Unfortunately, dogs that deal with stress and anxiety are more common than we expect. As pet owners love their dogs, they find it very difficult to see their furry friends’ restlessness, excessive barking, and destructive behavior caused by various stressors, such as a trip to the vet, being left alone, or maybe fireworks.

While there are many prescription sedatives, before you resort to them, you should try some natural ways to relax a stressed dog, as they will likely have no side effects. You can try many herbal remedies, supplements, and lifestyle changes to calm your canine companion safely and gently.

This comprehensive guide will help you calm your anxious canine companion using only natural remedies and lifestyle changes. Your dog relies on you, so do your research, talk to your vet, and dedicate yourself and your dog to a natural wellness plan. You’ll be rewarded with a more comfy and healthier best friend by your side for years to come.

Understanding Dog Anxiety

Dogs are humans’ best friends, so it is no surprise that they experience stress and anxiety for many of the same reasons their owners do. Some of the most common triggers are the following:

  • Separation from their family – they are pack animals and hate being left alone
  • Thunderstorms, construction sounds, and fireworks – loud noises like booms and bangs frighten dogs. (Check out for more tips related to how to calm your dog during thunderstorms)
  • Punishment or scolding – harsh discipline may lead to anxiety due to fear of future punishment.
  • Car rides or vet visits – unfamiliar places and people make our furry friends insecure

See these articles if you are having problems with your dog during car traveling
Dog whining in the Car? or Have a dog with car sickness?

Signs your dog may be feeling uneasy include:

  • Excessive pacing, shaking or panting
  • Whining, barking, or howling
  • Chewing on furniture, paws, or tail
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty sleeping
  • Separation distress like crying, aggressiveness, scratching at doors, or losing toilet training.

It is essential to address your pet’s anxiety, and providing a loving and predictable environment, learning relaxation techniques, and a natural sedative for dogs are the best places to start. Building their confidence and ensuring you avoid as many stress triggers as possible will turn your anxious dog into a more tranquil and happier buddy.

Dog Jack Russell Terrier lying on the bed in the room

Benefits of Natural Sedatives

Natural sedatives offer several significant advantages over prescription medications for calming anxious dogs.

First of all, they are much safer. Herbs, supplements, and homeopathic remedies have been used for many years and rarely cause dangerous side effects or addiction.

These safe sedatives for anxious dogs are also affordable and readily available. You can find many natural calming aids for dogs online or in pet stores that usually cost less than prescription medications.

Another advantage is that natural sedatives can be used in the short or long term. Some work within half an hour to calm a dog during stressful events such as vet visits, car rides, or thunderstorms. Others need to be administered regularly to take full effect and can be used daily for persistent anxiety.

Finally, natural sedatives are a more natural approach. Many pet owners prefer natural remedies to medication whenever possible. Herbal sedatives, essential oils, massage, and behavior modification can be effective for mild to moderate anxiety without the use of chemicals.

For all these reasons, natural sedatives are worth trying as a first line of defense against your dog’s anxiety.

Herbal Remedies

Calming herbs such as chamomile, valerian, and lavender have been used for centuries to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation. Their relaxing effects are also suitable for anxious dogs when administered correctly and under the guidance of your vet.

However, even though herbal remedies are natural, they are not safe or beneficial for every dog. Close dog monitoring is necessary, especially when starting a new treatment.

  • Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant that attaches to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain that affect sleep and mood. Chamomile tea, pills, or glycerin tinctures can help to calm your furry best friend.
  • Valerian root contains valerenic acid and valerenol, which act as natural sedatives. Valerian is also available in tablets, tinctures, or extracts that you can add to your pet’s food or water bowl.
  • Lavender essential oil contains linalool and linalyl acetate, a terpene with a calming effect. Lavender oil can be diluted and applied to the dog’s ears, scattered around the home, or added to a collar or bandana. You only need a few drops as lavender oil is very concentrated.

Herbal sedatives for dog anxiety may take days or weeks of regular use to become fully effective. They can be used alone or combined, but check with your vet first, especially if your dog is on any medications. Always start with a low dose of herbal remedy and slowly increase to find the optimal amount for your dog. Don’t forget that the dose will change based on the size of your dog too.

Supplements for Dog Anxiety

There are various natural calming supplements for dogs that can help to calm your four-legged friend and reduce anxiety. CBD oil, L-theanine, and melatonin are some of the most popular options.

  1. CBD oil is extracted from cannabis and hemp and contains very little THC (the psychoactive substance found in marijuana). CBD oil interacts with your dog’s endocannabinoid system, helping to regulate mood and stress.

Numerous dog owners have found that CBD oil helps to relax anxious dogs and alleviate symptoms such as restlessness, excessive barking, sleep problems, and inflammation. CBD oil is explicitly formulated for togs in tincture, treat, or capsule form. CBD oil can reduce saliva production, leading to thirst and making some dogs sleepy at high doses.

I, as a dog owner used and still using CBD oil for my flat-coated retriever for more than 4 years. I can say it’s helpful, especially during loud thunderstorms.

  1. L-theanine is an amino acid with a soothing effect and is best known as an ingredient in green tea. L-theanine supplements can promote relaxation, reduce stress, and support restful sleep. The natural calming effect of L-theanine helps to alleviate anxiety and restlessness in dogs. L-theanine supplements for dogs are available in the form of chewable tablets or as a powder that is added to food.

L-theanine is a low-risk supplement with no known side effects for dogs. If your dog suffers from hypotonia, you should avoid this ingredient as a precaution.

  1. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced in the brain and regulates the sleep-wake rhythm. Melatonin supplements can help to relax dogs and promote restful sleep. For many anxious or nervous dogs, improving and regulating their sleep cycle can help relieve their daytime anxiety and restlessness. Melatonin is available in tablets, capsules, or chewable tablets designed specifically for dogs.

The melatonin dosage for dogs depends on their weight. For example, dogs weighing 10 to 25 pounds should receive 1.5 mg. Start with a low dose and increase slowly to find the right amount for your dog. The main side effect is drowsiness, while it can also lead to changes in fertility in dogs that have not yet been neutered. Other possible side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort, increased heart rate, itching, and confusion.

Upset Golden Retriever looking out a window and missing his owner
Upset Golden Retriever looking out a window and missing his owner

Homeopathic Remedies

Rescue Remedy and Aconitum are two popular homeopathic remedies for dog anxiety. Homeopathic remedies are natural, safe, and gentle, and they can be beneficial in many dogs to reduce tension and provide a general sense of calm.

However, in cases of severe or prolonged stress, particularly separation anxiety, homeopathy alone may not be sufficient. In these cases, it is best used in conjunction with training, behavioral strategies, and possibly medication under veterinary supervision.

  • Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower essences and helps relieve tension and anxiety. It is available in drop form, which you put into your dog’s water bowl or food or directly into his mouth. Rescue Remedy is suitable for dogs of all ages and sizes. You may notice a calming effect after just half an hour, but for some dogs, it can take up to 5 days for the full effect to take hold with regular use.
  • Aconitum napellus is a homeopathic remedy made from aconite. It helps to relieve anxiety, restlessness, and distress, especially in anxious or nervous dogs. Aconitum comes in the form of pellets that are placed in the dog’s mouth and dissolve. It is most effective when given just before or during an anxiety-provoking event. You can expect Aconitum to start working within 10-15 minutes. Aconitum is best used occasionally and intermittently, not long-term.

As with any supplement, you should always speak to your vet before giving your dog a new homeopathic remedy to ensure there are no contraindications with other medications or health conditions.

Lifestyle and Behavioral Strategies

To help an anxious dog relax and adjust their environment and routine.

  • Walk or play with your dog regularly. Exercise releases pent-up energy and also releases endorphins, which improve mood. Just 30 minutes a day can be a great help.
  • Practice basic obedience exercises with your dog. Simple commands such as ‘sit,’ ‘stay,’ and ‘leave it’ can boost your dog’s confidence and provide mental stimulation. Keep training sessions with positive reinforcement short and positive.
  • You can also try counterconditioning. Counterconditioning involves changing your dog’s response to the stimuli responsible for the fear by substituting the aggressive or anxious behavior with a more desirable one, such as sitting or focusing on the owner.
  • Another training method is desensitization. It would be best to slowly introduce your canine friend to the source of the fear, preferably in small doses and with less intensity.
  • Establish a predictable routine for your dog. Feed them, walk them, and go to bed simultaneously every day. Surprises can trigger anxiety in some dogs. Sticking to a routine helps them feel secure.
  • Give your dog their own space for when they want to relax and unwind. Their crate, bed, or exercise pen with some toys can give them a place to retreat if they feel overwhelmed. Make it comfortable by adding blankets, treats, and puzzle toys.
  • Soothing music, audiobooks, or TV shows in the background may have a calming effect on your dog. Try leaving calming music or nature sounds on when you have to leave them alone. See if your dog responds well to different types of audio stimulation.
  • Engaging in brain games proves advantageous for all dogs, with heightened significance for those with limited physical activity, such as older dogs or those recuperating from surgery. Additionally, these games foster self-confidence by promoting independent play and learning.

Combined, these lifestyle changes and behavioral strategies can significantly help reduce anxiety and restlessness in dogs. While natural supplements and remedies are also helpful, a solid foundation of exercise, training, and routine is most effective in the long run. An anxious dog can become a calm and confident companion with time and consistency.

Black Poodle dog staying calmly on the couch

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Are natural sedatives safe for all dogs?

While natural sedatives can be safe for most dogs, you’ll need to check with your vet first, particularly if your canine has any underlying health problems or is on any other medications. Some herbs and supplements may interact with certain medicines, so always tell your vet about any natural remedies you want to try.

Moreover, some dogs may be allergic to certain herbs or supplements, so watch your dog closely when starting any natural sedative to ensure an adverse reaction. Besides, avoid giving human medications to dogs without a consultation.

How long does it take for natural sedatives to work on a dog?

Natural sedatives can take some time to become fully effective in calming an anxious dog. The actual time will depend on the remedy used, the dog’s size, and anxiety level.
In general, supplements like melatonin or L-theanine take 30-60 minutes to start working, while essential oils take around 20-30 minutes. Chamomile, valerian, or lavender need up to 2 hours to start working, while the least time is required for homeopathic remedies like Rescue Remedy – 15-30 minutes.

Can I combine multiple natural sedatives for better results?

While combining multiple natural sedatives for dogs can be effective, like valerian and melatonin, for example, you must do it with caution. Start with one remedy at a time, and slowly introduce another if required. This allows you to monitor how your dog responds and avoid possible side effects from interactions.


Anxiety and stress are, unfortunately, as common issues for our furry friends as they are for us. Still, the good news is that there are safe and effective ways to help them calm without prescription drugs. Whether you opt for aromatherapy, homeopathic remedies, herbal supplements, or behavioral methods, you will find an approach that suits your furry friend’s unique needs with patience and consistency.

However, when in doubt, check with your vet before administering any new remedy or multiple treatments at the same time. The most important thing is your canine pal’s health, safety, and well-being.

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