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These are the best calming treats to ease your dog's anxiety, according to a vet

If your pup struggles with fireworks, thunderstorms or being alone, these tried-and-true buys may help.

These are the best calming treats to ease your dog's anxiety, according to a vet

If your dog hides during fireworks, barks when it storms or cries when you leave, you may have an anxious pup on your hands. I have one of my own, and we're working with a trainer to help him with his separation anxiety. Still, when we realized training wasn't enough, we enlisted our vet to help us try a few calming dog treats, gadgets and eventually, medication.

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If you think your dog could use a dose of zen, check in with your own vet to see what they recommend. I keep seeing calming supplements everywhere, so I recently turned to an expert to ask about them.

Dr. Ben Jankovitz, a veterinarian with VCA Animal Hospital Urgent Care in Oceanside, California, says calming supplements can be a safe option for anxious dogs. "They typically include natural ingredients like amino acids, vitamins and herbal extracts aimed at easing anxiety," he says. "I find that these products help best with mild general anxiety, and can be a good addition to your pet's anti-anxiety plan."

Jankovitz adds: "However, it's worth noting that not every dog's stomach will tolerate these products and GI upset has been noted. Additionally, certain ingredients could interact with other medications or your dog's existing health conditions." So if your dog is already taking prescription medication, it's even more important to chat with your vet before giving them any supplements.

Some common ingredients found in dog calming treats and supplements include melatonin and CBD. Jankovitz says melatonin is generally considered safe, and early studies suggest CBD may be beneficial, but there's more research to be done.

"The market is largely unregulated, leading to significant variations in the quality and concentration of these products," he says about CBD. "While research in human medicine shows CBD can help with anxiety symptoms, the absence of federal regulation means there is little to no quality control in the production of CBD-containing products. Use caution if you choose to use these products, as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of cannabis, can cause serious gastrointestinal and neurological side effects that may require hospitalization."

Jankovitz says he's had "success with L-tryptophan and L-theanine-containing products with my pets for general anxiety." These amino acids help the body produce serotonin, a feel-good hormone that regulates mood and sleep cycle. Two products, Solliquin and Composure Pro, contain these plus other ingredients, Jankovitz adds.

While calming supplements may help your dog's general anxiety long term, they may not be enough during situations like fireworks or thunderstorms. That's because a lot of these ingredients take time to work — you may have to give them to your dog consistently for a while before seeing results. For situational fears, you can talk to your vet (far in advance is best) about a prescription sedative or medication.

"I know the thought of sedating your pet can be nerve-racking, but rest assured that at standard dosing, these medications are very safe and incredibly effective at relieving your pet's anxiety during stressful times," Jankovitz says. "My personal preference is a combination of Trazodone and Gabapentin. The sedating effects of Trazodone, coupled with the anxiety-relieving qualities of Gabapentin, yields excellent results, ensuring your beloved furry friend remains calm and secure."

Below, you can shop some tried-and-true calming supplements and treats. You'll also find a couple of calming aids that your dog doesn't have to ingest.

Solliquin's main ingredient is L-tryptophan. There are chews in two sizes for dogs and cats, depending on their weight. Follow the instructions to determine how much to give your pet.

$20 at Amazon

Composure Pro contains both of the ingredients Jankovitz says works for his pets (L-tryptophan and L-theanine), and it can be given to both dogs and cats experiencing anxiety.  

$35 at Amazon

Native Pet specializes in dog supplements using whole foods, and according to my own pup, they taste pretty great. Its Calm chews contain L-theanine and 5 milligrams of melatonin. If you've never given your dog melatonin, talk to your vet or start with half a dose. 

$15 at Amazon
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$15 at Petco

Toys and puzzles can also help put your dog at ease. "Items like Kongs filled with treats or food puzzles can distract dogs and keep them engaged, which can help reduce anxiety by providing mental stimulation," Jankovitz says.

Woof's Calming Wellness Pops contain L-tryptophan and magnesium packaged in a treat that's designed to fit into the brand's refillable Pupsicle toy.

$20 at Amazon

These treats contain simple ingredients like honey, banana, oat flour and calming chamomile. They're like your pup having a cup of tea before bedtime.

$8 at Amazon

If you don't feel comfortable giving your dog a calming treat or want to supplement their anxiety medication, this calming pheromone diffuser might be worth a try.

"These diffusers emit a synthetic version of the dog-appeasing pheromone, thought to create a soothing environment," Jankovitz says. "Research has demonstrated their effectiveness in reducing stress-related behaviors in dogs. They can be a great addition to your long-term anxiety treatment plan but likely won't be sufficient in situations of acute stress."

$24 at Amazon

This one may sound silly, but tight-fitting Thundershirts have been proven to help alleviate anxiety in some dogs. Think of it like a weighted blanket that your pup can't shake off. Don't worry — they come in sizes up to XXL for even the biggest anxious pets.

"The pressure supplied can help release endorphins that promote a sense of calm in pets. These are a fantastic addition to any plan for helping your pet feel less anxious," Jankovitz says.

$40 at Amazon
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$40 at Petco