Herbs to Reduce Stress in Dogs

Study finds ginger, vanilla, coconut and valerian root are effective at reducing activity and vocalisations in kenneled dogs…might help with a stressed dog at home

Researchers exposed 15 dogs in shelter surroundings to a cloth with each of the scents on it for 2hrs then recorded their behaviour. They found:

• Vanilla and valerian reduce activity and vocalisations in kennelled dogs.

• Coconut and ginger reduce activity and vocalisations in kennelled dogs.

• Coconut and ginger increase sleeping behaviour in kennelled dogs.

The results are verifying what more natural-minded folks have known and have been using for years when needed. It might be useful for anyone with these issues in their pets or with dogs struggling to cope with being abandoned by their owners into a pound environment.

It’s so easy to do – vanilla from the long pod you can find in the health section, grate and leave around the place. Ginger you can simply pick up and grate it under their bedding. In fact, ginger also works extremely well for poor car travellers as it also settles the tum. Lots of studies back this up, though still folk aren’t sure how or why! In Guide Dogs we used to put lots of newspaper down under their blanket (works to reduce static too) and grate fresh ginger between the pages. It seemed to work a treat.

Tips when travelling with  your dog:

  • Window down for fresh air
  • Heat off, they don’t like engine air
  • Lots of thick paper down (reduce static, or simply use a static remover in your car)
  • Grate fresh ginger into their bedding or even include a bit in their food prior to travel
  • Don’t feed too close to journey
  • Consider some valerian root for very anxious travellers.
  • Keep initial journeys very short whilst applying the above, turn engine on, then off, get out and treat! Repeat, eventually just moving out of the driveway and back. Ideally, just drive to the park the first few journeys, nothing like a BIG reward to do stuff you don’t enjoy!

Of all the herbs the researchers used, valerian root is probably the most well known to induce calmness in pets (and horses and people).  It’s one of the core ingredients used in the likes of Kalms, the natural sleeping aid which I use should I be struggling to nod off, very effective. You can find it in your local health store. Even your supermarket might have it in teabag form which you can use. Same stuff (and nice and cheap). Failing all that you’ll always find it on Amazon.

valerian root for dogs

We stock a popular product by Holistic Hound called Calm & Balmy, based on valerian root but also lavender, oat seed, passionflower and hops (all very soporific or sleep-inducing inclusions), though we only deliver to the UK and Ireland, sorry US fans, it’s a liquid spray and your customs don’t like that!

For dogs with bad anxiety, studies show CBD oil is very effective at controlling and reducing stress and anxiety in humans and rats and I have heard it works quickly in dogs too. However, it is a more expensive solution, so maybe start with the more readily accessible items above before considering.

Please remember guys these herbs are simply plasters, a short-term solution for a troubled dog. If he’s in kennels there’s little you can do but if you have a dog at home with separation anxiety or doing excessive barking, I have written an extensive article of how to deal with it. You can check it out here – Excessive Barking and Separation Anxiety in Dogs.

Dr. Conor Brady

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.
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