The Best Dog Calming Treats & Anxiety Medication in 2023
Just like people, dogs can experience anxiety for a number of reasons. Stress in your dog’s life can lead to behavioral problems and health issues. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your pet’s anxiety so he can be a calm, happy member of the household.
Whether your dog has a chronic issue like separation anxiety or experiences an acute stress reaction to holiday fireworks, calming treats and anxiety medication can help him calm down and get some relief. How do you choose the right medication? It depends on the dog and your individual needs. In this guide, we’ll look at some of our top choices and help you find the right solution to soothe your nervous pup.
Our Top 6 List
Last update on 2023-12-02 at 08:33 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Premium Care Treats to Calm Dogs
Made with all-natural ingredients like hemp seed, chamomile, valerian root and L-tryptophan, the PremiumCare chew treats provide soothing relief from fear, stress and hyperactivity. All of the ingredients in the formula work together to provide natural relief and relaxation without wasting any space on unnecessary fillers. The tasty duck flavor appeals to even the most finicky pets.
- 120-count package
- Unique duck flavor
- No added fillers or common allergens like corn or soy
- Money-back guarantee
- All-natural ingredients with no fillers and additives
- Highly rated for effectiveness thanks to its powerful ingredients
- Provides soothing results without pharmaceutical-grade tranquilizers
- Unique odor and flavor keeps dogs interested
- Duck formula is somewhat higher in fat than other treats, so it may be the wrong choice for a pup on a diet.
2. Zesty Paws Calming Bites
Formulated with organic ingredients, these natural supplements combat anxiety and hyperactivity with the active ingredient Suntheanine. The amino acid Suntheanine boosts serotonin and dopamine production in the brain and promotes sleep and relaxation.
In addition to Suntheanine, the formula also includes L-tryptophan, hemp, valerian root and organic passion flower. The chews are available in either turkey or peanut butter flavors.
- Two flavor options to appeal to different tastes
- American-made and organic
- Comes in pack of 90 soft heart-shaped chews
- GRAS-designated L-Theanine replicates the health benefits of green tea without any caffeine
- All-natural quality ingredients
- Works to provide same-day relief
- Safe to take daily or as-needed
- Small size means you may need to give several treats to see results
- Some pet owners report increased gas or gastrointestinal upset
3. Pawlife Calm Pup
A top-rated natural calming aid, these duck-flavored chews combine the soothing power of hemp oil with organic chamomile, L-tryptophan and organic ginger root. The treat formula also includes glucosamine for joint support, making it unique among the supplements on this list.
- 120-count soft chews
- Duck-flavored treats without fillers or additives
- Includes active ingredients of hemp and glucosamine
- Contains glucosamine for joint health
- Provides same-day relief from anxiety
- Safe to use daily to promote relaxation and joint health
- Unique duck flavor appeals even to most picky eaters
- Treats may need to be cut in half for smaller dogs
- Higher in fat than some formulas, so may be greasy or bad for overweight pups
4. Vetoquinol Zylkene Anxiety Capsules
These non-drowsy oral capsules contain the active ingredient alpha-casozepine, a lactose-free milk protein shown to aid in reducing stress. The capsules are preservative free and can be given whole or broken apart to mix with food. Unlike many other calming supplements, the Zylkene medication has minimal ingredients and should be safe for even the most sensitive of stomachs or allergy-prone pets.
- 14 count 75mg capsules
- Active ingredient is alpha-casozepine, a natural milk protein
- Can be taken daily or as-needed
- Preservative free and designed to be gentle on sensitive stomachs
- Capsules are shelf-stable, non-greasy and can easily be administered with food or treat pouches of the pet’s choice
- Effective for both dogs and cats
- Affordable and can be stored a long time
- Non-drowsy, lactose-free, and with minimal ingredients or potential allergens
- Some pets may not like taking capsules
- Active ingredient may not be effective for all pets
5. Nexpaw Treats for Dogs with Melatonin
Made with melatonin, chamomile, B vitamins and L-tryptophan, these natural calming aids are free of unnecessary fillers. The soft chews help with sleep, reducing anxiety and eliminating stress for situations like car rides, separation anxiety and fireworks.
- 120 count soft chews
- Contains active ingredients of melatonin, L-tryptophan, chamomile, B vitamins, passion flower and ginger
- Free of wheat and other common allergens
- Made in the USA with natural ingredients
- More affordable than similar chews on the market
- A variety of active ingredients for short-term and long-term soothing effects
- Natural formula includes ingredients that work together to alleviate anxiety
- Lacking in hemp, an ingredient common in other chews of this class
- Melatonin may lose potency with frequent use, rendering the chews less effective over time
- Dogs may not enjoy the flavor
6. VetriScience Calming Behavior Supplement
The VetriScience supplements are vet-recommended and come in a variety of flavors, including a flavorless liquid formula, making this a great choice for picky pets. Designed to be used as-needed to provide relief from acute stress, these calming treats give results for up to four hours.
- 60 count bite-size chews
- Active ingredients include thiamine, L-theanine and C3 (colostrum calming complex)
- Available in liver, bacon, peanut butter or flavorless formulas
- Can be administered as a chewable treat or liquid
- More affordable than similar supplements
- A variety of flavor options to appeal to any pet
- Safe to take daily
- Contains fewer active ingredients than most formulas
- Designed for acute stress, not as a daily supplement
Based on consumer reviews, active ingredients, cost and overall effectiveness, we’ve found the PREMIUM CARE Calming Treats to be the best value. Featuring a combination of natural and high-quality ingredients that work together to promote calmness and health, these treats provide the greatest variety in help against canine anxiety. They’re also highly palatable and safe for daily use in dogs who need sustained anti-anxiety treatment.
Our runner-up choice goes to the Vetoquinol Zylkene Anxiety Medicine. Although it has limited active ingredients, the flexibility of multiple flavors and delivery methods makes this medicine a strong contender. That the formula is effective for both dogs and cats is another great advantage. If you’re nervous about any of the ingredients in the PREMIUM CARE treats, the Vetoquinol is a great second choice.
When you suffer from anxiety, you can often talk yourself down from the worst of it by thinking logically about your situation. Unfortunately, your furry friend doesn’t have that same ability.
When an anxious dog is confronted with an empty house, a new pet, fireworks, a crying baby or any other stressful stimulus, he has no way of telling himself to calm down. Dogs live on their feelings and instincts alone, and even the vacuum cleaner can seem like the end of the world to a frightened pup.
This is why calming treats and medication can be so helpful. Natural supplements can help to soothe a dog and make the emotional response less intense. This in turn makes behavior modification and training possible to provide more long-term solutions for a happy, well-adjusted dog.
Understanding Canine Anxiety
Most human anxiety stems from worrying about the future or getting hung up on the past. Dogs are different. They live in the moment, and their anxieties are usually tied directly to whatever they are experiencing at the time. This means you cannot reason with them or soothe them with logic, but it also means that canine anxiety responds very well to herbal remedies or medicines that reduce the fear response.
Dogs most commonly experience anxiety either from having their senses overloaded or being exposed to things that are new and frightening. If a pup isn’t accustomed to a certain sound, for example, hearing it can cause anxiety. Some breeds are especially sensitive and high strung, making them more prone to separation anxiety and other issues.
While every dog is different, some sources of anxiety are more common than others:
- Fireworks, vacuum cleaners, thunder and other loud noises
- New people in the house, such as guests or a new baby
- A new pet, especially if either animal is territorial or aggressive
- Separation anxiety caused by being left home alone
- Fear of specific stressful situations, like riding in a car, being groomed or visiting the vet’s office
In some situations, a pet’s anxiety is easy to diagnose. You may notice shaking, crying, drooling, barking, pacing or other obvious signs of discomfort in response to a specific stimulus.
However, anxiety can also manifest in subtle and unexpected ways. Frequent stomach upset, housebreaking accidents, inappropriate chewing and excessive licking can all be signs of anxiety in your pet. In many cases, behavioral issues are rooted in fear; removing the fear response can make training easier and solve the behavioral problem.
How to Choose the Right Supplement
Before starting your pet on any supplement, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. Your vet may have recommendations for products to try, and he or she can also help you to rule out underlying health conditions that could be causing or adding to a pet’s stress. For example, eliminating in the house could be stress-related, but it could also be caused by a urinary tract infection or diabetes.
Once you’ve ruled out any health conditions and identified whether your pet has any allergies or concerns that might cause problems when taking a supplement, it’s time to look for the right remedy for your frightened pooch.
When buying treats, there are a few things you’ll want to think about:
- The size of your dog and the recommended dose. You ideally want to be able to dose your dog with one or two treats. If your dog is too big or too small for that dosage to work, it might be easier to find a different brand than to try to cut up the treats or convince the dog to eat many at a time.
- Your dog’s preferred type of treat. Does your dog usually prefer soft, chewy treats or crunchy biscuits? Does he like a specific type of flavor or is he more of a variety eater? You’ll want to choose a treat that the dog will take willingly so that dosing the pet doesn’t become a stressful experience on its own.
- The active ingredients and their effects. Different ingredients found in calming treats do different things, and an active ingredient in one formula may be unnecessary for your pet. For example, melatonin is a sleep aid that can help a pet sleep through the night, but it won’t help soothe an anxious pet right away. Think about the exact problems you’re trying to solve and choose a formula that will answer that need.
If possible, you might want to try a sample from your vet’s office or buy a smaller quantity of treats to start out. That will allow you to experiment and find the best option for your pet without spending a lot of money on solutions that won’t work.
Tips for Success
- Always follow the instructions on the package
- Don’t exceed the recommended dose
- When possible, give to your pet at least 30 minutes in advance of a stressful event
- Find a treat your dog enjoys and create a pleasant ritual around dosing so that he will form a positive association with the treat
Most importantly, recognize that soothing treats are just one part of what should be a holistic approach to your pet’s mental and emotional health. A happy, well-adjusted pet is one who receives proper training and gentle exposure to a variety of new experiences. By using calming supplements to help put your pup in a healthy head space, you can focus on working with a trainer to provide long-term solutions and prevent future problems.
We are the Pet Dog Pals, a group of avid pet owners, bloggers, product testers, and writers for all your canine needs! We own a collective 16 dogs and 21 cats to help us test and review pet products. Our top lists and tips come from experience to help you be the best dog owner you can be!