Believe it or not, our dogs can be just as susceptible to anxiety as we are. There are a number of reasons why a furry friend could be developing fearful behaviors based on their environment, as well as their breed. Separation anxiety affects an estimated 14% of dogs around the world—and that’s just one sort of stress. While it’s important to find the source of your dog’s anxiety, don’t rush to a prescribed medication (as well as its potential side effects) just yet.
As you look into ways to soothe your dog’s anxiety, consider natural methods that may improve their health in the long run.
1. Play Some Classical Music
Numerous studies show the benefits of playing music to your anxious dog. Research conducted by the University of Glasgow, in partnership with the Scottish SPCA, observed the effects of music played for dogs in kennels. After playing classical music over a two week period, they found an immediate decrease in the dogs’ stress levels. Although the calming effect eventually wore off, it is still worth noting the positive effect music can have on dogs. “The dogs became habituated to the music after as little as one day. It seems dogs, like humans, prefer to listen to a variety of music and not the same thing over and over again,” explained University of Glasgow’s Amy Bowman, PhD.
On the other hand, the most common anxiety in dogs is associated with loud noises (like fireworks and thunderstorms), according to PetMd. It is important to be mindful of a dog’s environment and avoid playing loud music during situations of high-level auditory stress. Instead, providing a distraction (like a gentle game of tug) can help to manage your dog’s anxiety during a loud storm.
2. Try a Natural Remedy
As a relatively new natural medical treatment on the market, CBD oil has been known to work wonders when it comes to anxiety. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-pain components have been shown to have a number of positive effects on a dog’s health. Studies have linked it to beneficial effects in the treatment of chronic illnesses in dogs, including arthritis, joint issues, epilepsy, diabetes, and anxiety.
While conclusive data supports the positive effect CBD oil can have on an anxious dog, experts suggest you consult with a veterinarian before giving your pet a new treatment.
3. Stick to a Daily Routine
For anxious dogs, unfamiliar situations may increase their levels of stress. Consider your existing daily routine and examine ways to provide some consistent comfort for your dog. Sticking to the same times when it comes to meals, walks, and playtime can help dogs with their anxiety.
“Most of the time, pet owners do have to do something different to help manage and improve their dog’s anxiety,” explains veterinary behaviorist Meredith Stepita, DVM. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, this may be a higher-priority step than most.
4. Go on a Long Walk
Just like exercise helps us shed layers of stress off our shoulders, it can help your dog, too. Make sure your furry friend is getting the amount of daily exercise it needs, whether it’s a long walk around the park or a quick jog through the neighborhood. Exercise boosts a dog’s production of serotonin, the chemical that makes us feel happy and energized.
Paying attention to your dog’s exercise routine can be particularly helpful when reducing separation anxiety, as well as any heightened level of stress such, as moving to a new environment. Not only will a long walk boost your dog’s health, it’ll do wonders for your health at the end of the day, too.
Vanessa Bermudez is a contributing writer for Remedy Review based in Brooklyn, New York. She is the co-founder and editor of Modern Girls, a collaborative digital space featured in Girl Gaze Project and Teen Vogue.