Our dogs can suffer from anxiety and stress just like we do. Understanding when they're feeling like this, and knowing what to do to reduce their stress is essential for a happy pup. So today we're exploring some of the signs of a stressed dog, and 5 dog calming products to help ease their anxiety.
Signs of a stressed dog
It can be hard to identify whether your dog is stressed, after all, it's sometimes tricky to know when you're stressed out yourself. Luckily there are a few tell tale signs that could indicate you have a worried pup on your hands. Let's have a look at them now...
Ear and facial changes.
These include pushing their ears back, darting their eyes about, blinking excessively, or showing more of the whites of their eyes. This looks a bit like what you'd imagine a typical 'puppy eyes' to look like, where you can see the whites below or around their pupils.
Along with facial changes, your dog may also show their stress through changes in their posture. Including things like tucking in their tails, lifting up one of their front paws, or tensing up. When our dog is super relaxed she's happy for us to hold her on the back, so we know when she's stressed if she doesn't let us do this.
Excessive Yawning, licking, or salivating.
Obviously dogs yawn all the time, whether they're sleepy or a bit bored, however, if you notice a particularly intense or long yawn it could be a sign they're stressed. Along with this you might also notice excessive saliva (compared to normal if you have a Lab) or licking (of themselves or you).
Dogs pant when they're hot, have just been doing zoomies, or are excited. As a sign of stress, you want to look out for abnormal patterns of panting, or if they're panting more than usual. Alongside showing some of these other signs.
Cowering or hiding.
Some doggies are more submissive or shy than others, and might often hide. However, if you notice a change in your pup's confidence, e.g beginning to hide behind your legs or burrowing into your lap, it could be a sign something's up.
Now we know some of the indicators of a stressed dog, let's look at some of the innovative new solutions out there...
1. Dog Calming Beds
Whilst not a new creation, dog calming beds have become particularly popular recently, especially on the old Instagram. How they work to reduce your dog's stress is by imitating the feeling of being snuggled by their furry dog mum and siblings. They normally have high raised sides, a soft feel, and are great at keeping warmth in. Some also come in a doughnut shape for smaller breeds. The design helps give your pup a sense of reassurance and comfort, so are well suited for dogs with separation anxiety. According to the Anxious Pet they do work, but have the most benefit when used alongside other calming training techniques. Check out our other blog with training tips on how to calm a dog down.
Like with any product there are a vast array out there, some far better (and more practical) than others. Look out for one that is the right size for your pooch, has a non-slip base, and can easily be washed. Like this one below from Plushie Pet Beds.
2. Calming Dog Food & Treats
Next up you could also explore dog calming treats and food. Calming dog food and treats can be both prescribed and unprescribed. However, how they both tend to work is by affecting your pup's serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical found in both humans and doggies with a complex role affecting mood, sleep, and even digestion. Prescribed calming dog food can contain ingredients such as hydrolysed caseine (from cows milk), which affects how your dog produces serotonin.
Have you tried our Dog Calming Nibbles yet? We've designed these with turkey, which is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your pup's body make Vitamin B3 and yep you guessed it, serotonin. Along with soothing Chamomile and Lemon Balm. We chose Lemon Balm as it helps to promote calmness by re-balancing the neurotransmitter GABA, which in turn reduces anxiety and encourages calm behavior [insert nerdy emoji]. They're also proudly British and served in compostable packaging to be kind on the planet too. Suitable for all breeds from a Lab to a Border Terrier.
3. Distraction toys
Playing with toys is a great tool for dogs suffering from separation anxiety, as you can leave them out whilst you're away from them. There are a vast array of different options from the widely known Kong, which you can stuff with dog treats or our grain free wet dog food. In the summer time you can also try freezing them with the wet food inside for a great cooling treat. Check out our other tips on keeping dogs cool. Another option are snuffle mats, which have lots of different ruffles of fabric that you can hide little treats within. Or if you also want to keep an eye on your pup's mischief whilst you're out, there are a number of live streaming cameras. The Furbo even lets you shoot out treats or our Chicken Dry Food kibble fits perfectly too.
Check out how they work here..
4. Calming Dog Tablets
Calming dog tablets work in much the same way as calming treats or food. Typically containing ingredients like lemon balm, chamomile, and others that help regulate levels of GABA and serotonin. These supplements may be fed every day, or if you know your pup's stress is induced by particular events like fireworks, just during those specific times. Check out our tips on reducing your dog's anxiety from fireworks.
5. Dog Calming Sprays
The final products are dog calming sprays. Calming sprays were first invented for cats to curb sent marking or aggression issues, however, pet parents soon realised they worked well for overly playful or stressed out dogs too. You typically apply them to your pup's surroundings e.g their bedding, toys, or in the car, or very lightly rubbed around their muzzle and chest. Never spray directly onto your fur friend. They work by either helping to level out GABA OR serotonin levels, or also by containing natural pheromones, reminiscent of their mum.
Similar to sprays you can also find calming diffusers, collars or wipes, which do much of the same thing.
A final note...
None of these products will be the one-stop solution, but used in combination with behavioural training, plenty of patience and cuddles, should help your dog overcome their worries. These products also do not address the underlying condition of your dog's stress. So to cure stress for good you'll need to address the causes rather than just the symptoms.
If you have any questions about our Calming Dog Treats, don't hesitate in dropping us an email; email@example.com