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Anxiety – A General Natural Approach – Part I

Anxiety – A General Natural Approach – Part I

Uh Oh…  Expecting a storm?  Perhaps fireworks?  You are on your way to the vet?  Dog parents often feel helpless when their dogs go into panic mode.  There are things that can be done.  Remedies are not a one size fits all so it is a good idea to check to see which one(s) work best for you.  I have a bunch of products that I loaned to someone.  I told her to try each one on separate occasions and not to mix them.  She is in the process of finding out what works for her dog.  I will be writing a more detailed articles about each method type.  It will be my Anxiety Sequence.

What do dogs do when they are anxious?
Phobias and stressful situations bring upon fear and anxiety.  Some dogs freak out from loud noises (like fireworks or thunder).  Others might experience separation anxiety, vet visits.  There are several ways dogs might express anxiety include excessive barking, trembling, pacing, whimpering, panting…

Conventional Veterinarian Medicine
Conventional veterinary practices typically exclude natural methods of treatment.  Such expertise requires extensive study beyond conventional veterinary programs.  There might be a program offering an elective course in holistic methodology, but a single course won’t be able to teach all the modalities which require years of study.  Such course material conflicts with pharmaceutical corporations that contribute to veterinary schools. 

What are the options?
There are other ways though.  Holistic methods have been around for thousands of years and are quite effective. Depending upon the dog one treatment might be more effective than another.  What works for one dog might not work for another.  Some methods work over time while others can be used when a stressful is expected.  Although all the treatments are gentle and generally safe, some dogs might not be able to take certain treatments.  For example, if your dog is pregnant or nursing, has certain diseases or conditions, confirm with your vet that it will be ok.


Lifestyle is First

A Little Background
Daily care makes a big difference.  Dogs require the essentials to enable their bodies to function optimally.  Overall health is an important factor


Mutt Chasing Beagle on Wet Sand 1024
Physical activity relieves stress and gets rid of excess nervous energy. 


Barfworld Food and PackageA species appropriate diet enables a dog’s body to function optimally.  They are less prone to chronic health issues like ear infections, allergies…  Dogs with chronic issues are likely to suffer more.  A dog who chews his paws from allergies is likely to express his nervousness by chewing even more leading to infections.  A dog with  an ear infection might express his nervousness by scratching more and causing further damage.  A dog with stomach issues are likely to have diarrhea episodes.  Dogs on a biologically appropriate diet rarely have such issues.  They tend to be much healthier so their bodies have an advantage when stressful events occur.  I have tons of articles about biologically appropriate diets.  I have fed my dogs Barfworld for many years.  BARF is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.  My article The BEST Dog Food explains why feeding raw is so critical.


Training – Desensitization

A Little Background
Desensitization is a systematic training method in which teaches dogs tolerance for certain stimuli.  It is a process in which you expose the dog to a troublesome situation in a tiny intensity then slowly increase the intensity in tiny increments.  Eventually the dog will develop better tolerance to the scary stimulus.  Distracting dogs sometimes helps by providing activities that your dog loves and interacts with (a favorite toy, hiding treats…).   It all depends on the severity of the fear and anxiety.

For Noise Phobias
During thunderstorms or fireworks you can try playing music (details about music below). Play the music so that it is not too loud, but possibly loud enough to compete with the sound to distract your dog’s attention from the sounds that are troublesome. 

You may also use a desensitization if you know what sounds disturb your dog.  You may use a recording of the frightening noise and play it back at a very low volume – low enough that your dog will not react anxiously to it.  It might take several days or several weeks until your dog will become more comfortable with the sound depending on how sensitive your dog is.  Don’t jump up to the next volume level until you notice that your dog is comfortable with the current sound setting.  You might need to go back a volume increment if you notice your dog becoming stressed out.  That indicates that you need to work slower.  Your dog will need to show no signs of nervousness until you increase the volume.  This might work up to a certain point, but your dog’s tolerance will build up.



A Little Background

Keeping your dog occupied with games (puzzle toys, hiding treats…).  Such activities help to refocus a dog.  Provide toys that keep dogs occupied.  Keeping the mind busy and challenged is great for dogs with separation anxiety. 


Interactive toys and toys that peanut butter or kibble toys (of course use dehydrated liver – NOT kibble) will keep your dog’s mind occupied. 

You can find some great interactive toys at the Active Dog Toys website.  Occasionally you can find interactive toys on my Flash Sales page.  I have many articles about the dangers of kibble.


Flower Essence & Herbal Remedies:

A Little Background
Flower essences are infusions made from the flowering part of the plant, which uniquely address emotional and mental aspects of wellness. In the 1920’s the first 38 flower remedies were formulated by a British physician, Dr. Edward Bach who discovered that certain flowers emit frequencies that effect specific symptoms.  Herbs include various parts of plants.  Herbs have been used successfully for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

SuggestionsAnxiety Blend

Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy is an alcohol-fee flower essence blend that may be administered orally or directly onto your dog.  are administered orally when a stressful situation is pending or occurring.  

Anxiety Blend is an alcohol-free herbal blend (with flowers) which is administered orally.  The formula is administered on a daily basis to tone the nervous system and the adrenal glands which enables the body to handle stressful situations with more stability.


Aromatherapy & Essential Oils
A Little Background

As you might know, fragrance affect us.  Essential oils therapeutically trigger emotions and moods as the brain interprets scent.  They sort of work similarly to how scent might trigger memories i.e., fresh baked cookies might remind you of when grandma used to bake.  Other fragrances might put you “in the mood.”  I don’t think examples are necessary for that one.  Aromatherapy uses the essential oils of flowers and herbs to travel from the scent receptors in order to communicate directly with the brain.  It is unlike the examples I provided in that specific oils derived from nature affect the brain and the nervous system to evoke specific emotional responses.

Things to know about essential oils & aromatherapy
Aromatherapy requires authentic essential oils.  Air fresheners do not work and they are often unsafe for dogs (particularly those with allergies, respiratory issues, and prone to seizures).  Air fresheners are synthetic and often contain chemicals that manufacturers are legally permitted to not inform consumers about.  You may read more in my article Dangers of Air Freshener Products.

essential Oils (2)It is very important to get high quality essential oils – usually you get what you pay for.  Just spray the mixture onto your dog’s body (avoiding the face) when a stressful situation is pending or occurring.  Be very careful to follow the instructions.  Essential oils are extremely potent.  Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and if it is too strong it could cause issues – particularly dogs prone to seizures.  They will be safe if you do NOT make the recipes stronger than suggested. 

Ways to use aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is used in a variety of ways.  Application methods include inhalation during an event.  This can be done by spraying a small amount of dilution onto an area that your dog likes to be (his bed, blanket, collar…) the, diffusing (using an essential oil diffuser) before, during, and after an event, or by spraying a dilution onto your dog’s body (avoiding the face) before, during, and after event.  NEVER apply an essential oil onto a dog or his collar without diluting first.

Do it yourself essential oil recipes:
The substances that are used to add essential oils to are called carriers.  Carriers are critical because they dilute the oils to make them safe to apply directly.  If you would like to create these blends for in a diffuser, the recipes don’t need to be diluted.  To diffuse, put undiluted essential oils into an aromatherapy diffuser that is specifically designed for use with essential oils.  Make sure the diffuser is on very low and keep it away from the dogs.  It is important to read the instructions for the diffuser to find out how much space it will cover.  Use it on a much lower setting than the manufacturer recommends for use for people  You cannot use a diffuser in small spaces.

Beware:  Essential oils are very potent.  Never apply them unless diluted directly onto your dog.  Do not apply to dog’s head, face, ears, and genitals. Essential oils are not to be ingested.  If you accidentally make the solution too strong, apply additional carrier oil to dilute it further and wipe off excess.  Many dilutions use alcohol which enables the oil to blend with the water.  I like the essential oil products here.  They are effective and contain gentler natural options.

You will need a carrier which will dilute the oil.  A single drop of a plant’s essential oil is more than 75 times stronger than the natural plant equivalent.  While essential oils can be beneficial for dogs, if not diluted, essential oils become dangerous for the use on dogs.  Carriers include sweet almond oil, sesame oil, jojoba, avocado oil, and aloe vera gel.  For each recipe choose one carrier.  Place ingredients into a small bottle (preferably glass).  You can apply a tiny amount by putting dipping a cotton swab once or twice into the mixture then close the bottle.  That one dip is enough.  You can apply it to the body from behind the neck and down the body.  You can also apply a tiny bit to the very tip of each ear on the outer portion where the hair is. 

If you would like to make a spray mist, instead of using a carrier oil, use 10 ounces of water per every 20 drops.  Put the mixture in a spray bottle.  With this mixture you can spray your dog’s bed, favorite blanket or directly onto your dog (avoid the face).

Keep in mind that when water is used as the carrier, will need to shake the mixture well before each application.  Spray a light mist over your dog during times when they need help settling.  If you would like, you can spray a little bit onto your hands and then massage pet your dog’s body to distribute the product.  You can put a tiny bit onto the tips of the ears on the where there is hair.  Avoid face and eyes.

Recipe 1 – General Anxiety
2 oz carrier (Sweet Almond Oil, Sesame Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, or Aloe Vera Gel)
5-10 drops Lavender essential oil
5-10 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil

You will need a small bottle to mix and store the when a carrier aside from water is used.

Recipe 2 – General Anxiety

2 ounces carrier (Sweet Almond Oil, Sesame Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, or Aloe Vera Gel) 
Choose 1 of the following essential oils.
16-20 drops of Neroli
12-16 drops of Petitgrain
8-12 Drops Lavender

You will need a small bottle to mix and store the when a carrier aside from water is used.

Recipe 3 – Separation Anxiety
This blend has pure essential oils without any dilution.  It is only meant to be used in a diffuser to calm your dog when you are gone.  Do NOT apply undiluted oils to your dog.
2 ounces carrier (Sweet Almond Oil, Sesame Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, or Aloe Vera Gel)
8-10 drops of Sweet Orange
4-6 drops of Lavender
4-6 drops of Ylang Ylang

You will need a small bottle to mix and store the when a carrier aside from water is used.


Chinese Herbal Treatment

A Little Background
One of the components of Chinese medicine is the use of far eastern herbs.  Chinese herbal therapy has been around for 5,000 years.  In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the focus is on the body as a whole.  The health of the organs and meridians directly affect health. Eastern herb therapy addresses the body as a whole.  To get a better understanding of TCM click here.  


Calm ShenCalm Shen uses Chinese herbs.  The word “shen” translates to “the spirit or the soul” and promotes calmness of the spirit and soul over time.  It comes in the powder form and large pills that can be easily broken apart.  One of my dogs, Harriet liked the pill form, but Bevi wouldn’t eat it.  I use the powder form and mix it into their raw diet.  It comes in tablets and in powder form.  Both are taken orally.



Music Therapy

A Little Background
Music affects us and our emotions.  While listening to loud dynamic music brings out strong energy – we might drive faster.  We would not play such music to calm a baby for nap time.  Films use music to evoke emotion.  Music therapy is also used for children – especially in special education.

For the past several years music’s effect on dogs have been studied. Primatologist Charles Snowdon, PhD and expert on animals and their responses to sound with cellist and composer David Teie collaborated to delve deeper into the research.  They fine tuned the past research to discover exactly what characteristics in music dogs react best to.  They discovered that not all classical music is the same. Some acoustic characteristics are more therapeutic for dogs making some compositions conducive to relaxing animals.  After all, many classical compositions are quite robust and might increase anxiety when a dog is anxious.


Pet Acoustics Dog

Using that research, there have been several CDs containing music for animals, but Pet Acoustics was developed to address the hearing specific to dogs (there is a cat version as well).  Researcher Janet Marlow, M.A. is a composer who created the Pet Acoustics device.

Different species have different hearing ranges and brain activity.  Pet Acoustics is a bluetooth speaker that contains a music compilation that contains music specifically geared toward the hearing and brain activity of dogs to induce calmness.  To read about how music affects dogs you may check out my article, Pet Tech – Music & Dogs.



A Little Background
Pet Alive PetCalm PicHomeopathy is the use of plants, minerals, and other biological substances in minuscule doses to stimulate natural healing defenses.  In the 1700’s homeopathy was developed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann from Germany.  He discovered that by inducing symptoms the body can learn how to react to a stimulus effectively and efficiently. 

Let’s say a person gets runny eyes during hay fever season.  Cutting onions imitates produces that same reaction. Tiny amounts of red onion teaches the body to deal with runny eyes. The homeopathic remedy is called allium cepa which contains an elements of red onions.  Homeopathic products must be stored away from electronics, spices, and away from direct sunlight.  Please read the labels.


Pet Calm is a safe homeopathic product that is given directly into the mouth 10 minutes prior to traumatic events.  They come in very tiny round granules and in spray form.  Homeopathic remedies are VERY sensitive.  They need to be stored away from spices, heat, cold, moisture, and sunlight.  Keep the bottle closed until needed.  It is not to be shaken and it is important to handle as little as possible.  Do not use on dogs who are pregnant or nursing.




A Little Background
Thundershirt-HealthypetsThe Thundershirt was founded by Phil Blizzard who took the idea of swaddling infants and brilliantly bridged the concept to the use on dogs. The Thundershirt and similar products hug a dog’s body which can be calming to some animals during stressful situations.


The Thundershirt is worn during stressful situations.  It can be used for separation anxiety, sound sensitivity, and other situations.  It applies gently pressure to the dog’s body.  It has gained great popularity over the years.



A Little Background
Dr. Patrick Pageat, a French veterinarian discovered a specific pheromone (apaisine) that causes newborns to form attachments to their mothers and to bond. This has an appeasing calming effect.  A synthetic form of the pheromone was created to use specifically for dogs (there is a cat version as well).  I like that it contains no artificial scent. What I don’t like is that its formula is proprietary allowing the manufacturer to keep the formula secret. They are legally permitted to conceal this information. 

Adaptil Products


I have used Adaptil for my dogs.  The manufacture states that the results depend upon the dog.  Results have been seen as soon as one week or as long as one month.  As with everything else, it depends on the dog.  The product comes in 4 forms – spray, collar, diffuser, and wipes.  I have the diffuser which plugs into an ordinary outlet.  I replace the refills every month.  The diffuser is NOT meant for use of essential oils – only for the product alone.  The product is also known as “Comfort Zone.”


Acupressure & Massage

A Little Background
Acupressure was developed in Asia over 5,000 years ago. Acupressure is similar acupuncture, but rather than using needles, fingers are used to stimulate pressure points that connect to various parts of the body. This stimulates the body’s natural ability to cure itself. Acupressure is used to treat many illnesses and relieves stress-related issues.  Massage is very relaxing for dogs.  It enhances the bond between you and your dog and releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone) for both you and your dog.  The Tellington Touch is another method using touch.  These techniques need to be done in a calm environment without distractions.  A dog cannot be jumping around.  He needs to be in one place sitting or lying down.  You must also be calm as dogs pick up your energy and you want to create a relaxing and secure environment.  I consulted with Ilona Abitbol who is a licensed acupuncturist (her degrees include: L.Ac, M.A.O.M, CTT) who practices acupuncture and acupressure which she uses to treat people.  She has extensive experience with using essential oils and herbs as well.  Ilona also has experience with applying her expertise to dogs.

There is a pressure point called the Yintang.  Applying gentle pressure there induces calm.  Imagine if your dog had eyebrows.  Between those eyebrows there is the Yintang.  You can also find it by feeling the top of the eye sockets (right where the skull begins).  The Yintang point is between the eye sockets.  You might be able to feel a slight pulsation there.  If you don’t feel it, it’s ok.  Press your finder there for 20 – 30 seconds.  Just apply a tiny bit of pressure so your dog will feel your finger and so you can feel the pulsation (if you are able to find it).  Again, if you don’t feel the pulsation, don’t worry.

The edges of the ears are another point.  There are lots of nerve endings on the flaps of the ears.  The thumb and index finger massage in tiny circular motions from the tips of the ears down to the base.  Also massage the area by the base of the skull and behind the ears.

Linda Tellington Jones created the TTouch (Tellington Touch) method which works well for dogs (and other animals).  Like acupressure, the TTouch works through touch.  It uses particular massaging techniques that stimulate pressure points to treat emotional and physical issues.  Below you will find two demonstration videos.


If you know your dog’s stomach gets affected when he’s stressed, you might want to have some 100 percent organic canned pumpkin (not pie filling) on hand for loose stool or diarrhea. W. Jean Dodds DVM suggests in her blog to work up to one tablespoon per day for smaller dogs and two tablespoons per day for larger dogs. You’ll want to build up to the full dose over time so as not to upset your dog’s stomach. So if Halloween is the first time you’re trying the pumpkin, don’t go with the full dose right off the bat.



A Little Background
Dogs can be comforted by things in the environment that many of us don’t even think of.

Placing an article of clothing with your scent on it spread across your dog’s favorite place.  A t-shirt that you worked out in or pajamas are perfect.  It should NOT be washed and should not have perfume or any other artificial scent.  The point is to comfort your dog by having a loved one’s scent that provides some security.  Dogs have very sensitive noses.  They gather information from the environment through scent and they associate your natural body scent with you.

Special Areas
Some people are under the impression that a crate is a bad thing.  Crating is are NOT supposed to be used for punishment.  On the contrary, a crate can serve as a safe home.  First of all, the crate must be the right size.  The dog should be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably.  You may or may not close the door.  If your dog becomes destructive while you are away you may close the door.  While someone is at home the door may be open.  The crate is a happy place.  It is best to cover the top and all sides except for the door.  Now your crate has turned into a little cave.  Next you need to make it cozy.  You can place a worn article of your clothing in there, some pillows, toys, and a blanket.  It is now a comfy cave.  You can even throw in a few pieces of dehydrated liver to make it a REALLY happy place before you leave.  This is great for separation anxiety.

You can also purchase a little “cave.”  It is more popular for cats so if you have a small dog it is perfect as a little hang out cave.  My dogs LOVE theirs.

A.  Clubhouse
B.  Crate with cover, mat, and bumpers
C.  Pet Tent


A Comforting Pal

Snuggle Puppies


I don’t know about this product, but it sounded interesting to me so I wanted to share with you.  The SnugglePuppies are toys that have a part that goes inside the stuffed animal that sounds like a soothing heartbeat.  It also has a warm pack that is put inside so your dog can feel the warmth of his pal.



Another product, PetZu is a similar concept and has similar features.  PetZu is shaped like a pillow which is made with comfy sherpa material.  It provides a calming heartbeat and warmth.




Products derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. Nutraceuticals are used to address health issues including disease in addition to prevention of illness.

Nutricalm contains a blend of nutrients including theanine, l-tryptophan and valerian root.

Harmonease contains ingredients like magnolia extract and phellodendronin to induce calming.

Zylkene contains casein (a milk protein) extract that is calming for dogs.  My amazing vet (Dr. Jenna Lenarz from Dr. Marty’s practice) recommended it for my girls.

For all products read descriptions and details to make sure that your dog can safely take them and to check to be suitable for your purposes.


For all products read descriptions and details to make sure that your dog can safely take them and to check to be suitable for your purposes and for safety.

There are so many products out there.  My specific articles will cover more natural products.  I will add links as I publish new articles that relate, but please join my mailing list in the top right corner so you will know when future articles are published.



Abitbol, Ilona. “Acupressure.” Personal interview. 28 Jan. 2016. Licensed acupuncture and herbal medicine clinician in NY.

Dr. Jones’ Natural Animal Care Course. Web. 20 Jan. 2016. Lecture: Noise Anxiety. Section  5.

Feinman, Jeffrey. “Anxiety, Stress, Pet Boarding & Pet Sitting, Homeopathic Calming Remedies.” Ask the Vet. Dogs Naturally Magazine, 2014. <>.

Henriques, Julia. “Three Essential Oil Recipes for Fearful Dogs.” Dogs Naturally Magazine. Dogs Naturally Magazine, 2014. <>.

La, Kacie. “4 DIY Essential Oil Recipes For Your Dog.” Dogs Naturally Magazine. Dogs Naturally Magazine, 24 July 2015. Web. 24 July 2015. <>.

McConnell, Patricia B. “TheOtherEndoftheLeash.” TheOtherEndoftheLeash. Patricia McConnell, 04 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 Jan. 2016. <>.


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