Dealing with an anxious dog is normal for almost every pet owner. Whether it's separation anxiety, noise phobia from thunderstorm or fireworks, car travel motion sickness or anything else, there are ways you can help your pooch deal with the discomfort. With some extremely sensitive and anxious dogs you may need to do this to avoid them running away, getting lost or injuring themselves. Over the counter dog anxiety medication is one of the several options available for this.
ALSO READ: Top 15 Best Dog Anxiety Aids for Calming
Identify a Need for Anxiety Medication First
Many times people assume that a dog who gets a little excited and jumps up and down needs medication, but this isn’t necessarily true. Before you go out and buy a pack of dog anxiety medication over the counter, ask yourself a few pertinent questions:
- Is your dog a danger to themselves or others when they’re anxious?
- Does the dog have issues with upset stomach, diarrhea when they’re anxious?
- Are they chewing through doors or breaking windows in order to escape the home when you leave?
If the answer to most of these is yes, your dog just may benefit from a light over the counter anxiety medication. The 4th of July is a great example of why some pets should definitely need some help controlling their fear and anxiety. Fireworks are terrifying for some canines, and you can expect Independence Day to bring with it Craigslist ads that are full of lost and found pets.
Animals that are scared or sense an immediate threat of danger will chew through doors, walls, and windows to escape. In addition to being hit by cars once they escape, many dogs cut themselves or otherwise injure themselves on metal garage doors and glass.
Dogs like this, if they aren’t going to be supervised during holidays that involve fireworks, need to be secured and given some anxiety relief, whether it's toys for anxiety, over the counter dog anxiety medication, calming collar or anxiety vest. If you choose medication, there are a few things you must know before you start shopping around.
Benadryl is a Good Place to Start
Even though Benadryl is most often used for allergies, it’s very common for pet owners to give it to their dogs as a means to calm them down. The recommended dose for this is 1 mg per pound of dog's body weight. Benadryl generally comes in 25 mg tablets. So if you have a smaller dog, it’s best to speak with a veterinarian before giving your dog any Benadryl.
This medication is also used for things like motion sickness during car travel, fear of thunderstorms and fireworks, and many owners provide it for the caretakers in pet hotels in case their dog needs some helping relaxing.
Try Out Natural Ingredients
Some pet owners are worried about giving their dogs too many chemicals and feel that it could harm their bodies. If this is something you’re concerned about, you’ll be happy to know there are plenty of all-natural options that work extremely well.
Medications that include things like chamomile, ginger root, and passion flower are holistic ingredients with natural calming properties. The newest type of natural anxiety meds for dogs is hemp oil. There's a rapidly growing number of pet owners who have great results with using hemp oil for dog anxiety. Several brands are available, but GENUTRI is probably the most well-regarded so far.
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A quick note about essential oils: while they’re safe for consumption in treat/medication form, you should not use essential oils for dogs. There have been cases in which people have burned essential oils and found that their pets reacted badly to it.
Start with a Smaller Dose
To ensure that your pet won’t have an allergic reaction to a new treatment, start with something a little smaller than the recommended dose. This is especially important when you just bought completely new dog anxiety medication over the counter that you haven’t used before. Starting small helps your dog’s body acclimate to the newest addition of their daily diet.
Look for Domestic Brands
Sadly, many pets end up severely maimed or die because of poor quality products that are often made my foreign companies. Specifically, Hartz and other Chinese-made pet products notoriously make headlines for making unsafe pet care products.
If you can’t find any domestic brands near you, your second best bet is to find products from Canada and Europe. Their laws regarding the sale and manufacture of pet medications and supplements are closer to US policies than those of China.
One of the more popular recommended brands on the Amazon for dog supplements and anxiety medication is Strawfield Pets. Their Calming Chews contain all natural, grain free ingredients that are 100% made in the USA. The chews contain L-Tryptophan and chamomile to help soothe your pet; not to mention, what dog isn’t happy to get a treat when they’re feeling scared or anxious!
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Whichever brand you choose, be sure to look up reviews and check for recalls. It’s always a plus when you can see what certain medications have done for other pet owners.
Give Anxiety Medication an Hour Before the Occasion
Generally, dog anxiety medication is not recommended round the clock unless the pup in question has experienced some sort of serious trauma that prevents them from having a normal life.
However, you should give them their medicine at least 45 minutes to an hour before whatever it is you plan to do, whether you’re having company over or going for a car ride.
Giving it to them too late could results in over-excitement, and they may vomit their medication back up. Your dog should also eat before they take any kind of supplement. Just like with us, it’s never a good idea to take any kind of supplement on an empty stomach.
Look for Anxiety Medications That Come in Treat Form
Dogs don’t particularly enjoy taking their medicine in pill form – it’s always accompanied by a nasty face and possibility of being spat out. Hiding it in bread or peanut butter doesn’t always work either since some pups are smart enough to eat around it. If your dog refuses to take their medication, it’s obviously not going to do much good.
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There are plenty of companies that offer a treat version for picky puppers, which makes the process much easier for the both of you. The above shown Zesty Paws anxiety treats are the best known. Just remember to keep them out of reach of your dog – you don’t want them to get into the package and eat the whole thing. As an alternative, you can also buy pill pocket treats and use those with the anxiety meds.
Veterinary Consultation May Be Best
You might be thinking that the whole point of dog anxiety medication over the counter is to avoid a vet appointment. The goal though is to ensure that your pup’s overall health won’t be affected. If your pet already has a heath condition or is currently taking other kinds of medication, the dog could interact badly with OTCs.
Most of the time a quick call or email to your vet will suffice, and you may not need an actual appointment.
Every dog is unique in their medical needs.
Because all of our dogs are different, if you do notice side effects after administering over the counter anxiety medication, contact your vet immediately.