Some of the best calming sprays for dogs use pheromones that mimic a nursing mother.
The overall best calming spray for dogs is Adaptil.
You can make your own calming spray for dogs.
When it comes to relieving anxiety, there are all kinds of products on the market, including vests, collars, beds, blankets, and toys. In this article, you get to learn about sprays. You want the best calming spray for dogs to relieve your dog's anxiety.
Use a calming spray in any space where your dog might become anxious or nervous. If you're holding them on your lap, you may even use the spray on yourself!
Dogs receive messages through scent. You want to send them messages of calmness and peace. Do this with a calming dog spray. Read on to find out how.
Does Calming Spray for Dogs Work?
There isn't a lot of research or scientific "proof" that calming sprays are effective. Recommendations are mainly from anecdotal evidence provided by personal experience and observations. Dog owners' testimonials are hard to deny.
Many veterinarians recommend calming sprays. Small Door Veterinary has locations in New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. Their medical experts say that for dogs, "pheromone products can quell mild general anxiety and stress, as well as help to reduce stress due to scary events like storms and fireworks. They imitate dog appeasing pheromones (DAP), which are released by lactating dogs after their puppies are born and before they are weaned."
Pheromones -- even synthetic ones -- are species-specific, so you must buy ones specially designed for your particular animal.
The other kind of spray contains natural ingredients and essential oils. These natural components have calming effects on humans and animals alike. Chamomile and lavender are ingredients known for their ability to promote better sleep and relaxation.
How To Use Calming Spray
Several companies that make calming sprays also make various other products containing the same ingredients. A diffuser, for instance, does the same thing as a spray by putting the scent into the air. A spray is more versatile because you use it on your dog's bedding, inside their crate, and sometimes on the dog themselves.
Before spraying directly on your dog, READ THE DIRECTIONS. Some products advise not to spray the product directly on your dog. Avoid spraying directly into your dog's face or open wounds with any product. If your dog has sensitive skin or skin-related allergic reactions, don't use it on them.
If possible, use the spray before an event that might cause anxiety. If your dog is already in a significantly heightened state of anxiety, a calming spray may have little to no effect.
If your dog has anxiety at night, spray your dog's bedding 15 minutes before bedtime. If you're going on a trip and using a carrier or crate, spray the inside of the crate or your car and allow it to soak in before packing up your dog. Some sprays contain alcohol that puts off a particular odor, so give it a chance to settle.
A calming collar might work better if you and your dog are walking or on the go without the crate. This way, they wear the scent and carry it with them.
The Best Calming Spray for Dogs
Every reviewer has their own opinion on the "best," but certain products come up more often than others. Part of the reason is that every dog is unique. What works for one dog may not necessarily work for another.
On Amazon, the best-ranked spray in "Dog Relaxants" is Adaptil. The Retrievist of the American Kennel Club lists Adaptil as one of their favorites and Small Door Veterinary also recommends this one. Adaptil uses a formula that mimics a mother dog's natural nursing pheromone.
The company says each application lasts four to five hours. They suggest spraying on objects but not directly on your dog. They also instruct you to spray it about 15 minutes before introducing your dog to the area. A 60-milliliter bottle is $24.99.*
Photo source: Amazon.com
ThunderEssence and ThunderEase
The Retrievist lists ThunderEssence as the best calming spray for dogs overall. It contains essential oils from lavender, chamomile, and Egyptian geranium. This spray is from the same company (ThunderWorks) that makes ThunderShirt. A four-ounce bottle is $14.99.*
ThunderWorks also has a spray called ThunderEase that uses the Adaptil pheromone formula. Travel and Leisure chose this spray as the best calming spray in their list of "The 10 Best Calming Travel Products for Dogs of 2023, According to Veterinarians." Again, with this one, you need to respray every four to five hours. A 60-milliliter bottle is $28.99,* making this the most expensive on the list.
Photo source: Amazon.com
The Retrievist lists Burt's Bees Calming Hemp Spray as "Best Budget." This one contains a blend of hemp seed oil and lavender. Hemp seed oil is an ingredient in many ingestible calming treats as well. Their ingredients are of 99.7 percent natural origin and made in the U.S.A.
The company recommends spraying your dog from the back of their ears to their tail and letting it dry. Reviewers say that some dog owners observe that their dogs are noticeably calmer, while others report little difference. A 10-ounce bottle is only $10.99*, which is less than any of the previous sprays described.
Photo source: Amazon.com
*Note: product prices are from Amazon and are accurate at the time of writing this article in April 2023, but are subject to change.
Puppies recently weaned from their mothers or separated from their littermates may experience separation anxiety. For these young ones, you may be better off choosing one of the sprays that use the formula that mimics a mother dog's pheromones.
That's not to say that adult dogs don't benefit from this type, but a puppy used to their mother's scent is more recently familiar with these pheromones. This feeling of familiarity in a new environment calms them.
Homemade Calming Spray
If you're concerned about particular ingredients companies use in their calming sprays, you may prefer to make your own. Remember that these companies spend a great deal of money on research to find the ideal combination of effective ingredients.
What you need:
A spray bottle that holds at least four to six ounces
Before choosing the oils, review the recipe with your vet to see if they have any concerns.
Some commonly known calming ingredients include lavender, chamomile, orange, lemongrass, frankincense, eucalyptus, and hemp seed oil. It's best to choose only two or three of these oils. Any more may be overpowering or make an unpleasant combination. Lavender and chamomile are two ingredients found most often in dog-calming sprays.
Most homemade recipes use about four to six ounces of water and up to about 14 drops of essential oils. Using distilled water eliminates the minerals often found in hard water and chlorination or other chemicals in tap water.
It's a good idea to use a little less oil to start with to see if your dog is okay with it. Add more if it isn't enough. This process takes some trial and error. Your dog may respond positively to certain scents more than others.
How To Instantly Calm Your Dog Down
There's no "quick fix" for relieving your dog's anxiety. These products are effective for most dogs. However, as stated earlier, what works for one dog may not have the same level of effectiveness for another.
If your dog has extreme anxiety, they may need a prescribed medication from your veterinarian. These calming sprays don't have the strength of anti-anxiety medications.
The best way to handle anxiety is to take preemptive measures. When you know your dog's triggers, take steps to head off their anxiety with calming sprays, but use other methods along with it.
If your dog has anxiety at night, give them a calming dog bed and spray it with a calming mist 15 minutes before bedtime. Give them a calming treat and play soothing music too. As time goes on, taper off these methods.
The intention is for these approaches to be temporary or for unique situations because you want your dog to develop independence. As your dog becomes more comfortable in their environment, they don't need the extra support. They're able to handle the situation on their own.
Spray Away the Anxiety
The best calming spray for dogs is potentially a great solution for your dog's anxiety. Don't get trigger-happy right off the bat. Test it at home in a small area to see how your dog reacts. Again, you must follow the product's directions for use, especially when spraying directly on your dog.
The only way to know for sure if it works is through observation. Take notice of how your dog acts before and after you use the spray. If it works without any adverse reactions (skin irritations, excessive sneezing, etc.), use it in other places too.
When your dog is calmer, their anxiety dissipates like the spray itself. Replace their anxiety with the pleasant fragrance of peace.
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