Before we discuss how adaptogens can be used to reduce your dog’s anxiety it is important to understand the causes of their anxiety.
Dogs experience anxiety just like we do. While unpleasant, it is a normal and healthy emotion. Dog anxiety can affect all breeds but may affect each individual dog differently. Although it is something that all dogs experience from time-to-time for differing reasons, if disproportionate levels of anxiety are left unchecked, a dog can develop an anxiety disorder. If left untreated, dog anxiety can lead to behavioural and other issues.
Fortunately there are a number of ways that you can treat your dog’s anxiety in a natural and holistic way.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dog anxiety can have a variety of causes. Some of the most common causes of dog anxiety are:
Fear-related anxiety can be caused by loud noises, strange people or animals, visual stimuli like hats or umbrellas, new or strange environments, specific situations — like the vet’s office or car rides — or surfaces like grass or wood floors. Although some dogs may only have brief reactions to these kinds of stimuli, they may affect anxious dogs more consequentially.
Separation anxiety is estimated to affect around 14 percent of dogs. Dogs with separation anxiety are unable to find comfort when they are left alone or separated from their family members. This anxiety often manifests itself in undesirable behaviours, such as urinating and defecating in the house, destroying furniture and furnishings, and barking.
Age-related anxiety affects older dogs and can be associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). In dogs with CDS, memory, learning, perception, and awareness start to decline, similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in humans. This understandably leads to confusion and anxiety in senior dogs.
Dog Anxiety: Symptoms
So how can you tell if your dog has anxiety? There are several important symptoms to look out for:
- Urinating or defecating in the house
- Destructive behaviour
- Excessive barking
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviours
There are numerous ways that you can treat your dog’s anxiety – exercise, mental stimulation, massage and acupuncture and situation avoidance.
However nutrition plays a key role as the foundation of both your dog’s physical and mental health and wellbeing so the focus of this article is how you can use nutrition, and particularly adaptogens, to treat your dog’s anxiety effectively.
Nutrition – Calming Anxiety
Nutrition plays a vital role in your dog’s health and wellbeing.
Human research shows that when comparing a vegetarian diet versus omnivorous diet, vegetarians reported more positive moods than meat eaters, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal. (1)
The reason? The brain uses the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter largely responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being. Plant-based sources of tryptophan include leafy greens, sunflower seeds, watercress, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, broccoli, peas and other legumes.
A diet high in protein and animal foods can limit serotonin production. A healthy approach for ideal levels of tryptophan in the brain is to focus on plant proteins along with generous amounts of complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. With this pattern in place, there is sufficient serotonin produced to maintain feelings of calm and well-being.
Bonza plant-based food contains a number of tryptophan containing ingredients, as well as a blend of super herbs, botanicals and adaptogens, specifically added to help minimise your dog’s anxiety and stress.
In the relatively new field of nutritional psychiatry, inflammation is considered one of the most important factors contributing to a host of anxiety related disorders. Focus is now being placed on nutritional interventions to limit and modify anxiety.
As in many other chronic health states it has been shown that inflammation plays a significant role in anxiety (2). An anti-inflammatory diet can help to support a reduction in physiological causes of your dog’s anxiety helping to restore calm to their lives.
Our ‘Calming’ blend includes botanicals including turmeric, ginger and chamomile and adaptogens including ashwagandha, siberian ginseng and reishi mushroom – These herbs work synergistically and may help relieve your dog’s stress and anxiety levels.
These super herbs together with the Omega 3’s (including EPA and DHA,) tryptophan rich plant-based ingredients – oats, peas, chickpeas and seaweed, and the best of complex carbohydrates including wholegrains – oats and quinoa, legumes – peas, fava beans, and chickpeas, vegetables – sweet potato, carrots and potato in Bonza gives you the best chance of reducing your dog’s anxiety and improving their overall mood and sense of wellbeing.