Keep Calm and Nom On: Calming Pet Foods and Treats

On my last visit to the vet, we had an in-depth conversation about my felines and their challenging behaviors. FiFi tends to piddle in areas beyond her litter box and in spite of being neutered when he was just a kit kid, Simon continues to spray from time to time. Luckily, he’s old (18), super slow and I’ve been able to jump into action for an immediate clean-up when I see it happen. The key words being “when I see it”. And yes, I’ve tried pheromone plug-ins with mixed results.

My vet explained that in a multi-pet household it was less likely to be behavioral but more stress-related. Then he recommended a special kibble to help take the edge off my cranked-out cats. It seems that Royal Canin is all over this type of emotional behavior and has produced a dry food called “Calm” that yes, does just that when consumed by anxious kitties. You see, it includes a relatively low dose of Tryptophan – that same ingredient in turkey that makes us snooze after a big Thanksgiving dinner. But for felines, it just gives them a little buzz.

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 Which got me thinking… what other brands are cooking up batches of mood-altering foods and what secret ingredients do they use to calm the savage beast that is your Fluffy.

For example, an organization called VetriScience Laboratories is tackling feline nastiness one treat at a time with their “Composure Calming Formula”. It comes in bite-sized chews with the composure part of the equation kicking in within 20 to 30 minutes of consumption. They claim to be veterinary approved and you can double or even triple the dose to “achieve the desired result”. Hmm… Their secret ingredient is Colostrum – the nutrient-rich liquid produced by mammary glands immediately after giving birth and prior to the milk flowing. Which may invoke a sense of comfort and nurture in anxious pets.

I’m intrigued, so onward.

Then there’s a NaturVet Quiet Moments cat treats. Not only do these soft chews include Tryptophan and Chamomile, but they’ve also added a dash of Melatonin to truly cover all the bases when attempting to take the edge off your kit-kat’s stressful day. I’m thinking the addition of soothing Chamomile may be designed to appeal to those of us who are herbal tea drinkers?

Well-known cat food brand Nutramax has also stepped up to the plate with their Solliquin Calming soft chews for dogs or cats. With key ingredients derived from traditional Chinese medicines such as Magnolia Officinalis –known for its relaxing properties and ability to treat depression – as well as Phellodendron amurense (not to be confused with the house plant philodendron) which is considered to be an effective stress-reliever, these bite-sized tid-bits are ideal for bringing calm to your household. And for the herb-lover, you’ll be pleased to know that they also contain Rosemary and Green Tea extracts.

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PetNaturals is another brand that has come up with a special recipe designed to take the crazy out of your kitty (their words, not mine) without the need for those often-sedating prescription chemicals. Apparently, their “high potency” ingredients that are all-natural and can be used on a daily basis if your pet is typically the skittish type. Or, if she’s super reactive only during high-stress situations such as thunderstorms, car-rides / car carrier trips, you can slip her a treat or two (or three) to bring a full-blown freak-out down a peg or two. Now, they reference three key ingredients that work together to deliver a special, non-personality-altering, calming effect, but beyond Rosemary Extract, I couldn’t find out what they were. They’re just that secret!

The name says it all with Ark Naturals Happy Traveler soft chews. These all-natural treats are ideal for dogs or cats and because they are free from wheat, corn and soy, they won’t upset sensitive tummies. In addition to German Chamomile and L-Tryptophan, the brand uses the natural medicinal properties of plants such as Valerian – considered an effective sedative as well as St. Johns Wort which is often used as an anti-depressant for humans. These easy to eat treats are great for easing motion sickness which, as any pet parent can attest, ultimately makes for a stress-free drive for pets and owners.

Let’s shift away from treats for a while and take a look at some of the calming supplements that can be added to your pet’s existing brand of wet or dry food.

If you’re committed to going the herbal route, Dr. Mercola’s Zen Pet Dietary Supplement might be the product for you. In addition to including a custom blend of Organic Holy Basil and German Chamomile, it features Rhodiola Rosea – a plant that is known for being a natural adaptogen. As the name implies, adaptogens help your body adapt to stress and for your dog or cat, it will help keep them chill during troubling times – such as thunder storms or when going to the vet, the groomer or just being stuffed into a travel carrier. It’s a powder you simply sprinkle on their food – daily, or as needed – and while it relaxes your pet, it won’t cause drowsiness. So, they can still operate heavy machinery if needed!

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Of course, we can’t talk about “chill” without including some of the hemp-based products out on the market. For an all-round product that tackles not only stress but joint, fur and heart health, there is Zesty Paws. This brand offers a Refined Virgin Hemp Seed Oil supplement (not to be confused with the more powerful CBD oil). for dogs and cats that includes Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil. For my crew, you had them at “salmon”, but there’s so much more because together these oils deliver a wealth of nutrients and omega fatty acids. In addition to supporting a shinier coat, this easy-pump supplement helps both dogs and cats feel calm and comfortable without the drowsy side-effects of drugs.

Another brand offering the calming benefits of hemp oil is Fur Goodness Sake. Their HempGold oil supplement can be used on either your pooch or puss to help de-escalate those testy moments we know they can display when under stress. A few drops of the organic hemp oil in your pet’s food or water dish is all it takes to help calm frazzled (or about to be frazzled) nerves. Now, these products do not produce the same effect as cannabis, so never worry your pet will get “stoned”. But they do deliver an extraordinary level of omega 3 6 and 9 fatty acids which is ideal for your pet’s overall health as well as calming components that are non-GMO and completely free of pesticides.

Note that other than Royal Canin’s Calm dry kibble, none of these have actually been tested for their effectiveness. If you’re interested in exploring other brands and some of the other calming ingredients available on today’s market, check out Chewy.com.


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