If you’ve ever wondered whether there is a best food for dogs with anxiety, one vet has some ideas for you to consider.
Separation anxiety is quite natural for many dogs. It’s natural because it doesn’t take a genius to work out that most dogs like to spend most of their time with us. When we go away, they’re sad. The major difference between levels of separation anxiety is dependent on just how our dogs convey their sadness.
Some dogs will go to sleep and simply wait for us to return. Others, well, they get really stressed and they show it with any number of anxiety exhibiting behaviours.
This common problem – that sees stressed pets display many anti-social behaviours in a cry for attention – is going to be even more heightened in the coming weeks due to the months of working from home that the country has had since lockdown.
However, one veterinary expert has come up with an innovative solution to relax anxious family pets – and it’s entirely natural.
Joe Inglis, known to TV viewers from Vets in Practice, Blue Peter, The One Show and This Morning as well as the author of several pet books, has studied animal nutrition for many years.
And he recommends turning to popular calming HERBS such as chamomile and valerian to ‘take the edge off’ distressed dogs this September.
Joe explains: “This is an understandable situation for our pets – after so many months of daily security and companionship, they face suddenly being left alone again.
“Separation anxiety can be a big problem for pets, and especially dogs. In the wild, they’re very rarely on their own, they live in packs.
“The condition manifests itself through a range of undesirable behaviours, that all pet owners will recognise, such as a constant loud barking that drives neighbours wild, chewing furniture or going to the toilet where they shouldn’t.
“These are all cries for attention from scared animals.
“The veterinary profession has lots of behavioural strategies in place for pet owners to deal with this situation.
The main one is to avoid making too big a fuss or either your departure from or arrival back to the house. By making a big fuss, you leave your pet thinking this is a big deal and as a result their anxiety becomes worse the next time it happens.
“There are also tips around diet for pets who are going through separation anxiety, mostly concerning lowering the amount of protein in meals.
“However, calming herbs also can have a role to play in relaxing your pet at this time.
I’ve been interested in this for a while. While working as a vet, we could prescribe chemicals to sedate pets who were behaving out of character due to separation anxiety. However, these are not a long term or a natural solution.
Looking for the best food for dogs with anxiety
“So, I started looking into herbal remedies and what would work to ‘take the edge off’. It’s hard to get inside a dog’s head, but they are mammals like us and social creatures like us.
“It is proven that chamomile and valerian are two herbs that can have calming effects. So, I started including these in recipes and the calming effects are noticeable.
“Different dogs will respond differently, but in the same way that a human having a cup of chamomile tea will relax, your dog will notice the benefits of such meals.”
A great food for dogs with anxiety
Joe – founder of the home cooking for pets website vetchef.co.uk – has shared a simple ‘calming chicken’ recipe here for dog owners to try, that includes both chamomile and valerian.
Joe says: “Home cooking is beneficial for both pet and owner. If you have gone back to work in your office again, you are losing some daily time you’ve been spending with your pet – so make up for it by cooking together.
“People think there’s too much hassle around home cooking for your pet, or that you won’t get the nutrition right, but there are simple recipes to follow to get it right And trust me, it’s a big reward for a small time investment.”
For more recipes and information on cooking at home for your pet, go to www/vetchef.co.uk
Best food for dogs with separation anxiety
RECIPE: VetChef Calming Chicken Chow (Great food for dogs with anxiety)
This delicious home-cooked meal is the ideal recipe to soothe and calm anxious dogs. When you’re looking for the best food for dogs with anxiety, this scores highly because it has low levels of protein, which can help to reduce anxiety, and calming herbs chamomile and valerian.
· 300g chicken (or turkey) mince
· 200g rice
· 100g spinach
· 3g calcium supplement*
· 1 tbsp dried chamomile flowers (or one chamomile teabag)
· ½ tsp valerian extract
Add the chicken, rice and spinach to a saucepan and pour over just enough water to cover the ingredients. Bring to the boil, and then turn down the heat very low and simmer gently for around 15 minutes with the lid on until the rice is cooked. Drain off any remaining water and allow to cool to body temperature. Sprinkle on the chamomile, mix in the valerian (and calcium if using) and serve.
This recipe provides 1000kcal of energy, which is enough for an average 16kg dog for one day, so you can scale the quantities up or down as required for your dog.
* Calcium supplement is only required if you’re feeding this meal regularly – if you’re feeding occasionally and your dog is eating a complete diet otherwise, then you don’t need to worry about it.