Keeping Dogs and Cats Calm Naturally
Whether it’s the Fourth of July or any other holiday that people feel like they need to set off fireworks, our dogs and cats wind up stressed as a result.
It doesn’t need to be that way – but if you want to avoid the dreaded fear responses that go along with fireworks, you need to prepare early with natural calmants for pets.
We’ve all been there – dreading the inevitable whining, panting, and usually destructive behavior. Many folks turn to Acepromazine or Valium to keep pets calm. Sadly, not only do animals tend not to respond to this type of approach, it can often make the fear even worse.
Natural calmants are not only effective, they are very gentle and can help relax your pets.
These are a few of the most effective natural calmants that we’ve found for dogs and cats. We have personally tested each of them and are listing them in order of preference.
I am putting pheromones first because they are perfect for “everyday” management of a multi-species home. I don’t pheromones for specific events, I use them all year long. They work by excreting a synthetic copy of a dog or cat’s facial pheromone (which is a way that animals track one another). This is then diffused to help reassure other cats or dogs in the home.
Feliway® now has a product called Feliway Multi-Cat home.
It’s perfect if you have more than one cat and works to reduce tension and conflict between cats by creating a calming environment and increased socialization. We’ll have more on this amazing product (we’ve been using it about a month now and have already seen a marked decrease in bullying and overall “spats”!).
You can purchase Comfort Zone Feliway Diffuser for cats or Comfort Zone Dog Appeasing Pheromone Spray for Behavior Control, 2.03 oz. for dogs.
LICKS ZEN Remedies for Dogs and Cats
ZEN for dogs and cats, from Licks Pill Free, is our new number one favorite calmant for our pets. It’s easy to give to dogs or cats (simply place the contents of one packet on your dog or cat’s paw about an hour before fireworks start up). You’ll have relaxed pets for the next 6-8 hours. Made in the USA, LICKS uses an all-natural combination of organic ingredients that naturally promote calm zen-like activity with your pets.
So what are the ingredients of this amazing product? You can read about their products in depth here: A Look at LICKS Pill-Free Supplements, but let’s take a quick look at each of the active ingredients for the dog and cat calming formulas:
- Ashwagandha Root: Balances the adrenal glands and lowers cortisol levels to promote mood stabilization while reducing anxiety
- Eleuthero Root: an adaptogenic herb that enhances the body’s ability to cope with stress, and also enhances the effectiveness of Ashwagandha root.
- L-Theanine: naturally lowers blood pressure and boosts cognitive function without causing drowsiness
- Tryptophan: This is an amino acid that helps improve serotonin levels in dogs and cats, while reducing aggression, hyperactivity, and restless sleep. (Oh, and it’s also the stuff that makes us so tired after turkey dinners).
- This is simply an enhanced version of the cat formula listed above, but they also add organic Chamomile to the dogs recipe. Chamomile possesses anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties that help alleviate stress and insomnia. Dogs react particularly well to chamomile!
Flower Water Remedies
Another of our favorites is Bach Rescue Remedy Pet. This can be added to your dog or cat’s water just an hour or so before your pets need it. Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a combination of flower water remedies. Let’s briefly explore the difference between flower and herbal remedies:
Herbal remedies generally work more on the physical level where as Flower Remedies work on the emotional energy level.
Herbals are plants that are macerated, like homeopathic remedies, but do not go through an extreme dilution process.
For example, flower remedy plants are soaked in water via heat to infuse an energy imprint that works on balancing negative vibrations carried within the body and which in time, causes interference in the functions of our organs and tissues.
Here are a few of the more important calming ingredients in Rescue Remedy:
- Star of Bethlehem: For trauma and shock, whether experienced recently or in the past. Teaches the ability to recover from traumas and to integrate them into the present life.
- Cherry Plum: For those who fear losing control of their thoughts and actions and doing things they know are bad for them or which they consider wrong. Teaches trust in one’s spontaneous wisdom and the courage to follow one’s path.
- Rock Rose: For situations in which one experiences panic or terror.
- Clematis: For those who find their lives unhappy and withdraw into fantasy worlds. They are ungrounded and indifferent to the details of everyday life. Teaches one to establish a bridge between the physical world and the world of ideas; may foster great creativity. Is also used to bring clarity and alertness to the present moment.
Many don’t know that the same thing which makes an animal hyper can also induce a calming effect. For example, catnip can make some cats act a bit goofy. Valerian Root and Silvervine have a similar effect. During times of stress, however, if you place a catnip toy near your cat, it can have a very calming effect on them.
Even cats who don’t normally respond to catnip will respond to one of these Top 5 Alternatives to Catnip. Be sure you stay with an organic source when selecting a valerian root or silvervine substitute.
This is one of our favorites:
If you plan to go this route, you need to do some research and exercise some caution. Essential oils are super effective for stressed out pets, but there are some that are quite safe to use if you choose a high-quality brand and dilute it well.
When using around your cat, be sure to read this article through Using Essential Oils and Natural Remedies on Cats
There are a number of treats on the market that can help calm a pet. We’ve had mixed results with these. While they are great for everyday management of a home, we haven’t found them as effective for immediate “problems” like fireworks or thunderstorms.
You should, however, be aware of them as there are plenty of them on the market (including some unusual marijuana treats for pets).
Here are a few that we have tried and a few we have not, but would like to make sure you’re aware of them:
- Canna-Pet Cat hemp based CBD capsules for felines
- Canna-Pet Large Dog hemp based CBD capsules for dogs
Remember, it’s important to start any natural remedy early to make sure your pets respond well.