It can be hard to soothe our furry family members when they are experiencing pain or feeling anxious. When they are anxious, they may be pacing, cowering, or exhibiting obsessive behaviors like licking, whining, or jumping. When they are in pain, they may be irritable, lethargic, or needy. Because humans and dogs can’t communicate effectively with each other, it can be hard to find solutions. Though there are some medications to treat issues with pain and anxiety, some have problematic side effects. While some dogs do need those medications, others may react positively to natural remedies, instead.
The first step is always to consult your veterinarian to address your dog’s health-management needs. They can discuss the best solutions for your pet’s pain and anxiety to make sure they aren’t suffering. It’s also helpful to understand if your dog is high-risk for these ailments in order to prepare for their needs. Oftentimes, natural health supplements can help with feelings of pain and anxiety. You can also practice soothing techniques, creating a safe space, and helping them exercise in a way that can offer relief.
Check With Your Vet
If you notice your dog may be experiencing pain, it’s important to talk to your vet right away. Your dog may not show pain in an obvious way, so it’s good practice to take your dog to the vet if they are exhibiting any new behavior. Your vet may prescribe a pain relief medication in order to help them feel comfortable, but it’s okay to ask about natural remedies if you’re concerned about potential side effects. Some behaviors that could mean your dog is in pain include:
- Increased Urination: Frequent urination could be a sign of a bladder infection, kidney failure, or an allergy.
- Obsessive Grooming: Dogs tend to lick areas that hurt them.
- Aggression: Pain can cause a dog to feel threatened, so a newly aggressive dog should be taken to the vet.
- Insomnia: Just like people, dogs find it hard to sleep when they are in pain.
- Loss of Appetite: A disinterest in food could mean they are experiencing pain or feeling sick.
If you realize certain triggers are causing your dog to feel anxious, you should talk to your vet about potential remedies or rule out any serious health issues that could be causing your dog to feel this way. Some behaviors that could mean your dog is anxious include:
- Compulsions: Compulsive over-grooming, pacing, or jumping could be a sign your dog is feeling anxious.
- Hiding: An anxious dog may hide under something or curl into a ball.
- Aggression: If a dog is suddenly aggressive, it may be a sign of anxiety.
- Barking: Excessive barking and howling is a sign of anxiety in dogs.
- Chewing: Chewing furniture, bedding, or other household items could be a sign of an anxious dog.
Identifying Risk Factors
Some risk factors for dogs who may experience pain or anxiety have to do with their breed, age, background, and health history. Identifying some of these risk factors can help you to prepare for the possibility of your dog experiencing these issues and how to help them. For example, some dogs may be more prone to anxiety depending on their breed. Working breeds may become anxious without enrichment and exercise. A dog who has experienced neglect or abuse will be more susceptible to separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, feeling overwhelmed around a lot of people, etc. Identifying these risk factors can help prepare you for the possibility of treating them for anxiety.
Older dogs experience a lot of health problems that can cause pain. Dogs who have health issues may also be more susceptible to pain than healthier dogs. Things like arthritis, dental issues, and injuries can result in your dog experiencing pain. Knowing this can help you, and your vet keeps an eye out for signs that your dog is hurting and help you to make a plan for pain management.
If you and your vet have decided that your pet’s pain isn’t so severe that it requires prescription pain medication, or that the side effects are problematic for your dog’s health, you may try looking into natural health supplements for pain. Similarly, if you’ve decided you want to try a natural remedy for their anxiety, there are some natural methods you can try.
- St. John’s Wort: St. John’s wort can help reduce pain in the muscles, joints, and nerve endings and is applied topically.
- Cayenne: The cayenne herb has capsaicin which can block pain receptors and increase circulation. There are cayenne creams you can apply topically.
- Turmeric: This anti-inflammatory has a similar effect to cortisone and can be fed to dogs by adding it to their food.
- CBD oil: CBD oil has anxiety relief and pain relief properties. It can be added to their food or purchased as a treat. Just be sure it’s CBD oil meant for dogs that doesn’t contain any THC.
- Chamomile: Chamomile is an herb that works as a sedative. You can use it as a tea that you can pour into their water, or in the form of a calming spray to apply topically.
- Lavender: Lavender has calming properties. You can apply lavender to your dog topically as an essential oil.
Another natural remedy to help your dog with pain or anxiety is just to be near them. Again, if your dog is in severe pain, it’s not enough to be near them — they need to visit the vet. Otherwise, for many dogs, their owner’s presence is calming for them. For dogs experiencing anxiety, your affection can help them to cope and may calm them even better than many medications or natural supplements. Our animals offer us many positive mental health effects, and we have the ability to offer the same to them.
You might try sleeping with your pup in your bed in order to help them stay calm at night or if they are feeling anxious. Not only can this help them, but it can also be beneficial for you as well. If they are triggered by something making them anxious, like fireworks or visitors, stick close to them, so they feel safe. If you notice your dog is experiencing pain, you can try sitting with them and speaking in positive tones so that they begin to feel calm. You might even try petting them or massaging problem areas. Just be aware that not all dogs feel calmed by their owner and may get aggressive under these circumstances, so use caution.
Creating a Safe Space
Many dogs feel much more at ease when they’re experiencing pain or anxiety when they can retreat to their own space to feel safe. Help your dog feel safe by creating this space for them in your home. This area should be only theirs, filled with their scent, and away from overwhelming sounds or stimulus. Often this safe space can be exactly what a dog needs, which is a natural remedy that can mimic a dog’s natural extinct to be in a den.
- Kennel Training: Proper crate training is important in making sure your dog associates their crate with comfort. Once you’ve done this correctly, your dog can retreat to this space whenever they need.
- A Comfy Bed: A comfortable bed can help dogs who experience pain due to arthritis, sore muscles, or injury.
- Practicing Avoidance: If you know your dog’s trigger, you can use their safe space to help them avoid the thing that causes pain or anxiety.
- The Power of Music: In your dog’s safe space, you might try to play music in order to promote feelings of peace. An added perk is that it can also help to drown out anxiety-inducing sounds in or around your home.
Exercise is a great natural remedy for your dog who experiences pain or anxiety. If dogs were to create a list of self-care activities to help their mental health, exercise would be on there. Dogs love to run, complete tasks and explore the world around them. For dogs who experience pain, it’s important to find ways to exercise that won’t exacerbate their discomfort. Swimming is a great option for dogs who experience arthritis or other similar ailments.
Exercise can also help dogs who are anxious. It taps into their natural instincts, allows them to interact with you, and expands their energy. Because so many dogs feel anxious as a result of boredom or a lack of enrichment, exercise can really help to reduce anxiety and the side effects that result from it. For example, if your dog is destructive when they are left alone, it may help to play a few minutes of fetch with them before you leave.
Just because your dog is experiencing pain or anxiety doesn’t mean they should immediately be put on a prescription medication that could have harmful side effects. However, it’s also important to note that natural remedies don’t always work for extreme cases and it’s not okay to leave your pet in pain if they need to be medicated. Talking to your vet about your dog’s needs should always be your first step. In terms of natural remedies, there are many options that may work for your pooch. Natural supplements, providing them with attention, creating a safe place for them, and providing them with sufficient enrichment and exercise are all natural remedies for pain and anxiety that can help your dog live a happier life.