9 Ways To Calm For Dog Anxiety – What Dog Owners Need To Know

Lakshmi Vemuri

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kimberly Langdon, MD

What Can I Give My Dog for Anxiety

Anxiety isn’t only human emotion, and our dogs can feel it too. In comparison, some instances are fleeting, like a brief response to fireworks or other loud noises. Other times, anxiety might be a long-term issue for your pup and might require medical assistance. 

Having the proper medication to assist your dog during this time could go a long way in improving their mood and reinforcing your bond. The right tools could help your dog manage anxiety and possibly prevent their condition from getting worse. 

This situation often leaves us wondering what medication we can give our dogs for anxiety.

How to Help Your Dog Handle Anxiety

Before we jump right into the best medication for your dog’s anxiety, it’s best practice to start with a visit to your vet. 

This step is essential because it helps you rule out other possible causes of your pet’s discomfort. Think of it as a way of identifying the root cause of your dog’s anxiety. 

Your pet’s vet would typically start with a physical exam followed by a few tests to make a diagnosis. This exam usually leads your vet to give you the best medication for your dog’s anxiety type and current health status.  

However, the work isn’t finished yet. Your pet might need some behavioral modification in addition to the prescription medication for the best results.  

These tools aren’t quick fixes, and you might need to stick to the behavioral program and medication for at least four weeks before observing improvements.

9 Best Medications for Dog Anxiety 

Here are some prescriptions that might answer your question: what can I give my dog for anxiety? 

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Buspirone
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Fluoxetine (Reconcile or Prozac)
  • Amitriptyline
  • Dexmedetomidine (Sileo)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)

Alprazolam (Xanax)

Vets often prescribe Alprazolam (Xanax) to help relieve moderate to severe situational anxiety in pets. If your dog develops anxiety during thunderstorms, you might go home with an Alprazolam prescription. 

It falls under the benzodiazepine group of sedatives. This drug class brings about its desired effects by suppressing specific parts of the brain.  

The effects of Alprazolam make it a choice anti-anxiety medication.  It also has applications as a muscle relaxer, sedative, and seizure suppressor. 

Your Alprazolam prescription typically comes as a pill that you could administer with food, depending on your vet’s instructions. 

Buspirone

Buspirone is an anxiolytic drug under the azaperone class. If your pet experiences generalized anxiety, especially in social settings, you might get a Buspirone prescription. 

As a mild anti-anxiety medication, Buspirone works by stimulating serotonin release, the feel-good brain chemical. 

However, don’t expect Buspirone to be a one-time solution to your pet’s anxiety. You would need to use it continuously to observe significant improvement in your pet. That’s why Buspirone might not be the best option if your dog faces anxiety during thunderstorms or other triggering situations. 

Diazepam (Valium)

Diazepam has multiple uses in pet healthcare. However, it’s most famous for its application in anxiety relief. It’s also effective for muscle relaxation, seizure control, and appetite stimulation. 

As a member of the benzodiazepine class,  Diazepam acts by depressing specific parts of the nervous system. 

Your vet might recommend Diazepam for your pet’s situational anxiety, especially if they have extreme noise aversion and phobias. 

Usually, your vet might recommend that you give your pet their diazepam dose right before the onset of a trigger. That means if your dog has severe noise aversion, a dose of diazepam right before the start of a thunderstorm would be a good idea. 

Diazepam can come in the form of oral tablets and liquids or administer as injections. 

Fluoxetine (Reconcile or Prozac)

Sometimes our dogs might experience severe separation anxiety each time we leave that professional help might be necessary. In that case, your vet might recommend Fluoxetine (Reconcile or Prozac).

It’s a member of the selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class and induces anti-anxiety effects by increasing serotonin levels.  

But you won’t have to stop there:

You might need to combine this Fluoxetine effect with behavioral modification programs to get the best results. You would find this combo particularly helpful if your dog displays behavior issues such as self-mutilation, aggression, compulsive chewing, and circling. 

Amitriptyline

For dogs displaying signs of generalized anxiety, including separation anxiety, Amitriptyline might provide relief. 

How does it work? Serotonin. 

You see, Amitriptyline is a Tricyclic antidepressant medication that works to improve mood by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters like noradrenaline and serotonin. 

A note of warning: If your dog has diabetes, you should look for other options. 

After a week of giving your dog Amitriptyline tablets with or without food, consider tapering off his dosage. 

Dexmedetomidine (Sileo)

Dexmedetomidine (Sileo) is an alpha-2 adrenoceptor agonist approved for dogs with situational anxiety and noise aversion. 

Like some other anti-anxiety medication, Dexmedetomidine acts by depressing the brain’s specific areas. 

You would notice better results when you administer the dose to your dog right before a triggering event. Dexmedetomidine usually comes in multidose gels that you apply to your dog’s cheeks and gums. You would need a pair of water-resistant disposable gloves to administer each dose. 

Lorazepam (Ativan)

Lorazepam (Ativan), like other members of the benzodiazepine class of medications,  acts by depressing specific areas of the brain. 

Whenever you can,  you should administer your dog’s Lorazepam dose before they encounter a trigger. You could also administer the dose at the onset of anxiety signs.  

Vets typically prescribe Lorazepam for pets with situational anxiety. It might come in oral tablet or liquid forms.  In some cases, your vet might administer the dose via injection or through other routes. 

Sertraline (Zoloft)

Sertraline (Zoloft) is another medication your vet might prescribe for your dog’s anxiety.  It can effectively improve generalized anxiety signs, such as fear-based aggression, separation anxiety, and noise phobia. 

As a member of the SSRI class of medications, Sertraline works by increasing specific neurotransmitters like serotonin. 

Sertraline typically comes as oral tablets or liquids that you can give to your dog with or without food. However, consider weaning your pet off it after about two months of consistent use. 

Paroxetine (Paxil)

If your dog displays anxiety by compulsive behaviors such as pulling out their fur or other self-mutilation behaviors, Paroxetine (Paxil) might help. 

Paroxetine, a member of the SSRI class of medications, helps reduce your dog’s anxiety signs by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin. 

This drug usually comes as oral tablets or liquids that you can administer to your dog with or without food. 

Alternative Ways to Handle Your Dog’s Anxiety 

Traditional medication isn’t the only way to help your fur babies handle their anxiety.

Behavior modification programs, as well as natural remedies, could augment your efforts with orthodox medicines.

Behavior Modification 

Helping your dog get desensitized to anxiety triggers could provide a lasting solution to your pet’s anxiety problems. These techniques focus on desensitization to triggers and counterconditioning.

Most times, pet parents carry out these behavior modification programs in addition to anxiety medication, especially in the beginning. 

An excellent way to help your dog handle separation anxiety would be to leave them for shorter durations repeatedly. You could also begin your routine right before you go out and stay in. These approaches could help your pet develop a better reaction to your exit.

Other behavior modification tools include eliminating punishment for separation-related behaviors and providing your dog with activities to engage in when you leave. 

CBD Oil 

CBD oil might be worth the try if you’re looking for natural remedies for your pet’s anxiety episodes.  Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, derived from the hemp plant, has no psychoactive properties but has been the focus of several studies for its potential health benefits. 

CBD oil has proven effective in reducing aggressive behaviors in dogs towards humans. This effect could be helpful if your dog shows anxiety-related aggressive behaviors. 

Essential Oils 

Many pet parents find that essential oils like violet and lavender are pretty effective for soothing an anxious pet. 

The trick: Dilute a blend of essential oils and spritz the mix in the air and on your dog’s bed.  

On no account should you apply undiluted essential oils directly on your pet.  You also don’t want your dog ingesting these oils.

Conclusion 

If you’re asking yourself, “what can I give my dog for anxiety?” you might find your answers at the Vet’s office. You might leave the vet’s office with a prescription for any of the following:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Buspirone
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Fluoxetine (Reconcile or Prozac)
  • Amitriptyline
  • Dexmedetomidine (Sileo)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)

Alternative anxiety relief techniques such as CBD oil and essential oils might prove helpful. 


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Lakshmi Vemuri

Medically reviewed by:

Kimberly Langdon

Lakshmi Vemuri holds a bachelor’s degree in Dentistry. She is also a published author of several Food and Wellness books. Lakshmi has a profound interest in alternative medicines, various forms of physical exercise, mental health, diets, and new inventions in medical sciences. Besides being a dentist, Lakshmi is passionate about gardening and is an environmental enthusiast

Medically reviewed by:

Kimberly Langdon

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