So, your canine companion seems to be exhibiting symptoms of anxiety, stress, and nervousness, but you don’t know what to do for them? Humans can just go to a psychiatrist or therapist and take some medication, but the answer to anxiety problems in dogs isn’t always so obvious.
Since dogs can’t orally communicate and tell you how they feel or what they’re craving, dog owners are left to come up with their own solutions. When it comes to treating dogs for any illness, there are three angles of approach that should be taken simultaneously – diet, activity, and rest.
Diet is especially important when treating any kind of canine behavioral issues, as the wrong foods can make matters worse while the right foods can work wonders to get your furry friend back to their normal selves again. With that said, here are the top 10 foods for treating anxiety, stress, and nervousness in your dog:
Bonus tip – Before you draw up a doggy meal plan with the following foods, check out these helpful tips for calming a nervous dog for additional canine stress-fighting ideas.
Your dog may be deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, which could be causing them to have a disproportionate ‘fight or flight’ response. If your buddy seems to be on edge a lot, try feeding them salmon or fish oil at least once or twice a week for a boost in crucial Omega-3 fatty acids. Dogs absolutely love salmon regardless of how you prepare it. You could also scrape the white fatty part that rises to the top when the salmon is baked or grilled and mix that fatty substance in with their food.
You might not think your dog would like fruit, but most actually love blueberries. These antioxidant-packing nutritional powerhouses will help your dog fight the effects of aging and stress for better mental and physical health overall. As an additional benefit, blueberries and other antioxidant-rich fruits will reduce your dog’s risk of cancer and chronic disease. As a side note, wild blueberries are known to have a higher concentration of polyphenols than farm-cultivated berries.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are far more nutritious than most people know, with an abundance of vitamin A and B6 as well as a fair amount of vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, folate, thiamine, and copper. The fiber promotes a healthy digestive system while the potassium content helps with anxiety reduction. Sweet potatoes are also rich in complex carbohydrates which help to regulate blood sugar – a vital health metric that has been directly linked to mood in both dogs and humans.
4. Kale or Spinach
Leafy greens like kale and spinach are loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, B6, C, and K. Furthermore, the lutein and beta carotene help to reduce stress and inflammation. Other leafy greens with stress-protective qualities include Swiss chard, broccoli, and collard greens.
Most people don’t know that beef is an effective antidepressant for dogs and humans. Beef is rich in vitamins B6 and B5, both of which are known to be excellent for reducing anxiety. Beef consumption also increases the presence of pantothenic acid, which lowers blood cortisol levels and calms the body’s response to stress.
6. Hemp and Pumpkin Seeds
Hemp seed oil is said to be nature’s most balanced oil, with a healthy serving of all the crucial fatty acids – Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. In fact, the fatty acid profile is almost identical to fish oil, which is remarkable considering it comes from a seed. Sprinkle hemp seeds into your dog’s meals or drizzle hemp seed oil on top.
7. Turkey Breast
If a dog becomes more nervous in the evening, they may be having anxiety issues due to poor sleeping habits. Turkey is rich in L-tryptophan – a precursor to serotonin that is crucial for regulating sleep and stress. This “feel-good chemical” makes both dogs and humans feel calm and relaxed.
8. Brown Rice
Feeding brown rice alongside turkey is a great idea because it enhances the absorption of tryptophan. Even the Mayo Clinic has recognized the ability of complex carbohydrates like brown rice to serve as natural alternatives to serotonin reuptake inhibitors. By increasing tryptophan absorption, brown rice also leads to the production of more serotonin, which will make your dog feel happy and satisfied.
9. Whole Oats
Whole oats provide the same benefit as brown rice being that they also contain complex carbohydrates that help with the regulation of blood sugar and insulin. Dogs love oatmeal and it’s great for helping them gain or maintain weight in a healthy manner. It also helps with tryptophan absorption as well, so oatmeal and turkey are a good combination to feed your dog if they’ve been acting nervous lately.
Almonds are high in vitamin E and magnesium, both of which have been shown to promote mental and physical relaxation through the increase of serotonin and the reduction of cortisol. Most people stuff their dog’s Kong with peanut butter, but next time try almond butter if you’re looking for a snack that will help combat their anxiety problem. Almonds are also loaded in B vitamins and zinc, which help to boost immunity and protect your dog from all sorts of chronic illness.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Nervous
How do you know nervousness is really the problem that your dog is having? Unfortunately, it can be easy to mistake skin conditions and other irritations for nervousness. If your dog acts antsy, impatient, aggressive, afraid, or timid, they could be dealing with an anxiety problem that’s causing them to be overly nervous.
They may also scratch or chew their own hair out or engage in destructive acts such as scratching up walls or digging holes compulsively. If your dog shows any of these signs, be sure to put them on a diet rich in all of the above foods and you should see a noticeable improvement within a couple of weeks to a few months.