1.) Create a safe and calming environment in the house. Ideally, away from windows or doors. It helps to close the blinds or curtains. Play some soothing music. My go-to during times of stress is ‘Animal Whispers Sounds Therapy’ available to download here.
There are also many free sources to try on Youtube like ‘Through A Dog’s Ear’, available here. You may also consider purchasing a white noise machine which can help reduce anxiety. You may try these noises on Youtube first, or just go through a few different healing sounds and frequencies on Youtube to see which your animal likes the most! Be mindful not to play stimulating music and sounds from the TV as this can heighten emotions.
Hydrosols (Floral waters): Leave out 2-3 drops or spritz of Lavender, Neroli or Roman Chamomile hydrosols in 100 ml of water for them to self-soothe. These are very safe, calming and soothing aromatics to ease anxiety and fear. Good quality hydrosols are perfectly safe for the animal to ingest. You may also spray a few spritz onto their bedding, in the area they are resting as a room and space spray or if they have shown that they like the aromatic, you may spray onto their bandanna.
For instructions on how to offer hydrosols, please click here.
Essential oils: Frankincense, Valerian root, Lavender, Chamomile are all amazing anxiety, stress and fear soothing essential oils to offer for self-selection. Remember to use good quality oils from trusted suppliers who supply to aromatherapist, and dilute well.
For instructions on how to offer essential oils, please click here.
Dry herbs: Valerian root pouches. Valerian root is a wonderful relaxant and contains natural sedative qualities. Place 1 small handful of dried Valerian root herbs into a small pouch or wrap in tissue, and place near the animal as they rest. The animal may sniff, nibble or lick it.
Lavender or Chamomile Infusion: You can use dried Lavender or Chamomile flowers, or empty a Chamomile or Lavender tea bag into a pot (making sure there is only lavender and chamomile leaves in the tea bags, not mixed with other herbs or teas), pour ¼ cup of water for small dogs, 1 cup for large dogs, bring to the boil, then leave to cool. Strain the leaves. Once cooled, pour into a bowl for your animal to self-select. They may choose to lick, sniff or just sit near it.
Remember to offer aromatics to the animals through self-selection, so that they can self-soothe and self-medicate in a safe way as nature intended. Make sure they always have fresh, clean, plain drinking water available and are free to leave the room, away from the aromatics when they have had enough!
I have created an aromatic kit for dogs with therapeutic grade oils and hydrosols for soothing anxiety and fear around fireworks. Please click here for the aromatic kit for fireworks.
3.) Use food as a distraction
Put their favourite food on a lick mat, Kong, snuffle mat or other slow-release toys. You may freeze the Kong or lick mat beforehand so it lasts longer. Other natural chews include naturally dried cow’s ears. Although they may look a bit intimidating, the hairs also act as a natural wormer, flushing out other parasites.
4.) Include anti-anxiety foods
- Turkey: A great source of Typtophan, which increases the production of serotonin, helping the animal feel more happy, calm and relaxed.
- Salmon: The essential fatty acids, particularly Omega 3 helps avoid the stress hormone cortisol from spiking. Another amazing factor with salmon is that it also contains Tryptophan which has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress levels.
- Spinach: High concentrations of magnesium, along with numerous minerals and vitamins. These balance neurotransmitters that help reduce anxiety. Try to buy organic where possible.
- Asparagus: Packed with anti-oxidants to prevent and reduce anxiety. Asparagus acts as a prebiotic in the GI tract, which are essential to nutrient absorption and reduction of leaky gut, which can be a source of anxiety for your dog.
- Sweet potato: A complex carbohydrate full of vitamins and minerals, which help regulate blood sugar levels. Helps maintain a healthy GI tract which is vital for reducing anxiety.
- Avoid or minimise dry food and kibble-based diets where possible. Often, dried food causes blood sugar levels to spike and GI tract imbalances, causing gut issues which greatly contributes to anxiety and unbalanced emotions. If your animal is on dry food, try incorporating fresh wholefoods into their diet by adding 10% of fresh foods to the kibble each day. If you feel like they are reacting to a certain type of new food (loose stool, itchy skin), then limit that food and work with a holistic animal practitioner, nutritionist or veterinarian to figure out what foods are optimal for your animal.