Dogs are often believed to be purely social animals who enjoy interaction with humans and other animals alike.
What has emerged, however, is data suggesting that some dogs suffer from social disorders in a manner similar to humans. Among these is anxiety, which appears to be the most prominent of canine behavioral problems.
According to veterinarians, an estimated 15 percent of household dogs have anxiety. Some of these canines react strongly to a thunderstorm, others are afraid of humans and still others have a condition known as separation anxiety.
The origins of such disorders are largely debatable and vary considerably. Some dog trainers argue that certain dogs are simply predisposed to such a condition, while others state it is a result of former abuse. In any case, anxiety is a serious disorder that requires prompt treatment.
Using Foods to Remedy Anxiety
The controversy over prescription medications extends well beyond humans and into the arena of pets. For this reason, a large number of canine professionals recommend using foods rich in nutrients to help relieve symptoms of anxiety. Certain vitamins and minerals have proven to work beneficially with the brain and body, thereby calming dogs and providing them with daily essential nutrition.
Some commercial dog foods provide a degree of nutrition, but processing often damages a number of important vitamins. An example of this is found in vitamin B6, which often loses its nutritional significance before it is even provided to dogs. The best way to nourish dogs, therefore, is with raw foods.
Listed below are some essential nutrients, in what raw food sources they are found, and how they help dogs cope with anxiety.
- Thiamine: plants, fruits, vegetables, milk and meat are all good sources of thiamine, or vitamin B1. This facilitates neurotransmitter synthesis, converts food carbohydrates to energy and promotes healthy functioning of nerves. All of these activities are beneficial for relieving canine panic and anxiety.
- Riboflavin: found largely in organ meats and dairy products, riboflavin, or vitamin B2, works to break down other B vitamins into useful forms. This allows the body to function properly with the aid of important nutrients, thereby reducing the impact of anxiety.
- Vitamin B6: this is found in a variety of foods, including chicken, sweet potatoes and bananas. Vitamin B6 is valuable for anxiety because it helps in the manufacturing of neurotransmitters, like serotonin. Such chemicals are essential to the body for coping with anxiety. Moreover, vitamin B6 is thought to support the immune system during stress.
- Folic acid: found in organ meats, turkey and asparagus, this member of the vitamin B family likely helps relieve depression, which is often linked to panic and anxiety.
- Niacin: meat and meat by-products often contain niacin, which stabilizes blood sugar and helps the nervous system function properly.
- Pantothenic acid: meats and vegetables both contain pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5. This assists the production of stress hormones when they are most needed during psychologically difficult times. It also supports the body’s natural response to anxiety.
- Calcium: found in such foods as yogurt, salmon and broccoli, calcium assists normal communication between nerve cells. It also aids muscle contraction, all of which support the body during times of anxiety. It is also suggested that calcium may lower blood pressure, which likely raises during stress.
- Magnesium: green vegetables like spinach contain magnesium, which is beneficial during anxiety because it helps relax overwrought muscles.
Additional Benefits of Raw Food Diets for Dogs
While stress and anxiety may likely be controlled with a wholesome regimen, the raw food diet poses a number of other health benefits as well. Veterinarians believe that proper nutrition is essential to all aspects of a healthy dog. Moreover, when dogs are nutritionally satisfied, they are far less likely to undergo negative behavioral changes that include aggression, anxiety and fears.
While treatment is certainly necessary for dogs with anxiety, the root of the problem must also be explored in order to entirely eliminate it. According to veterinarians, diet is a viable first place to start because it can likely control physical symptoms. From there, additional training exercises may be required to get a pet back on track.