Pet Stress Relief Roanoke VA
By Donna Kelleher, D.V.M.
Q: My dog and cat both get very anxious during the holidays when we have lots of people visiting. How can I help them stay calm?
A: First things first: Keep an eye on your own stress level. Pets pick up on our anxiety, so if you meditate, do yoga, and switch from coffee to chamomile tea, it’s likely to have a soothing effect on your animals.
That said, you’re wise to be thinking about this before the season gets into full swing, so you can be sure to have the right remedies on hand.
I’ve found Rescue Remedy, one of the Bach flower remedies that combines essences of several different flowers, to work well for both cats and dogs. Try giving each of your pets 4 drops just before your guests arrive.
However, this may not be enough to help if a pet is seriously upset. For that, I’d recommend the group of herbs known as nervines; they include blue vervain leaves, skullcap, passionflower, and oatstraw. These will calm the nervous system as well as strengthen and balance it.
Combine a quarter-cup of one or any combination of the bulk leaves of those four herbs with 1 cup of chicken broth. Simmer on low heat for just a few minutes, cover, and cool. Strain off the solids and keep the broth. It will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and much longer in the freezer.
You might also try freezing it in the form of ice cubes; each cube will be a few days’ worth of broth. Give 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight two to three times a day. (Check first with your veterinarian, though, if your pet is on other medications.)
Valerian root also works well. For either a dog or a cat, try 70 milligrams per 10 pounds of body weight and see if it takes the edge off. Don’t use valerian, though, if your pet has any heart or blood pressure problems. I’ve never actually seen pets develop side effects, but some studies have shown it may raise their blood pressure.
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