Jun 10

Calming Supplements...what really works?

There are various calming supplements on the market that are formulated specifically for dogs. The problem is - many don't work!  I'd like to share with you about a few products that I have found effective through the years, on varying types of dogs.

Pet-Ease is a product which contains two calming amino acids - L-taurine (20 mg per tablet) and L-tryptophan (10 mg per tab), along with some calming herbs. This product is easy to use, because it comes in a tasty chewable tab. We kept our fearful rescue, who was practically feral when we captured her, on it for several months when she first came here and felt it really made a difference for her.  Many of my clients have chosen this product over others simply because it is easy to use (most dogs will eat it like a treat) and it is formulated specifically for dogs.


If you prefer to purchase human quality supplements, or would like individual ingredient products so that you can give your dog a higher amount of the supplement, look for products that contain either the B vitamin niacinamide (nicotinamade) or the amino acid taurine (2-aminoesthanesulfonic acid). These are the individual ingredients I have used through the years that have proven most effective on over-reactive dogs.  Niacinamide is a form of B-3 that works in the central nervous system by attaching to some of the same receptors as do anti-anxiety medications in the benzodiazepine family. Like many supplements, it should be given with food to decrease any chance of nausea. If your dog does exhibit nausea (drooling, or lack of appetite), simply discontinue use for 24 hours, then start back with a reduced dosage.


Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in red meat. Its positive effect on dopamine levels makes it ideal for calming hyperactive or anxiety-prone dogs. People often use taurine supplements to promote relaxation and build muscle tone.  Supplementing with small amounts of taurine and niacinamide can help take the edge off of an anxious dog, making them better able to learn and accept gradual socialization or desensitization programs. Taurine is my favorite for dogs with fear issues that involve aggressive displays. Our dogs that are on commercial diets are probably all a tad lacking in amino acids (think about the high amounts of amino acids they would receive if eating a raw meat diet, there really is no way to exactly duplicate that in a commercial dry dog food). Perhaps the increase in high quality amino acids is the reason many people see a change in behavior when they switch their dogs to a raw diet, or to homecooked diets that contain very little or no grain. If you are interested in the subject of a more natural diet, there are many books on the subject, but one that I particularly like is Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats by Kymythy Schultze.

You can find these products in our Knowing Dogs Amazon store by simply clicking on the blue highlighted links above, or you can look for them at your favorite health food store. In addition to calming supplements, I nearly always recommend dog appeasing pheremone products for fearful dogs.


What about flower essences or products such as Rescue Remedy?  I have not found them helpful for dogs with high levels of anxiety, but they may be helpful in other situations. I would love to hear from you in the comment section, regarding what you have tried, and your thoughts on what works, and what does not.

If you are working with a fearful dog, you can find many helpful suggestions in our affordable dog ebook, Healing the Broken Heart...How to Rehab a Fearful Dog. Click on this link and you can have this valuable material downloaded to your computer in just minutes. As always, I am available via email, at no charge, for anyone who purchases a dog ebook through www.knowingdogs.com.

Disclaimer:  I am not a veterinarian, so if your dog is on medications or you have any concerns about the safety of any supplement for your particular dog, check with your veterinarian. Keep in mind that traditional veterinarians are required to have very little training in canine nutrition, but a holistic practitioner tends to be more knowledgeable in this area. I do not personally use a holistic veterinarian, because there is not one in my area, but I have done a good bit of reading on the value of niacinamide and taurine supplements, so this, along with trial and error through the years, is the reason that they are the supplements I most often recommend. But if in doubt (due to any medical condition your dog may have), then always check with your personal veterinarian!

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Comments (9)
  • Joni  - Calming supplements

    Thanks for this information, Melanie! That is very useful. I have used Rescue Remedy before, to try to "take the edge off", but am not really positive that it helped a lot. Such a hard thing to judge sometimes! So you think the Pet-Ease really made a difference with your rescue?

    Thanks again.

  • Melanie S

    Hi Joni, yes, I do think Pet Ease made a difference with Annie. She had reached a certain point and seemed to be "stuck". Within just a week or so of being on it, we noticed she started being more comfortable around Rick & Eric (up to that point, I was the only one she would approach). I think it definitely took the edge off, so she was not so "jumpy" and reactive. Eventually I switched her just to taurine, as that was more cost-effective than keeping her on Pet-Ease long term.

  • Jhon

    what are the Most Common Symptoms of Cancer in Dogs, I need to know .. plz Thanks John


  • Melanie S

    Hi John, this is a question you need to ask your veterinarian. Melanie

  • Paula  - Jumping, barcking, pulling on walks

    I just "adopted" a chocolate miniature pincher from a cousin who could no longer take care of him (Rocky). He is very lovable but his play time involves a lot of jumping on people and lovable bites (does not hurt). I take him on walks and we both become fully exhausted from him pulling the entire way. He barks at people and other dogs. He wants to say hello but others are frightened of his behavior and we are afraid that he will hurt someone from his hyper active playing. Will these calming supplements make him stop jumping and pulling during walks? Will he become calmer when meeting new people and other animals during walks? I don't want a sedative but rather just to get him to calm down.

  • Melanie S

    Hi Paula,
    Calming supplements will help take the edge off, but no, they will not totally stop a dog from doing things like jumping and pulling on walks, etc. Soince he has both some leadership and fear related issues involved in his behavior I would urge you to purchase some of the very inexpensive ebooklets on our www.knowingdogs.com website. Healing the Broken Heart goes into detail about how to use all types of things to calm a dog down, and Follow the Leader...Using Walking as a Behavioral Tool has a lot of information about things you can do, that are non-threatening, but will help your Poodle understand that he is to look to YOU versus trying to make his own decisions. We have reduced the ebooks, all are under $10, some are as inexpensive as 2.97. Just click on the Dog Ebooks link on www.knowingdogs.com. Also, once you purchase an ebook you can email me and I will be glad to give you more detailed advice at no charge via email! Melanie

  • Mary Hilbert  - seperation aniety

    Our german shepherd, Libby, has issues with separation from my husband. She will get horrible diariha when he is gone long hours. She waits all day to eat until he returns home. Libby is a focused working dog and he does have a daily catch workout with her. Libby will be upset if he has to leave early before morning light and she doesn't get her workout. He is leaving for a four week trip and I wanted to know if you can recommend anything to help her be less stressed about his absence. She had a very recent episode on brand new white carpeting, the 4th episode in the last 6 months. Libby has been to the vet and is currently on prescription dog food. We are having her stomach ultrasound next week to make sure there isn't any problem there. All her blood work has been in normal ranges. Libby is 8.

  • Melanie S.  - Helping Libby/separation anxiety

    Hi Mary, I am so sorry I didn't see this post on a timely basis. We have been in the process of moving and I simply got behind on logging in and checking blog posts. I imagine that your husband has already left for his trip?
    I personally own a Moyen (smaller sized) Standard Poodle who has started showing signs of separation anxiety from my husband, which seemed to actually start doing this move, when he is working out of town a lot and of course we are in a new environment, the dog's routine is different, etc. Dogs thrive on routine, and we have turned all that upside down for him.
    Here is what I have done which seems to be helping Hudson. He doesn't have a sensitive tummy but he has food related allergies, so I cannot give him certain supplements or foods if they might cause itching or tear staining, etc. I am not allowing my husband to make a big deal out of his comings and goings. He likes to do so, he loves having the dog get all excited when he comes home. But I tell him...

  • Melanie S.

    Libby, I wrote you a long reply, which just disappeared! it's late, but I'll rewrite a few tips for you. Prevention is always the best cure. Have you husband stop making a big deal out of comings and goings. Let him come inside and do a few things, before he sits down and greets Libby. And when he is getting ready to leave, tell him to put on his shoes, even his jacket, in the bathroom without Libby in there, so she doesn't realize he is getting ready to leave, and then slip out the door. Once he leaves, have her with you on leash, and have something like a Kong stuffed with her regular food and a little bit of creamed cheese, frozen in a Ziploc in the freezer, and get that out for her, and have her on leash beside you, preferably you in a chair perhaps watching a morning TV show, and Libby laying on the floor on a blanket beside you. Keep her on leash so she cannot run to the door and be watching for him, and barking at the neighbors. Dogs cannot concentrate on more than one thing...

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