Giving your pups treats is one of the best things about being a dog parent. Dogs will do practically anything for a yummy reward—and watching them scarf down their tasty snack is always entertaining. But besides a reward, calming treats for dogs can help your canine companion stay healthy, especially if your pup struggles with anxiety, which is extremely common.
“Anxiety is very prevalent amongst domesticated dogs. Some studies suggest up to 70 percent of dogs have some degree of anxiety,” says Dr. Maranda Elswick, veterinarian and owner of The Meowing Vet. “Signs of anxiety include increased heart rate, panting, hypervigilance, lack of responsiveness to owner commands, and restlessness.”
A quick and easy way to help ease your dog’s anxiety can be by feeding them a tasty calming treat or chew.
“Natural supplements that have calming properties can help with anxiety over time, along with behavioral training and reinforcements,” says Dr. Lily Chen, a holistic veterinarian. “Treats and chews are easy to give and can be implemented long-term in a safe and effective way to help dogs with anxiety ease their symptoms more naturally.”
Calming Treats for Dogs: Ingredients Matter
But when it comes to choosing the best calming treats for dogs, you should pay close attention to the label.
Here are 7 ingredients that you should look for that have been proven to help calm dogs.
“Melatonin is a natural occurring neurohormone in the body that helps in regulation of circadian rhythms,” says Dr. Chen. “It has a natural ability to induce sleep and calm. It can also have some sedative effects.”
“Chamomile is a gentle herb that acts to relax smooth muscles in the body,” says Dr. Chen. “It can help calm digestive upset, as well as calming the mind with the effect most likely related to lowering blood pressure.”
It’s also used as aromatherapy.
“It is used as aromatherapy to help calm muscles and brain waves, thus reducing feelings of anxiety,” says Dr. Elswick.
Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil
“Hemp oil is derived from the flowers and leaves of the hemp plant (a.k.a. Cannabis sativa plant),” says Dr. Elswick. “The cannabis plant contains cannabinoids: tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) and cannabidiols (including CBD) that have medical potential to help reduce anxiety and pain in both humans and pets and are regarded as being overall safe.”
This ingredient is a green-tea derivative, says Dr. Elswick, that issues a calming effect.
“L-Theanine is an amino acid that binds to specific receptors in the brain area to aid in release of hormones and compounds that promote calm,” says Dr. Chen.
Lavender (for scent)
“Lavender has aromatherapy benefits similar to those of chamomile: to help calm the brain and body,” says Dr. Elswick. “Smelling lavender can lead to a feeling of tranquility and rest and can also help lower heart rate and induce sleep.”
“Like L-theanine, passionflower acts at GABA receptors in the brain to help inhibit neuron excitability—important in helping to manage anxiety since nervous system excitability goes hand-in-hand with anxiety,” says Dr. Elswick.
St. John’s Wort
“This herb contains antidepressant properties that can help stabilize serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for managing mood and feelings of happiness,” says Dr. Elswick.