Trips to the vet or groomers, separation anxiety, thunderstorms and new additions to the family can all bring on stress and anxiety to dogs and cats. This stress can lead to unwanted behavior such as excessive barking, destructive chewing or scratching, marking and aggression. 

In many cases, you can correct the bad behavior by eliminating the cause or changing the environment.
  • If a dog is digging holes or barking excessively, he may be telling you he’s bored and needs more stimulation or exercise. 
  • If your cat suddenly begins urinating outside the litter box, she may be suffering from a urinary tract infection. 
Address any medical issues first and then look at trying to change bad behavior with behavior modification techniques. Natural calming aids can be used along with behavior modification training. Like many people, a pet is more receptive to learning when they are in a calm state. 

The following herbs, amino acids, vitamins and other nutrients can have a calming effect on dogs and cats: 
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is considered an "anti-stress" vitamin because of its ability to enhance the activity of the immune system and improve the body's ability to withstand stressful conditions.
  • Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that has been found to increase brain levels of serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter and/or melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Studies with humans and animals have shown that serotonin nerve circuits promote feelings of well-being, calm, personal security, relaxation, confidence and concentration. 
  • Valerian is known for its calming effect and is frequently used in connection with nervousness, anxiety, nervous restlessness, anxiety-induced illness or upset stomach. 
  • L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and has been extensively researched for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety and unwanted behavior. It helps the body to produce other calming amino acids such as Dopamine, GABA and Tryptophan. Studies done on L-Theanine showed that dogs had reduced anxiety-related behavior without adverse effects or drowsiness. 
  • Colostrum has a calming effect on animals by supporting cognitive function and promoting relaxation. 
  • Chamomile has a wide variety of uses including for pets with nervousness and anxiety. Chamomile's high content of the amino acid tryptophan has been used for sleeplessness and insomnia for hundreds of years. It is commonly used to calm the nerves, reduce anxiety and induce a state of pleasant relaxation without disrupting normal function or interfering with motor coordination. It is also an anti-inflammatory herb that has antimicrobial properties (for pets with skin infections) and for its ability to heal wounds. 
  • Passion Flower contains several flavonoids that exhibit a sedative effect on the central nervous system. Chrysin, a monoflavonoid, affects the central receptors of the brain and the combination of flavonoids act as an anxiolytic which helps to promote relaxation, soothe tension and relieve occasional anxiety and panic caused by emotional stress.

Look for one or more of these ingredients when you are considering a natural calming aid for your pet.