Just like humans, dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety. Some dogs are naturally more anxious than others, while some dogs might experience something during their lifetime that causes them to be anxious and fearful in the future. Changes to environment and routine are often some of the most common reasons for stress and anxiety in dogs. While some dogs can benefit from being calmed and reassured by their favourite human, some will need a little bit more help to get back to a calm state. If your dog is dealing with mild to moderate anxiety, you may want to consider getting dog anxiety medication over the counter.
What Dog Anxiety Medication Over the Counter is Available?
Anxiety supplements for dogs are usually quite effective in helping a dog who is dealing with mild to moderate stress and anxiety. Many people find that their dog calms down during stressful situations such as Bonfire Night or a big move when they add supplements to their diet such as L-Theanine or S-Adenosylmethionine to their diet a few days before.
While there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back up the effectiveness of many homoeopathic anxiety supplements for dogs, there are plenty of dog owners who have used them and reported a positive change in their pooch. One popular dog anxiety medication over the counter that you can get for your pet is Rescue Remedy.
What Can I Give My Dog for Anxiety?
It’s never nice to see somebody that you love and care for suffering with anxiety, especially your pet. As pet owners, we do all that we can to keep our pets healthy and happy and it can leave us feeling quite helpless and even a little bit stressed out ourselves to see our precious pets feeling stressed and anxious over something that we might not be able to control. Some of the best dog anxiety medication over the counter that you can get to give to your dog to help calm them down include:
- L-Theanine: There are various supplements that contain this ingredient, like our daily calming supplement, Harmony. It's used to help your dog calm down when they are feeling anxious. They work by increasing dopamine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid in the dog’s central nervous system.
- S-Adenosylmethionine: This ingredient, often known as SAMe, is present in various anxiety supplements such as Virbac Novifit supplements or Nutramax Denosyl tablets. It works in a similar way as it does for people when it comes to helping reduce anxiety. These supplements are believed to work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain.
Best Herbal Sedative for Dogs
There are also various herbal and homeopathic sedatives and anxiety medications that you can get over the counter for your dog. Homeopathy is based on the ‘like treats like’ theory. Simply put, this means that this is a more natural form of treatment that is based on stimulating the natural ability of the body to respond to stressors. Homeopathic supplements are less likely to make the issue worse as the active ingredients are diluted to the point where the solution is ‘remembering’ their presence rather than increasing amounts of them. Some popular homeopathic and herbal anxiety remedies for dogs include:
- Rescue Remedy: This is a popular herbal treatment for dogs with anxiety. It is made with a diluted combination of five flower essences – cherry plum, rock rose, clematis, star-of-Bethlehem, and impatiens.
- HomeoPet Anxiety Relief: This herbal anxiety supplement for dogs includes a range of active ingredients including jimsonweed, valerian root, and calcium phosphate.
What Can You Give a Dog for Anxiety Over the Counter?
Along with supplements and herbal solutions for treating anxiety in dogs, you can also find various calming aids that are designed to help your dog feel more secure and reduce anxiety levels. These include:
Pheromone therapy involves using sprays, diffusers, or collars that release a dog-appeasing pheromone, which is a version of the hormone that female dogs produce to calm their puppies during nursing. In some cases, pheromone therapy might be effective for helping to calm a dog that is suffering from anxiety for various reasons. This can be a good option for dogs struggling with mild anxiety.
Various calming aids such as the ThunderShirt or Anxiety Wrap can be useful to use on a dog with anxiety as they follow the same premise weighted blankets do for humans. These are items that your dog can wear to provide consistent body pressure, which can help some dogs stay calm. It is designed to help them feel more secure, almost as if they are being hugged. Calming aids can be very useful for dogs who only tend to become anxious under certain conditions, such as on Bonfire night, when visiting the vet, or during thunderstorms.
High Strung Dog Medication Combined with Behavioural Therapy
In all but very mild forms of dog anxiety, it is often best to combine more than one form of treatment including prescription medications, pheromones, calming aids, nutritional supplements, and herbal supplements, with behavioural therapy for the best chance of success with your dog. Behavioural modification with a skilled trainer is often one of the best ways to reduce anxiety issues in dogs since it involves training your dog to remain calm in situations where they would normally be stressed. It works by exposing your dog to mild versions of their triggers and rewarding them when they stay calm, gradually changing their mindset to associate staying calm in these environments with praise and reward. As your dog gets used to the things that would once cause them to be anxious, you can gradually increase the intensity of the exposure.
What to Give a Dog with Anxiety Issues – Prescription Medication
If you are not sure why your dog is acting anxious or have tried some of the over-the-counter options and haven’t had great results, it’s best to speak to your vet who can carry out a full assessment and get a better idea of what might be causing the problem. Some dogs will act more anxious if they are suffering with an underlying health condition that will need to be treated.
Some of the most common prescription medications that your vet may suggest to treat anxiety issues in your dog include:
- Alprazolam: This is usually prescribed to dogs dealing with situation anxiety. It is a benzodiazepine, which depresses activity in some parts of the central nervous system. It is most effective when given at the earliest sign of anxiety or beforehand, if you know that there is an event coming up that is likely to stress your dog out.
- Amitriptyline: This medication may be prescribed to dogs with general anxiety or separation anxiety. This tricyclic antidepressant increases serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which impact mood.
- Buspirone: This medication tends to be mostly given to help dogs who become anxious in social situations. It is a member of the azaperone class of anxiolytics and should be used continually to be effective, making it unsuitable for dogs with more situational anxiety problems.
- Clomipramine: This is usually prescribed for separation anxiety in dogs and can be effective for situational and general anxiety. It is a tricyclic antidepressant that increases serotonin and norepinephrine production.
- Dexmedetomidine: Prescribed for situational anxiety, this medication is especially useful for dogs who have noise aversions and phobias. It works by depressing activity in certain parts of the brand to result in reduced anxiety levels. It is given in as a transmucosal gel in a multidose tube.
- Diazepam: This medication has a range of uses in dogs, but it is most effective for reducing anxiety, controlling seizures, relaxing muscles, and stimulating appetite. It is often prescribed to dogs who struggle with panic disorders. It should be given to dogs in advance of an event that is likely to cause anxiety for the best effect.
- Fluoxetine: A selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication, Fluoxetine is prescribed for separation anxiety, other types of anxiety, and behavioural issues. It works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain and is best given alongside a behavioural modification training programme for the best effects.
- Lorazepam: This drug should ideally be given to dogs in advance of an event that is likely to cause anxiety. It is a benzodiazepine sedative, working by depressing activity in certain parts of the dogs’ central nervous system.
- Paroxetine: This medication can be prescribed to a dog for a range of anxiety related behaviours such as fear of noises, self-mutilation, and aggression. It is an SSRI and works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.
- Sertraline: Another SSRI medication, this can be prescribed to dogs for various anxiety-related issues including fear-based aggression, separation anxiety, and thunderstorm phobia. It works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Dogs can suffer from anxiety for various different reasons. While there are various medications that your vet can prescribe to help with this, you can also try a range of over the counter medications and supplements that are useful for treating mild to moderate anxiety in dogs.