Just like us, pets can also suffer from anxiety — and if you’re a parent to an anxious pet, you know how stressful and upsetting that can be. Anxiety in pets can manifest different types of ways, depending on your fur baby. Some cats and dogs will excessively lick or scratch themselves as a way to self-soothe. Some dogs will bark at the mere sight or sound of something they’re unfamiliar with. And especially when a social pet is left alone, they can quickly develop separation anxiety, which can lead to not-so-fun behaviors. While separation anxiety (and anxiety in general) can be pretty common (especially with dogs who prefer it if they were with their person 24/7), it makes it no less sad to see your pet so upset.
Luckily, there are a bunch of ways you can treat your pet’s anxiety, and they’re all natural and safe (although we always recommend you double-check with your vet before trying any supplements). We put together a list of highly rated and approved products which have been proven to help both cattos and doggos manage their stress levels. Unlike us, they can’t just pour themselves a glass of wine and watch a few episodes of Real Housewives, so we’ve gotta help them as much as we can and be as responsible as possible.
CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is a compound derived from the Cannabis plant that people use to relax or alleviate pain — naturally! CBD contains no psychoactive ingredients, so it doesn’t actually get you high, and so far tests have shown that it’s safe (as long as you get the CBD product from a reputable source). The verdict is still out for whether CBD is an effective anti-stress and pain relief supplement (more tests need to be done), but many folks claim it’s their go-to for a natural chill pill. CBD companies make products for pets too, which many pet parents find super helpful.
In fact, we tried CBD here at The Pet Collective, and saw awesome results. Our very own Georgie gave her anxious pup Mops a few drops of CBD hemp oil, which made her calm down almost instantly. Watch the video below!
CBD not only helps with anxiety, but could also aid with seizures and arthritis. We’ve found that CBD Dog Health products are efficient and pet-approved. They also come in different forms, like oils and treats you can give orally, or balms that you can massage into their fur (CBD can help with allergies, bug bites, and hot spots). It’s a great alternative for anti-anxiety medication, especially if you want to try something natural first before resorting to prescriptions.
When it was just me and my cat Yoshimi, I was advised that she may be feeling stressed out by being an only child. When she was younger, Yoshimi used to act out which mostly meant that she’d attack my feet wherever I’d walk and compulsively scratch and lick herself. Feliway creates synthetic feline facial pheromones that mimic the presence of other cats, which can create a calming presence for some lonely kitties. I got two of these diffusers and plugged one into each bedroom. After about a day, Yoshimi stopped attacking me. She also started playing with her toys more instead of constantly grooming herself. When I moved from San Diego to Los Angeles, I made sure the diffusers were plugged in at my new place. For some pets, moving is really traumatic (as it is for humans!), so you want to make sure the experience is as stress-free as possible. Yoshimi settled in pretty much right away. I used Feliway up until I got my second cat and playmate for Yosh and found it super helpful.
The Snuggle Puppy toy is perfect for a puppy you just introduced to your family, or grown-up pup who suffers from separation anxiety (or other kinds of stress) and would benefit from having a buddy around. This toy “recreates the intimacy and physical warmth” of another dog and helps calm down your pet so they can either sleep through the night, or self-soothe during a storm or fireworks. This is especially effective if your doggo already loves their toys. Now they have a toy that interacts with them and makes them feel less alone. Snuggle toys exist for cats, too!
This long-lasting spray uses soothing scents that help ease stressful moments for your cat. It’s easy to use (just spray it where they hang out the most), and wait a few minutes for the formula to do its magic. While there are many pet calming sprays out there, this one is a customer-favorite. Some reviews say that this spray helped their hyperactive kitty almost immediately. Nature’s Miracle doesn’t use any ingredients that would make cats drowsy, either, so you don’t need to feel like you need to force a nap on your kitty in order for them to feel less stressed out.
5. Leave the TV or radio on if you’re away at work
Leaving the TV or radio on can be soothing for some pets, who may feel less alone if they hear other noises (whether it’s people talking or nature sounds). While this doesn’t work for every pet (Health says it works best for pets who are already pretty responsive to the TV when you’re watching), it certainly doesn’t hurt. Leaving the TV or radio on while you’re away at work or school could prevent anxiety-induced damage and other unwanted behaviors. You can also access The Pet Collective for catto and doggo-friendly content on streaming platforms like Xumo, Pluto, Roku, Redbox, Comcast, Stirr, Twitch and Samsung TV. Worst case scenario, you might see your power bill go up, but try it out a few times while you’re only gone for a short amount of time and see how your pet is feeling when you get home.
My dog tends to get antsy pretty easily, especially if she’s due for a walk, or I haven’t been home for a couple hours. What’s been helping us out recently, are these calming chews made with natural ingredients like hemp (which is different from CBD, but still *does not* get your dog high), chamomile, ginger, valerian root, and real chicken flavor that turns this supplement into a delicious treat. I give one to my pup before we go on a walk (ever experience a 75-pound dog have the zoomies while on a walk? It’s cute, but it’s not fun) and she is incredibly calm the entire time. This also works whenever I have to leave for a couple hours. I’ve asked neighbors and have been told the amount of barking goes way down after she’s had her dose of calming chews.
This magic, homeopathic potion is beloved by many pet parents who just put a few drops into their pet’s food or water. The supplement contains five ingredients extracted from flowers (Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Cherry Plum, Impatiens, and Clematis) that are potent enough to instantly calm down cats and dogs of all sizes, but natural and safe enough to use multiple times a day if needed.
8. A T-shirt that smells like you
For some dogs, leaving an item of yours with them can help them feel less alone (the more pungent the item, the better – so make sure to include something that hasn’t been washed recently). If you left an item that used to belong to your dog’s parents when they were a puppy, you probably know that this is a great (and usually really effective) way to crate-train and establish a “safe” space that mimics what would be their den. This method can also work for cats (ever notice your kitty prefers to nap on your sweaters?), who are soothed by your presence even if you’re not around.
The Thundershirt (which has 4 stars and almost 11,000 reviews on Amazon) is an effective way to calm down a pooch who’s feeling anxious, stressed, or scared. This comfy harness (which works by applying an even amount of pressure to your dog’s body — this can feel very soothing!) was made in mind for pups who get scared during thunderstorms or fireworks, but it also works when your doggo is just feeling out of sorts — whether that’s due to separation anxiety, or a new environment. Best of all, if this doesn’t work for your pup, you can return the Thundershirt for a full refund.
10. Aromatherapy Pet Spa in a Box Dog Shampoo, Dog Grooming Spray, Candle Scented Animal Lover Gift Set & Pet Odor Eliminator, $28.99
Some dogs (and cats!) really love it when you groom them. In fact, brushing pets’ fur can be a really calming experience as well as a distraction when they’re feeling fussy, anxious, or bored (or all three, because our fur babies contain multitudes). This kit comes with shampoo, spray, and a candle that contain natural, non-irritating ingredients like Vitamin E oil, lavender, and aloe vera (and definitely no parabens, bleach, or chemical fragrances). Not only can this help chill out your fur babe, it’ll make them smell like they spent the day at the spa. Win-win. If your pet has extra-sensitive skin, double-check with your vet, or try a small patch of fur first to make sure this won’t irritate them.
I can attest that my dog love love loves her bully sticks, and if I can sense that she’s feeling especially restless or stressed, I give her one to chew on. She can stay busy with her bully stick for at least an hour (since she’s gotten bigger, it takes less and less time to go through a stick though). While these can be pricey, I prefer to give my dog Best Bully Sticks because they’re made with one high-quality ingredient (literally just dried out bull testicles — gross, I know, but dogs loooove them) that’s good for your dog’s health, and safe to digest. Plus, they’re AKC-approved as a safe chew.
However! It’s important to supervise chew time, since if your doggo swallows too big of a piece of stick, it could potentially get logged in their stomach and cause major (and potentially dangerous) digestive issues.
Especially if you have a working dog, or a dog who enjoys daily activities, getting them a toy that will help stimulate their brain can work wonders. Not only does it keep your pup busy for hours, but it can help them de-stress (sometimes dogs feel anxious and bored because they don’t have a “job” to do — something many breeds were essentially programmed to want to have). All you have to do is hide treats in the slots and watch your pup sleuth their way to discovering which slots have the hidden noms. This is my dog’s favorite interactive toy. She never gets tired of it, and I can tell she’s happier and more fulfilled after she’s spent some time playing with it.
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