjustments , appropriate herbs, and gentle de-conditioning to form the basis of the programme. TTouch, Flower Essences and assorted other ideas (like DAP) can help a great deal as well.General, overall nervousness needs a different approach from the dog who has situational fear or specific phobias, especially herbally, but all can benefit from one or more of the ideas below.Let’s break this down for the sake of coherence. 🙂
Again – what are the protein levels like in the diet? Some dogs who are on
While many people swear by Rescue Remedy, I have
There is just so much you can do here. I’ll try to keep this brief.
For those unfamilair with what TTouch – Tellington Touch – is, have a look around this site for an idea:
What I can say – as a practitioner-in-training – I’ve taken five of the six required trainings, and plan to complete the last one this year – is that Ttouch is deeply powerful and transformative work. I use it for anxiety, but a whole host of other issues, and simply as a means to connect and deepen my relationship with all my companion animals. Well worth looking into whether you have anxiety issues or not.
First, I’d suggest looking into an anxiety wrap, which can help create a sense of safety and confidence. My own dog with thunder-issues is much better in her wrap and also prefers to be in her “den” – a space with a bed under my computer. Is there a place your dog wants to be when she is panicking? You could look into some basic TTouches such as ear slides and deeply relaxing light circles along with the wrap. Have a look:
An experienced Tellington Touch professional can be of great help to you as well, so if you have a problem that isn’t responding to these measures, consider contacting someone locally. A list of practitioners can be found here: http://www.ttouch.com/pracDirectory.shtml
And while I learned to just use the tensor bandages, and be tuned in to what seemed to work for the indivdual dog today we have the Thundershirt, so well worth a look as part of your anti-anxiety toolkit: http://www.thundershirt.com/
Many people report good things about the DAP diffuser:
You might also want to look into some music therapy for thunderphobic canines: http://www.livingwithdogs.us/books/music.html
Two last ideas: acupuncture for severe cases, and massage. If there is a licensed acupuncturist in your area and your case is unresponsive to these home measures I’ve listed, you could seek some professional help.
Dr. Fox’s book The Healing Touch is the one I work with but there are many, many others available now.
Note that I am not recommending herbs here – well, not yet. I feel that herbs deserve a whole separate section as this is something I’ve been studying in much greater depth the past several years, and it’s important to know which ones can help your individual most. We’ll look at chamomile, passionflower, kava kava, skullcap, valerian, blue vervain and several others in my entry on herbs for anxiety and other nervous issues; using them alone, in formulations, in what form and how to decide which one(s) are best suited to your dog.
And look into a behaviourist.A good, qualified, experienced and all-positive trainer/behaviourist is your very best friend – for all dog problems. ALong with everything else.
Manual of Natural veterinary Medicine, Steve Marsden and Susan Wynn
practical experience/case studies/years on yahoogroups and personal research
Bach Flower Remedies for Animals; Stefan Ball and Judy Howard
all of Linda Tellington-Jones’ books, plus five trainings