Anxiety and stress in our pets is unfortunately quite common. Some dogs or cats may become fearful of certain people or objects, other animals, unfamiliar places, being left alone or separated from a human caretaker, the dark, cars, fireworks, thunder, etc. Even with our reassurance, they cannot get past their fear which can lead to very uncomfortable and dangerous situations.
How it affects pets:
In extreme situations, anxiety can lead to long-term stress, which may result in diarrhea and vomiting, compulsive self-licking or destructive chewing and other behavioral problems. Some behavioral signs of anxiety and stress are; yawning excessively, tail chasing, pacing, running back and forth along fence line, panting or drooling in excess, howling or barking excessively, excessive hair loss, pooping in “obvious” places, etc. In extreme cases, such as a fear of thunder or fireworks, for example, this may cause a dog to run from home, a life-threatening situation.
Stress and anxiety can be caused by past trauma or a “bad” experience that’s stuck with them. Other times, it may be linked to a lack of appropriate and adequate socialization during the formative early months. In some cases, there appears to be no logical reason for the anxiety a pet is exhibiting and may simply be due to a pet’s individual genetic makeup and character. Some seem to have a more “nervous” disposition as do some humans.
What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?
Traditional Chinese Medical practitioners recommend adding cooked barley and oats to the diet to help calm an anxious pet. These grains nourish the kidney and heart, imbalanced of which are believe to be the underlying cause of many fears.
B-complex, B-12, and Folic acid are especially helpful for the nervous system. Phenylalanine, an amino acid, is also useful for anxiety, promoting a state of natural relaxation and having a positive effect on mood and behavior. L-phenylalanine is found such foods as beef, poultry, pork, fish, milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, soy products, and certain nuts and seeds.
Turkey, containing tryptophan, has a calming effect on both animals and humans. Beef, is considered a neutral meat source, it is good for thin animals lacking in confidence. Avoid lamb, mutton, rabbit, as this may increase insecurity in some animals due to the food animal’s basic nature of fearfulness.
Other modalities to consider:
- Flower Essences work on the emotional, mental, and energetic states of animals, helping to provide balance. Consider: Honeysuckle, Gorse, Rock Rose, Mimulus, larch, Walnut, and Chestnut Bud.
- Homeopathy also works on the energetic level, helping the physical body to heal, too. Consider: Arsenicum album, Aconite, and Gelsemium.
- Herbs such as Chamomile, Oatstraw, Passionflower, Oatstraw, Valerian, Skullcap, and St. John’s Wort can all be of help.
- Desensitization and training with a professional behaviorist is invaluable, especially in cases where your dog has developed anxiety or fear about something specific.
- The Honest Kitchen offers an herbal tea, Quiet Tea, which promotes calmness and can help to alleviate anxiety in dogs and cats.
To find holistic help with your pet's digestive problems, see our list of integrative veterinarians and holistic practitioners.
Diets that meet some of the parameters vets suggest:
- Love (grain-free, beef)
- Embark (grain-free, turkey)
- Keen (organic oats, keen)
- Zeal (grain-free, fish)
- Verve (organic oats & rye, beef)
- Preference (grain-free foundation mix)
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