Nat­u­ral calm

Pets (Singapore) - - Ask The Expert -

My anx­ious 11-month-old res­cue dog goes through rounds of panic and alert bark­ing, and my trainer sug­gested giv­ing it calming nat­u­ral reme­dies like va­le­rian root, Bach flower reme­dies and cat­nip ex­tract. What nat­u­ral reme­dies are safe to be given to my pooch and which would you rec­om­mend?

Train­ing and be­hav­iour mod­i­fi­ca­tion or de­sen­si­ti­sa­tion is def­i­nitely the first choice, as this can pro­duce last­ing changes that ac­tively change the dog’s re­sponse to stres­sors. But, in some cases, the be­hav­iour does not change, or only par­tially changes, and there is a need for fur­ther treat­ment. Ortho­dox med­i­cal ap­proaches of­ten use a com­bi­na­tion of med­i­ca­tions like ben­zo­di­aza­p­ines to quell anx­i­ety, and may be com­bined with an­tide­pres­sant type med­i­ca­tions (sero­tonin re­up­take in­hibitors). These can also be used in con­junc­tion, or apart, from newer pheromone treat­ments like dog-ap­peas­ing pheromones, which mimic the scent given off by a fe­male dog to calm her pup­pies. This prod­uct can be used as a spray or as a col­lar.

There are also sev­eral nat­u­ral ap­proaches to calming a dog. As men­tioned, Bach flower reme­dies, in par­tic­u­lar the com­mon com­bi­na­tion in Res­cue Rem­edy, can be of great value in some dogs, and can be used specif­i­cally in times of stress, or an­tic­i­pated stress (like a vet visit). There are also sev­eral safe herbs that can be used for calming, in­clud­ing skull­cap, pas­sion flower, va­le­rian and camomile. These herbs are not fast-act­ing and will work over a pe­riod of days/weeks as a sup­ple­ment, but us­ing them long-term can negate their ef­fi­cacy. A dose of 20 to 30mg per day of ac­tive herb is ad­e­quate. L-Thea­nine, an amino acid, is also quite useful at 25mg per day. Mag­ne­sium, in the form of a chelated (pro­tein bound) min­eral sup­ple­ment is quite ef­fec­tive at calming a hy­per-ex­cited ner­vous sys­tem (ap­prox­i­mately 5mg of ac­tive mag­ne­sium per day). Other sup­ple­ments in­clude gamma amino bu­tyric acid at 25mg per day, and an­other amino acid, tryp­to­phan (of­ten sup­plied as 5 hy­drox­ytryp­to­phan), at 10mg per day. Tryp­to­phan is a pre­cur­sor of ser­a­tonin, a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter that is im­por­tant for men­tal calm­ness. And fi­nally, vi­ta­min B6 (py­ro­dox­ine) at 2mg per day.

All of the above are safe to use in dogs, but none should be used for any great length of time, as they should be con­sid­ered medicine and not nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ments.

EX­PERT: DR BRUCE SYME BVSc(Hons) Founder of Vets All Nat­u­ral P/L

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