Vets recommend calming treats to help a dog with anxiety.
The best calming treats for dogs are from Zesty Paws.
The ingredients in the best calming treats for dogs help bring balance and calmness and sometimes act as a mild sedative.
How do you treat your dog for anxiety? Give them a treat. Specifically, give them the best calming treats for dogs. There's limited research in this category, but it's hard to argue with the results that dog owners see.
There are all kinds of treats with different ingredients. The good news is that if one doesn't work for your dog, another likely will. Learn the signs of anxiety in your dog, try to determine the cause, and then choose the calming treat that's right for your dog's particular situation.
Do Calming Treats Work?
The short answer is yes. The complicated part is finding the right ones for your dog. Many companies produce an array of treats in various forms. Most are soft chews, but they're each made with different ingredients.
Just because lavender calms one dog doesn't mean your dog likes it. That said, most dogs respond well to commonly known calming ingredients.
Katelyn Son is a holistic pet expert and content manager for Veterinarians. Son explains that "calming treats for dogs work by interacting with the brain and changing the brain chemistry in a way that promotes calmness and relaxation."
Not only do they work, but Son says that they're safe, and most vets recommend them.
The treats work in a dog's brain in various ways, depending on the ingredients in the treats. Some contain CBD oil that interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, bringing balance. Amino acids like L-theanine and L-tryptophan lessen aggression. A natural ingredient like passionflower increases gamma-aminobutyric levels and relieves anxiety. Valerian root is a mild sedative, and melatonin is a sleep hormone.
Knowing the source of your dog's particular symptoms is helpful if you want to choose the appropriate calming treats. Even if you're unsure of what causes your dog's anxiety, many ingredients common in calming treats work to soothe and calm them.
The Best Calming Treats for Dogs
As with all "best of" lists, there isn't an overall consensus among reviewers. Certain treats and companies do appear more often than others. This usually comes from multiple positive reviews from customers who experience effective results.
This brand keeps coming up in different lists, but not always at number one, and sometimes with different products. On Amazon, Zesty Paws Calming Bites are number two in Dog Relaxants, and their Calming Squares are at number 45.
They contain hemp seed, L-theanine, and chamomile, which all promote a sense of relaxation. These are good for dogs with noise aversion and nighttime anxiety.
Veterinarians list the Calming Bites as one of the best and say that it's good for dogs of all ages. The only negative aspect they mention is that some dogs don't like the peanut butter flavor. Union Lake Veterinary Hospital recommends this one as well.
The Retrievist of the American Kennel Club names the Calming Bites as the overall best dog-calming treats. Their reviewers say the advanced ingredients "help support relaxation, calmness, focus, and clarity in dogs." They also list Zesty Paws OraStix as a favorite. They point out that it is a helpful distraction and contains calming ingredients.
Discover magazine names the Zesty Paws OraStix as number 16 in their list of the 25 best dog calming treats in 2023. The calming ingredients are the same as the chews, but the OraStix protects your pup's teeth and gums. So, these are especially helpful if you have a dog or puppy that is a chewer.
Photo source: Amazon.com
The number one product in the category of Dog Relaxants on Amazon is NaturVet Hemp Quiet Moments. The company also makes one with melatonin.
NaturVet didn't make Discover's list or the Retrievist's. Quiet Moments Plus Melatonin is one that Veterinarians list, and Union Lake Veterinary Hospital recommends it. These treats are for dogs over 12 weeks of age.
Photo source: Amazon.com
Another dog-calming treat containing hemp is Pet Honesty Hemp Calming. This takes the number three spot on Amazon's dog relaxants. The Retrievist calls it the "Most Durable" and recommends it for large dogs. The dosage is lower and it costs a little less than others on the market.
This is on the list of Veterinarians, and it's number 10 on Discover's list. Besides hemp seed, it contains valerian root and chamomile.
Photo source: Amazon.com
Honest Paws Calm CBD Soft Chews aren't on Amazon because their policy restricts third-party vendors from selling any CBD products. The law restricts veterinarians from prescribing it, but some may recommend it.
This one is number two on Discover's best calming treats. Veterinarians name it as best overall and say out of 500 reviews, they found no overtly critical ones. When writing this article in April 2023, the Honest Paws website offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you're unsatisfied with the product.
As you read earlier, CBD works to bring balance to your dog. If you have an extremely hyper dog, this one works best for that issue. Besides CBD, these chews also contain L-theanine and L-tryptophan. They claim the treats settle your pup's nerves in at least one hour.
CalmingDog's Calming Zen Chews are less expensive than many of the other top brands. They're peanut butter flavored and still include some of the same calming ingredients as other treats. Chamomile, L-theanine and L-tryptophan are natural ingredients that promote calmness. At the time of writing this article, a 60-count bag is $14.99.
Note: Rankings and prices are current as of April 2023.
Try Calming Treats Before Medication
The natural ingredients in all of these treats take time to have an effect. Most companies say to give the treat to your dog about 15 minutes before an event. Many take 30 minutes to an hour to have the desired effect.
If your dog has extreme anxiety or an attack comes on suddenly, treats are likely to have little to no effect. In these cases, your vet may need to prescribe anti-anxiety medication. If at all possible, it's best to use this as a last resort.
The AKC's Retrievist points out that "because most drugs are metabolized through the liver and kidneys, the function of these organs must be assessed. Some medications can have cardiac side effects, and even the widely popular fluoxetine (Prozac) can cause gastrointestinal problems and increased restlessness in certain animals."
If your dog is on anti-anxiety medication, talk to your vet before giving your dog a calming treat or any other type of supplement. You want to avoid any adverse reactions.
Look for signs that your dog is experiencing nervousness or restlessness. Doing this may prevent a full-on anxiety attack.
Signs of Anxiety
Your dog tells you that they're nervous through their actions. They may whine, bark, pace, drool, or pant excessively, try to escape while you're gone, destroy objects and furniture, act over-aggressively or hyper, and have accidents in the home.
When they show any combination of these symptoms, they're likely feeling anxious. Take notice of when these behaviors occur. If they show anxiety before you leave, they likely have separation anxiety. Treats work well for this type of symptom.
When you leave your home, give them a calming treat about 15 minutes before you go. The ingredients in the treat begin to take effect by the time you leave. Take other measures besides the treat to solidify that sense of calmness.
Get them settled in their calming dog bed and give them a food toy or puzzle to keep them occupied. By the time they realize you're gone, the treat's calming properties are in full effect, and they're nestled snugly in their bed.
When your dog's anxiety appears during thunderstorms or fireworks displays, they have a noise aversion. Be aware of the forecast and remember to treat your dog before sundown on the fourth of July or New Year's Eve.
Another common time for anxiety is at night. Whether because of separation or certain sounds, your dog has trouble falling asleep. A treat containing melatonin helps with this issue.
Treat Your Dog to Calmness
No matter what the cause of your dog's anxiety is, the best calming treat for dogs helps to quell that nervousness. If possible, prepare to head off their anxiety before it even begins. Learn to recognize the signs and use other measures in addition to a calming treat.
No matter what calming treats you choose, look at the ingredients. Always be aware of what you're giving your dog, and check with your vet to ensure your dog doesn't experience a bad reaction to the contents.
Whatever you do, don't punish your dog for displaying behaviors related to anxiety. They can't help being anxious and it doesn't feel good. Work with your dog to help them overcome their fears, and you end up with a happy, healthy, calm, and collected canine.
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