Thunderstorms. Fireworks. Separation. These are just a few of the things that can trigger anxiety in both dogs and cats. Pets who suffer from anxiety will often exhibit signs of distress, such as:
Urinating or defecating in their home
In some cases, a fearful pet will become destructive or injure themselves. For example, a dog with separation anxiety might scratch frantically at a door in an effort to get out, or a cat afraid of thunderstorms might bolt out an open window.
So how do we achieve zen pet status? Read on about various calming aids and their level of efficacy.
Are calming aids effective?
If you have an anxious pet, you have probably seen the different calming products available today and wondered if they are worth a try. While many owners swear by these products, scientific research on the effectiveness of calming products is still very limited. Some of the edible calming products do, however, contain ingredients that have been studied and shown to have a calming effect. These ingredients include but are not limited to melatonin, GABA, L-tryptophan, and casein.
Of course, your pet's anxiety levels will play a big part in whether these products will work for them or not. For instance, if your dog or cat has severe anxiety, calming aids may only be slightly effective. But if your pet's anxieties are minor, these aids could be highly effective.
Calming aids for dogs
Calming chews and supplements
Depending on the edible calming aid you choose, these products can be used every day or on an as-needed basis. Some are designed to be given to your dog as a treat, while others can be sprinkled over their food. These edible aids typically include natural proteins known for their calming effect, such as L-Tryptophan.
Some owners claim that CBD oil — which is made from hemp — has a calming effect on their pets. The good news is that CBD oils don't contain the psychoactive properties of marijuana and so are considered safe for canines.
Thundershirts work on the same principle as swaddling a baby. So, they should fit tightly around your dog's torso. This creates a hugging sensation, which can be very comforting for an anxious pet.
These products, which are worn around the neck of your pet, release calming properties — such as natural herbs or pheromones — that are intended to comfort stressed-out canines.
Calming aids for cats
Chews and supplements
Edible calming options for cats include supplements that can be sprinkled over their food, treats, or pet diets that have been formulated specifically to help soothe anxious felines.
Unlike marijuana, CBD oil does not contain THC, which is poisonous to cats. Many owners who have used these oils claim that they do have a soothing effect on their felines.
These tight-fitting garments are supposed to calm an anxious feline in the same way that swaddling comforts a human baby. For some cats, the garments do work well. Some owners, however, have reported that these tight-fitting garments inadvertently increased their cats’ anxiety.
These diffusers release artificial cat pheromones into the air of the room in which they are located. When inhaled by a cat, these pheromones are meant to have a soothing effect on them.
If you find that these products aren't effective in calming your anxious pet, talk to your veterinarian about other options, such as medication. Having pet insurance will typically cover anxiety medications, as long as it's not for a preexisting condition.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.