It’s a well-known fact that nutrition plays a vital role in our furry friends’ lives, but do you know there are supplements specifically designed to help calm an overly energetic and restless pup? These natural and holistic calming supplements can effectively deal with common behavioral and anxiety-related issues. But what Supplements can you give to a dog to help them relax?
Calming supplements, along with proper exercise, training, and socialization, can help your dog wear out bad behaviors and relax. Some of the best calming supplements for dogs include CBD Oil, Glucosamine, Melatonin and Lignans, Fish Oil, Tryptophan, L Theanine, Antioxidants, Probiotics, and GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid).
These supplements can help to reduce stress hormones in the body, aid in relaxation, improve focus and concentration and even modulate mood and behavior. With the right combination of diet and supplementation, an hyperactive or anxious dog can be successfully managed and trained.
This article will investigate how an unhealthy diet can influence your pet’s behavior. I’ll also highlight the most popular calming additives available and explore potential risks associated with these supplements.
What Are Dog Supplements?
A dietary supplement is an ingredient added to a pet’s diet in order to improve nutrition and enhance health or well-being. Supplements provide essential nutrients that may be difficult to obtain from food and can help improve the quality of life for some dogs. These can include vitamins, minerals, herbs, enzymes, fatty acids, and other amino acids. Supplements are designed to boost the overall health of your dog and address specific health issues that can trigger ill behavior in dogs, like:
- Digestive and immunity problems
- Joint and mobility issues
- Heart health
- Skin and coat
Besides these, supplements also help to relieve emotional issues in dogs like depression, anxiety, stress, aggression, etc.
How an Unbalanced Diet Contributes to the Health & Behavioral Issues
Working dogs are exposed to a multitude of tasks and scenarios, which is why they require an appropriate diet that meets their specific activity levels. Dogs whose diets are already healthful, complete, and nutritionally balanced mostly don’t suffer from any health issues and won’t benefit from most supplements. However, those with an unbalanced diet often have poorer health and more behavioral problems because:
- Poor-quality foods often lack important vitamins and minerals that can help keep a working dog’s immune system strong, meaning that it is more vulnerable to illnesses and infections.
- Low-quality food often lacks the essential nutrients that help the body recover from strenuous activities. Insufficient levels of these nutrients can lead to mental and physical fatigue.
- An unbalanced diet contains low-quality carbohydrates & too many filler ingredients. It will make your dog feel uncomfortable, which may lead to aggression.
- A diet that is too low in protein, like many commercial kibbles, can lead to a tryptophan deficiency. This, in turn, often leads to depression and low moods.
- Low-quality protein (meat byproducts or highly processed protein) is a rich glutamate source that causes dogs’ overexcitability.
9 Popular Calming Supplements To Train Out Bad Behaviors
Supplementing your working canine diet can make a huge difference in helping them settle down and focus better on their training and learning new behaviors or unlearning existing ones. For this process to be successful:
- It should be combined with exercise and mental stimulation. Exercise helps maintain physical fitness and releases endorphins which can improve moods. Mental stimulation keeps them from getting bored.
- Combining these elements into your dog’s diet can help promote a more relaxed and focused mind in your pup.
- The supplement will provide specific nutrients that target dogs’ brain chemistry to boost their cognitive abilities, improve reaction time and alertness, and reduce stress levels – all of which are essential when trying to train out bad behaviors.
There are a variety of dog supplements available on the market, each with its own set of benefits. Here are nine popular options:
CBD oil is a non-psychoactive extract from the cannabis plant known for its therapeutic potential. Its active ingredient, cannabidiol (CBD), has been found to possess anti-inflammatory properties, provide cardiac benefits, reduce nausea, and vomiting, and have anti-anxiety effects. This makes it an ideal natural option for many canine illnesses and can remarkably positively impact dogs during training.
Glucosamine is the most widely used supplement for dogs. It is an amino sugar that lubricates joints and helps build cartilage, which is essential for maintaining your dog’s mobility. It’s extracted from shellfish shells and can also be man-made in labs. Glucosamine supplements commonly contain chondroitin sulfate, which is present in connective tissues such as bone and cartilage.
Many veterinarians believe that glucosamine supplements could relieve a dog from:
- Canine arthritis and other joint issues
- Reduce pain & inflammation and increase mobility in older dogs.
- Reduce the damage to cartilage and stimulate the production of new cells for joint repair.
When your pup is dealing with any of these issues, supplementing their diet with glucosamine can make a world of difference in improving their behavior.
Melatonin and Lignans
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body that helps control the circadian rhythm. Lignans are compounds found in plants, such as flaxseed, that positively affect hormones and overall health. Melatonin and lignans are generally sedative agents that can help calm people or animals, including dogs. Benefits of using these include:
- Restore the body’s sleep cycle and reduce anxiety
- Balance hormones and provide additional antioxidant protection
- Provide protective benefits against age-related decline
This powerful combination is also beneficial for dogs suffering from Cushing’s disease (caused by a tumor in the adrenal glands or pituitary).
Fish oil is a great supplement for dogs that can provide many health benefits. It contains Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are known to improve the overall condition of your pet’s fur by moisturizing it from within. Other benefits of fish oil include:
- The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help improve memory and learning and aid in the development of new neural pathways.
- Fish oil reduces inflammation (caused by allergies or other skin issues) and joint pain while maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Boost your dog’s immune system and cardiovascular health, and even aid in weight loss.
- It also aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K in your dog’s diet.
All these benefits make it an ideal supplement for keeping your pup healthy and happy!
Dogs can display aggression if they are trying to assert dominance or out of fear due to loud noises or fireworks. Lower-protein foods have been known to help with fear and dominance aggression tendencies, but an additional option is to give your dog tryptophan supplements. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in natural food sources such as turkey, eggs, and fish.
It Increases serotonin levels (a chemical responsible for regulating mood and behavior) in the body and brain, resulting in calming effects on:
Theanine, otherwise known as L-theanine, is an amino acid extracted from tea leaves and has a soothing effect on dogs. When used as a supplement, not only does it promote the dog’s natural production of serotonin, but it also increases the availability of dopamine, another neurotransmitter that:
- Promote feelings of relaxation and contentment without causing drowsiness and reduce the symptoms of stress.
- Reduces activity in some areas of the brain linked with nervousness, fear, and aggression responses.
- Reduces heart rate and blood pressure, contributing further to a feeling of tranquility.
- Improve attentiveness, mental clarity, and alertness.
Giving theanine orally is a safe and effective way to help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs during training.
● Promote feelings of relaxation and contentment without causing drowsiness and reduce the symptoms of stress.
● Reduces activity in some areas of the brain linked with nervousness, fear, and aggression responses.
● Reduces heart rate and blood pressure, contributing further to a feeling of tranquility.
● Improve attentiveness, mental clarity, and alertness.
Giving theanine orally is a safe and effective way to help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs during training.
Antioxidants in substances like vitamins C and E protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can damage cell membranes and cause cell death, leading to diseases. Not only do antioxidants shield against radicals, but they also offer a number of other benefits, like,
- Antioxidants protect the brain from oxidative damage and stimulate cell growth, allowing for better memory and learning ability.
- They also reduce inflammation within cells, helping protect against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Antioxidants boost the immune system and reduce the risk of infections, protect against tissue damage caused by environmental pollutants and toxins, and reduce inflammation.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial for your dog’s digestion. They help the digestive system work effectively by restoring the balance of bacteria in the intestinal tract. Probiotics are beneficial for a dog’s overall immune system and can help them fight certain types of infections; furthermore, probiotics can:
- Alleviate vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel disorders, and other digestive issues allowing your pup to remain relaxed.
- Bifidobacterium longum, a specific probiotic strain, helps dogs feel less stressed.
- Enhance absorption of nutrients and water
- Increase energy levels and lower cholesterol levels
Providing your pet with the right probiotic supplement tailored to their specific needs can tremendously affect their quality.
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a natural amino acid that improves the emotional state of aged dogs by increasing the availability of GABA in the brain and facilitating efficient communication between neurons. This helps regulate emotions and reduce feelings of agitation, restlessness, and irritability, allowing for a more relaxed lifestyle. Additionally, GABA can reduce the risk of seizures in older pets.
Important Caveats To Keep in Mind
Before you dive headfirst into supplement use, here are some vital considerations to keep in mind:
- Prior to providing your pup with any supplements, be sure to consult with a vet first. If an underlying medical condition requires treatment or if the dog is on other medications, they can provide you with accurate information regarding supplement dosage and which ones may pose potential risks.
- Only buy supplements from a dependable and highly-respected company to ensure your pup’s health. Look for one that specializes in this area, has conducted clinical studies, or earned certification from an unbiased organization.
- Additionally, don’t forget to check the label tag of any product you purchase – make sure it contains exactly the ingredients needed for your furry friend!
- Supplements alone are not a comprehensive solution for dog behavior issues. While they may help to settle your pup’s mind and create the environment where training can occur, it is essential that you also utilize professional training methods to address underlying behavioral causes.
- Beware of extravagant promises that are too good to believe. Supplements will not heal cancer, parvo, or any other severe illness.
- Never presume that human supplements are beneficial for canines. Certain products, such as those containing Xylitol, can be hazardous to their health if ingested.
Potential Risks Involved With Dog Supplementation
Although dog supplementation can have benefits, there are also some risks that come with it. Here are a few potential risks to be aware of before you make the decision to supplement your dog’s diet.
It is essential to be mindful of the dosage when giving your pet supplements. Supplements are necessary for many dogs; however, too much can have severe effects on their health. An overabundance of particular nutrients can then cause dangerous toxins to accumulate in organs like the liver, kidney, and pancreas, which then lead to an imbalance in your pet’s bodily functions. This can cause electrolyte abnormalities that may result in seizures, gastrointestinal discomfort, anemia, coordination problems, dehydration, paralysis, or even death.
Interactions With Other Medications
Dogs often require medication to maintain their overall health and well-being. Some supplements can interact negatively and interfere with the absorption of the active ingredient in prescription medications, leading to potential health problems.
For instance, if your pup is on a blood thinner, vitamin K found in some supplements can reduce its effect and lead to low platelet levels, putting them at risk for a serious bleeding disorder.
If your dog has a known food or environmental allergy, some ingredients in certain supplements may trigger an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions are caused by an immune system’s response to something that is perceived as harmful or dangerous. Common signs of an allergic reaction in dogs include coughing, sneezing, itchiness, redness, swelling, and hives.
It is important to recognize the signs of an allergic reaction in your dog, as some reactions can be life-threatening.
Calming an overactive or anxious dog can be difficult, but with the right supplements and tools, you can help your pup find inner peace. Many options are available to help support your pup’s mental health. The key is finding the right combination of supplements that work best for your pup. If you find that the supplements aren’t helping or your pet’s anxiousness persists, consider talking to your veterinarian about other options that may be available.
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal (DVM, RVMP)
Dr. Mohsin Iqbal is a licensed veterinarian with more than 5 years of experience in veterinary medicine. After receiving his DVM degree from The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan, he worked as a
veterinarian in both government and private sectors. He has a deep passion for animal welfare and has been working for various animal welfare organizations since he was a student. Being President of Animal Rescue Organization Pakistan (AROP), he has been actively involved in animal rescue and welfare activities. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his rescue dogs and cats.