Dog owners want their furry family members to be happy and stress-free. However, certain situations, including thunderstorms, fireworks, vet visits, or long car rides, can cause your dog’s emotional balance to be a bit off. Some dogs also have dispositions that may cause them to overreact to certain situations. One solution for pet parents involves the use of calming treats for dogs. These specially-formulated snacks can help ease your dog’s nerves and promote a sense of tranquility.
What Are Calming Treats for Dogs? Do Calming Treats for Dogs Work?
Calming treats for dogs are snacks designed with ingredients intended to address stress from traveling, hospitalization, moving, or other situations that may cause stress. They come in various forms, including calming chews, biscuits, and even liquid additives for your dog’s food or water. Many pet owners find these treats an easy and effective way to help their dogs cope with stress and fear.
Natural Ingredients in Dog Calming Treats
The calming properties of these treats come from their unique ingredients, many of which contain natural ingredients that are commonly used in traditional herbal medicine to promote relaxation. Here are some common natural ingredients you might find in the best calming treats:
Chamomile in Calming Dog Treats
This herb is widely recognized for its calming properties. It’s often used in teas to promote relaxation and sleep, and it can have similar effects on dogs. Its active ingredients, including apigenin and luteolin, work on certain parts of the brain to help keep your pet calm and relaxed.
When administered correctly, such as through a weak chamomile tea added to your dog’s food or water, chamomile can serve as a safe and gentle way to calm the nerves and aid your dog in feeling more at ease.
Passionflower in Dog Calming Treats
Traditionally used to help pets maintain a normal and relaxed disposition and promote sleep, passionflower can help dogs cope with external stresses. The plant contains several potent compounds, including flavonoids and alkaloids, that are believed to increase the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.
GABA works to inhibit the activity of certain neurotransmitters, thereby reducing overall brain activity and helping to promote a state of calm and relaxation. This can be particularly beneficial for dogs that are dealing with stress, fear, or restlessness. When administered correctly, such as in the form of a nutritional supplement or incorporated into a calming treat, passionflower can help your dog maintain a state of calmness.
L-Theanine and L-Tryptophan in Calming Dog Treats
These amino acids are found in many calming products. L-Theanine, an amino acid found predominantly in tea leaves, is known to stimulate the production of brain waves associated with relaxation, supporting normal emotional balance without causing drowsiness. L-Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that the body converts into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in coping with external stresses.
Zesty Paws Calming Bites contain L-Theanine which promotes relaxation. These calming chews also contain hemp seed and chamomile. Calming chews may also provide stress relief by helping cope with external stresses.
Melatonin in Calming Dog Treats
Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in the pineal gland of the brain, plays a crucial role in regulating sleep-wake cycles in both humans and dogs. Known for its sedative properties, which can make your dog drowsy, melatonin can help promote feelings of calm and relaxation. Melatonin can also have a calming effect on their nerves and promote better sleep.
This can be particularly beneficial for dogs exhibiting nervousness, hyperactivity, discontentment, or responding to environmentally-induced stress. Additionally, melatonin is often used to help adjust a dog’s internal clock in situations involving changes in routine or time zone shifts, such as travel.
B Vitamins in Dog Calming Treats
B Vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining normal nervous system function and can contribute to a dog’s overall sense of well-being and calm. Each B vitamin has a unique function, but collectively, they work synergistically to support brain function, aid in neurotransmitter synthesis, and promote energy production.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) has been known to affect the central nervous system and support normal balanced behavior .
- Vitamin B6 is crucial for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that supports normal behavior patterns.
- Vitamin B12, on the other hand, is involved in supporting normal brain and nerve function.
By ensuring your dog has an adequate intake of B Vitamins, either through a balanced diet or supplements when necessary, you can help to support your pet’s neurological health.
Valerian Root in Calming Dog Treats
Valerian root contains compounds that interact with the nervous system, particularly by increasing the levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA inhibits nerve transmission in the brain, promoting relaxation in your dog. This herbal supplement also helps maintain contentment during separation, travel, motion sickness and tension caused by changes in your pet’s daily routine.
Organic Ginger Root in Calming Dog Treats
Organic Ginger Root, a well-known and widely used spice, has a number of benefits for dogs, including its ability to promote relaxation. Ginger contains compounds like gingerols and shogaols that promote normal inflammatory pathways and contains antioxidants to eliminate free radicals, which can help support proper digestion and bowel health. Calming dog treats with organic ginger root aids in maintaining normal inflammatory pathways and supporting proper digestion, which can help maintain calmness.
Full-Spectrum CBD for Dogs
Full-spectrum hemp extract, including compounds like CBD (cannabidiol), can support normal emotional balance. Full-spectrum implies that the extract contains all the naturally occurring compounds in the hemp plant, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils. CBD, the most active compound, interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is present in all mammals, including your dog’s body.
This system is involved in regulating various physiological and cognitive processes, including mood, discomfort sensation, and stress response. When CBD engages with the ECS, it can help to balance these processes, promoting a calming effect. And the presence of other cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils in full-spectrum extract can enhance these effects through what is known as the entourage effect.
When to Use Calming Treats
Most calming treats can be used in a variety of situations where your dog may feel stressed or fearful. These might include:
- During thunderstorms or fireworks: Loud noises can be terrifying for many dogs. A calming treat can help them relax during these events. (See our Calming Study Results from July 2022)
- At the vet or groomer: These can be high-stress environments for many dogs. Giving a calming treat before a visit can help make the experience less stressful.
- During travel: Whether it’s a long car ride or a flight, travel can be stressful for dogs. Calming treats can help with stress from traveling, moving or other situations.
- When introducing new people or pets: Bringing new individuals (human or animal) into your dog’s space can cause your dog to feel overwhelmed. Calming treats can help your dog maintain a normal emotional disposition during these introductions. However, if your dog begins to show aggressive behavior, they should not be forced to interact. Excessive barking is also a warning sign to give your dog a break.
- During times of separation: If your dog becomes destructive or cries when you leave, a calming treat can have a calming effect on their nerves while you’re gone.
A Highly Unregulated Industry: Are Calming Treats Safe?
The supplement industry, including pet supplements, is not as heavily regulated as the pharmaceutical industry. This means that the quality, safety, and effectiveness of calming treats for dogs can vary significantly from brand to brand.
Unlike prescription medications, supplements do not need to be proven safe or effective before they’re sold, and they don’t need approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Supplement manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe and correctly labeled, but there’s no guarantee they’re following these guidelines.
How to Find High-Quality Calming Treats for Dogs
Not all calming treats are created equal. It’s possible for a product to contain ingredients not listed on the label or different amounts of the ingredients than what is listed. In some cases, supplements have been found to be contaminated with harmful substances.
Also, while many calming treats are marketed as natural or organic, these terms are not strictly regulated and do not necessarily guarantee safe calming treats, nor do they guarantee quality.
So, how can you ensure you’re choosing high quality calming treats for dogs? Here are a few tips:
- Research the manufacturer: Look for brands that are transparent about their manufacturing processes and quality control measures. Look for brands that undergo third-party testing to verify the quality and purity of their products. Companies with the best calming treats aren’t afraid to share their results. Earth Buddy, for example, has third party lab results for all available products here.
- Check for recalls: Look up the brand on the FDA’s website to see if they’ve had any recent recalls or safety issues.
- Read reviews: Check out reviews from other pet owners. While individual experiences can vary, a pattern of positive or negative reviews can give you a sense of a product’s overall quality and effectiveness. Although there could be a couple negative reviews, good calming treats have mostly positive reviews.
- Be cautious of exaggerated claims: Reliable brands will typically provide more measured and realistic descriptions of their products’ potential benefits.
Look at the Whole Picture
While good calming treats can be an effective tool to promote emotional balance, they’re not a cure-all. They’re called supplements for a reason; because even the best calming treats are meant to supplement your dog’s overall wellness. They should be used as part of a comprehensive approach to managing your dog’s emotional stability, which might also include behavior modification techniques, regular exercise, and a high-quality diet.
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