When it comes to our much-loved pets, caring for them is at the forefront of everything we do. As well as giving them lots of cuddles and sometimes admittedly endless treats, if your pooch suffers from anxiety during occasions the first port of call is to make them as comfortable as possible.
With the festive season looming, getting prepared in advance is a great idea particularly if they do find the sound of fireworks overwhelming.
There's nothing worse than seeing your beloved companion in fear, so we want to do all we can to help. While we might not be able to cure their fear the way we’d like to, we can invest in remedies that help keep them calm and reassure them that everything will be okay.
Furthermore, if your pet struggles with separation anxiety, aggression, or stress while travelling, these remedies could help them out with those issues, too.
How do I know if my pet is anxious?
As a pet owner, you'll probably already be aware of what makes your pet anxious and how they act when they are feeling uneasy. Some things like separation, phobias and illness or injury are well-known to cause anxiety in dogs. Here are some signs that may indicate your pet is feeling stressed:
• Trying to escape
• Tucking-their tail between their legs
• Being lethargic
• Seeking comfort and affection
• Barking and howling excessively
• Destructive tendencies
• Decreased appetite
• Digestive issues
What to do if your pet is anxious
If you suspect your pet has anxiety, the first port of call should always be your vet. They can try to pinpoint the trigger for the anxiety and rule out if it is something more serious before suggesting a course of action.
If you've spoken to your vet and are now looking for some at-home remedies for anxiety in your pet, here are some popular and useful options. You'll find dog calming products such as calming pet beds and plug-ins, plus cat calming products like compression shirts and supplements.
Always consult a vet before undertaking any pet treatments.
Calming products for dogs and cats
Calming Pet Bed
Best calming pet bed
The simplest way to calm your pets down is to invest in a bed that makes them feel safe. These pet calming beds are designed to provide a cosy nest for your dog or cat, protecting them from the outside world.
|• Self-warming and easy to clean||• Not suitable for larger pets and dogs with excessive teething|
|• Non-slip and waterproof bottom|
|• Supports a deep sleep to relieve anxiety|
|Size:||Available in M, L and XL (M – 50x20cm, L – 60x20cm, XL – 70x20cm)|
|Colour:||Available in brown, grey, dark grey, pink and beige|
|Item weight:||660 g|
|Care instructions:||Machine or hand wash and tumble dry|
Lintbells YuCALM for Dogs
Best calming supplements
Lintbells is well-known for its YuMOVE supplements, so it's no wonder that YuCALM also has lots of happy customers. These natural supplement tablets contain L-theanine, B vitamins, natural fish protein hydrolysate and lemon balm to soothe your pooch, and begin to take effect after a few weeks. Also available for cats.
|• Suitable to use both long and short term||• Some reviewers said it took a while to kick in|
|• Safe and all-natural to reduce stress|
|• A special blend that calms and eases anxiety|
|Pet type:||Dogs – all life stages|
|Care instructions:||Keep in a dry place|
|Features:||Allergen-free, flavoured, natural product and includes treats|
Pet Remedy Natural Stress Diffuser
Best calming plug-in
One of the most well-known ways to calm your pets is by using a pet calming plug-in. Simply plug it in and let the blend of valerian, vetiver and other essential oils go to work. It's ideal for pets including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, rodents and birds. You can also pick up refills of the remedy to ensure you're always stocked up.
|• Clinically proven and easy to use||• Can make some pet owners feel light-headed|
|• Starts to help immediately||• Some reviewers said they did not enjoy the smell it emitted|
|• Helps your pet become more attentive to you|
|Pet type:||Dogs and cats – all breeds and life stages|
|Coverage:||Up to 60m2/650sq ft (large room)|
Feliway Classic Diffuser
Best calming plug-in for cats
If you're looking for a diffuser specifically designed for cats, Feliway is one of the top brands on the market. It contains the natural pheromone a cat releases when they rub up against something to mark an area as safe and secure and is recommended by vets and animal charities. Don't forget to add refills to your basket, too!
|• Scentless and species specific - no effect on humans or other pets||• Some reviewers said it can take a week or so to kick in|
|• Trusted - used by vets, charities and behaviourists|
|• Super simple to use|
|Coverage:||Covers 50-70 m2|
Anti-Anxiety Dog Jacket
Best anti-anxiety dog jacket
For some dogs, nothing soothes them like a cuddle from their owner. Similar to swaddling an infant or using a weighted blanket, anxiety jackets apply gentle, constant pressure to calm pets and make them feel safe.
|• A natural and chemical-free wrap to ease symptoms of anxiety||• Stretches with wear - size down for a snug fit for longer|
|• Durable and machine washable material makes it super easy to care for|
|• Easy to wear and carry - without any complicated straps or buckles|
|Size:||Available in S, M, L, XL|
|Item weight:||80 kg|
|Care instructions:||Machine wash|
Calming Cat Vest
Best calming cat vest
With three sizes available to suit your cat perfectly, this calming cat vest also uses pressure to soothe cats and is an effective anxiety solution, according to vets.
|• Great for storms, separation, travel and many other anxieties||• Sizing comes up small – reviewers suggest going up a size|
|• Most effective anxiety solution as voted by veterinarians|
|• Easy to clean, easy to use and adjustable|
|Size:||Available in S, M, L|
|Item weight:||120 g|
|Care instructions:||Machine wash|
Calming Collar for Dogs and Cats
Best calming collar
Available for dogs and cats, these calming collars work by releasing valerian and lavender to relax your dog and begin working within an hour. Great for travelling or occasions where they need a little chill-out time, one collar should last up to six weeks before it needs replacing.
|• Ideal for travelling||• Sizing comes up small – reviewers suggest going up a size|
|• Effectively reduces problem behaviour|
|• Provides up to six weeks cover|
|Pet type:||Dogs – all life stages|
|Size:||65 cm adjustable collar|
|Item weight:||40 g|
ADAPTIL Calm On-the-Go Collar
Best non-herbal calming collar
If herbal scents aren't your bag, this collar contains a synthetic copy of the 'dog appeasing pheromone' which a mother naturally releases to calm her litter. Totally scentless for humans, it's specific for dogs, is trusted by vets and each collar lasts around a month.
|• Scentless and species specific - no effect on humans or other pets||• The collar will not release pheromones if your dog is wet|
|• Scientifically proven, studies to support all claims||• A short-term solution for up to a month|
|• Trusted - used by vets, charities and behaviourists|
|Pet type:||Dogs – all life stages|
|Size:||Medium/large adjustable - fits neck up to 62.5 cm|
|Item weight:||59 g|
|Features:||Natural product, non-irritating, veterinary approved, easy to use and adjustable|
Dermadog Hush Calming Spray
Best natural calming spray
This 100% natural blend of essentials oils works alongside your dog's natural relaxation pathways to help calm their nerves and relieve anxiousness and stress. It's infused with lavender, chamomile and sage, it acts quickly and can be used in a variety of situations. Suitable for dogs and puppies from eight weeks old.
|• Paraben-free and all-natural stress reducer||• Some pups may not enjoy the smell|
|• Approved by vets|
|• Fast-acting and effective|
|Pet type:||Suitable for dogs and puppies from 8 weeks old|
|Ingredients:||Anthemis nobilis, salvia sclarea, lavandula angustifolia* purified water and vitamin E|
Pet Remedy Calming Spray
Best for using on-the-go
Perfect for travelling, Pet Remedy's pet calming spray can be used pretty much anywhere. Safe for the skin and coat of the animal, it can be rubbed on their chest or muzzle, or sprayed on to their beds. Suitable for dogs, cats, rodents and horses, it begins working immediately and can last for two to six hours, depending on your pet.
|• Starts to help instantly and lasts 2-6 hours depending on pet||• Slightly unpleasant smell to pet owners|
|• Helps pet become more attentive and receptive to you|
|• Easy to use trigger spray|
|Pet type:||Dogs and cats – all life stages|
|Features:||Water based, pH neutral formula, and is safe on skin and coat of pet|
Calming Spot on for Dogs
Best calming spot-on treatment
If collars, sprays or tablets aren't your dog's preference, perhaps a spot-on treatment would be more effective. Similar to flea treatments, the pipette is applied between the ears, once a week and is said to last the week. The product activates within one hour of application and the pack contains three pipettes.
|• Easy-to-use spot-on treatment||• Only three weeks cover in one box|
|• A natural way to calm your pet in stressful situations|
|• Product activated within one hour of application|
|• A single application will calm your dog for up to one week|
|Size:||1 ml per pipette|
|Box contains:||Three pipettes|
Itch Calm for Dogs and Cats
Best calming monthly subscription
If your pet suffers from anxiety all year round, not just on bonfire night, subscribing to a service like Itch Pet could be a great option for you in terms of saving money. Itch Calm is available as an add-on to the Itch Flea subscription, meaning you can take care of all your pets needs with one parcel each month.
|• Expertly created to help ease anxiety in cats and dogs who need to chill||• We can’t find any!|
|• Sprinkle capsule for easy administration|
|• Helps pets to manage anxiety, support natural calming pathways and enjoy a calm and happy home|
|• Includes calcium and magnesium to support the nervous system and muscle contraction|
|Pet type:||Dogs and cats|
|Size:||60 or 90 capsules|
|Ingredients:||L-tryptophan, calcium aspartate, magnesium aspartate, valerian root extract, ashwagandha extract, catnip extract, l-theanine, magnesium stearate, talc, silica, rice flour|
Dermadog Calm Nourishing Balm
Best calming balm
If your dog has any irritated spots from licking, scratching or biting, this natural nourishing balm helps to soothe it and get them back to feeling their best selves.
|• 100% natural with organic essential oils||• Must use within six months of opening|
|• Gentle, soothing and calming formula that relieves and protects|
|• Great for soothing skin folds, sores, dry/itchy spots, and grazes|
|Ingredients:||Cera alba, mangifera indica, butyrospermum parkii, prunus amygdalus dulcis, pelargonium graveolens, lavandula angustifolia, leptospermum scoparium (organic origin)|
Scrumbles Nibbles Calming Dog Treats
Best calming treats
Scrumbles Nibbles Calming Dog Treats are made from natural, responsibly-sourced ingredients so you know you're only giving your dog the best. Made with lemon balm and chamomile, these calming turkey treats are perfect to ease anxious dogs and soothe your pooch naturally. The hypoallergenic recipe means they're free from common allergens such as grain, wheat and gluten.
|• 100% natural||• We can't find any!|
|• Tasty and functional|
|Ingredients:||30% Turkey, Sweet Potato, Gram Flour, Cold pressed rapeseed oil, Chamomile 0.5%, Lemon Balm 0.5%, Slippery Elm 0.1%, Glucosamine 0.1%|
How to treat separation anxiety in dogs
In light of the easing of government restrictions, ProDog Raw consulted with animal behaviourist Bryony Cole from Eye to Eye Dogs, to create a guide for owners on how to avoid separation anxiety in their dogs.
Five tips to prepare a dog to be left alone:
1. Test runs
Dogs and owners will have fully adjusted to working from home life by now and trial runs are recommended before returning to the office. Run through a typical morning routine with the dog and start by leaving them in the house for five minutes and then slowly build up the duration.
2. A brisk walk
Taking a dog out for a brisk walk before leaving for work in the morning helps to burn off any excess energy and puts them in the mood to relax - a 45-minute walk is the minimum required for most breeds if they’re being left indoors alone for a significant amount of time.
3. Find a trusted dog walker to break up the day
Whether it is a family member, friend, or professional dog walker, it is a good idea to have a reliable person check in on the dog during the day to give them the opportunity to get some fresh air, exercise, and relieve themselves. Ideally, dogs will not be left alone for longer than six hours and puppies shouldn’t be left alone for more than two hours. If a dog walker is too expensive to use regularly, sites like Borrow my Doggy connect dog lovers with families whose pet needs attention/walking.
4. Rotate toys
When home alone, try to rotate the dog’s toys day-to-day, to give them a different experience and reduce the chances of them getting bored.
5. Separate dog into a separate room while WFH
While still working from home, spend periods of the day with the dog shut in a different room to test how they behave while separated. This should get them used to being away from their owner and can help build up their tolerance for isolation. Like with the test runs, the duration of time should be increased each time from five to ten minutes.
What to do if your dog is scared of fireworks
Canine behaviour expert Kirsten Dillon, in partnership with premium raw pet food brand Natural Instinct, has some handy tips for fireworks season.
Kirsten explains, "Fireworks are a dog’s worst nightmare! With more people celebrating at home, it is likely there will be an increase in loud bangs from different places to terrify our dogs. We’d urge people to consider other ways to enjoy the festivities that don’t involve setting off fireworks in the back garden."
"It’s important to make sure your dog feels as safe as possible. There are lots of simple ways to do this, such as closing the windows and curtains to muffle the sounds, but there are also more unusual things you can try to help them stay relaxed and calm. Clinical research shows that reggae is the most effective musical style to soothe and calm dogs, while other studies show that audiobooks of Roald Dahl stories have had similar effects!"
Kristen's top tips for keeping your dog calm during fireworks:
• Create a safe haven. Look at where they choose to hide and turn that place into a soundproof, darkened escape, whether that’s the downstairs toilet or under the stairs!
• Play some reggae music. Clinical studies have proven that reggae sounds will help soothe and calm anxious dogs.
• Play an audiobook such as Roald Dahl stories. Studies have also shown that audiobooks can help create a calm atmosphere with Roald Dahl stories being the top pick for dogs.
• Give your dog Sileo. Sileo is proven to be very effective and easy to administer at home to help dogs with noise aversion. However, please do consult your vet or another professional beforehand for advice and guidance, and make sure you read and follow the instructions carefully.
• Try plug-in diffusers, thunder shirts or pet remedies. Plug-ins typically use pheromones with de-stressing properties, while thunder shirts provide gentle constant pressure known to have relaxing effects. Pet remedies such as a calming supplement are also reported to help relieve anxiety. Once again, please consult your vet or another professional beforehand if you have any concerns, and always read and follow instructions carefully.
• Use something to mask the smell of fireworks. Cordite is a trigger just as much as flashes and noises, so finding a way to cover up the smell will also help.
What to read next:
Jade Moscrop is the Deputy Editor for WhatsTheBest, specialising in lifestyle topics. She also writes for Closer, Heat, and Mother&Baby.
Subscribe to the What’s The Best Newsletter to keep up to date with more of the latest reviews and recommendations from Jade and the rest of the What’s The Best team.