By Dr Daisy A. May MRCVS BVSc, Veterinary Surgeon
Today marks a first in the history of VRV. Today, we jump wholeheartedly on to the Amazon Affiliate bandwagon. But fear not, dear reader. I haven’t sold my soul. In fact, I’ve spent a significant amount of time trawling journal articles and data from research studies to present you with a Top 5 Best Calming Treats for Dogs that are actually worth their weight in relaxation gold.
Of course, the treats listed below are intended as an aid – a crutch, if you will – for any dog experiencing anxiety. They are certainly not intended to be a substitute for working on the issue (ideally with input from an accredited behaviourist) to achieve a permanent solution. And to set realistic expectations, they likely won’t work for severe anxiety. But as a helpful “extra” in managing doggy distress, the following products are certainly worthy of the VRV seal of approval.
You’ll notice too, that I’ve made the very intentional decision to steer clear of hemp or CBD as an ingredient in the following products. This is because it’s actually not technically legal to give your dog CBD (in the UK at least, and in several US states). You can read more about CBD for dogs here.
Let’s get started.
1. YuMove Calming Care Tasty Bites for Adult Dogs
Coming in at first place on our list of best calming treats for dogs are YuMove’s Calming Care Bites (previously known as “YuCalm” tasty bites). These tasty treats offer something of a rare combination, being both natural and scientifically proven to ease canine stress and anxiety.
YuMove’s Calming Bites work by supporting “calming” neuronal pathways (that is, the bridges in the brain across which your pup’s brain cells communicate with each other). This encourages calm behaviours naturally, promoting peaceful, happy and well adjusted pets.
A key ingredient in YuMove’s Calming Bites is lemon balm. Officially known by the latin “Melissa officinalis”, lemon balm is in fact not a fruit, but rather a herbaceous (and rather gloriously scented) member of the mint family. The citrus-scented leaves of this helpful little herb have a long history of medicinal use, and have been shown to be effective in increasing GABA levels (a calming chemical messenger in the body) .
This increase in GABA helps your dog feel relaxed, soothing any bubbling stresses or worries, and encouraging a calmer demeanour and more settled behaviour. And, to be on the safe side, as well as lemon balm these chewy yummies also contain a top class combination of GABA and L-arginine to further support a tranquil mind.
As a final bonus point, YuMove’s Calming Bites offer L-tryptophan (more on this nifty little molecule later), B vitamins and fish protein hydrolysate to support normal, healthy brain function. Conclusion? There’s nothing fishy about these fantastic little mind-settlers. Highly recommend.
2. NaturVet Quiet Moments Soft Chews (with Added Ginger for Travel & Motion Sickness)
As a vet, it’s basically a no brainer that I’m passionate about pets. Including the “little things” that contribute to quality of life that require a holistic mindset to appreciate. One such “little thing” is sleep quality.
Of course, most of us will have experienced the maddening 2am tossing and turning of short-term stress related insomnia…but did you know your dog can also be affected? For me, this is one of the main situations in which Naturvet’s Quiet Moments Soft Chews might be of particular benefit, due in large to the safe and effective levels of melatonin they contain.
Abundant research has shown that having lower than adequate blood levels of melatonin (a hormone vitally important for sleep) results in insomnia, and that older dogs in particular may be prone to melatonin-deficiency sleep disorders .
In addition to a likely benefit in terms of supporting your dog’s sleep-wake cycle, melatonin is known to have anti-anxiety effects in human patients , and it’s certainly possible that similar effects may be enjoyed by our canine family members.
NaturVet Quiet Moments also provide the natural support of thiamine, L-tryptophan, chamomile and passion flower. The inclusion of ginger means NaturVet’s chews are an excellent choice for car journeys, as ginger has been shown in many studies to provide anti-nausea (anti-sickness) effects. Overall, a worthy second-placer on this list of best calming treats for dogs.
3. Forthglade Natural Grain Free Calming Dog Treats
Enriched with camomile, lavender and lemon balm, Forthglade’s natural and delicious soft bites are well deserving of the third place spot on the list of best calming treats for dogs…hardly a surprise, since Forthglade have over 50 years of experience when it comes to formulating and producing natural and nutritious recipes.
As a company, Forthglade’s ethos revolves around high quality ingredients, the utilisation of gentle cooking methods, and – of course – a strict policy of absolutely no nasties. So, the well-researched pet parent can sleep easy (almost as easy as their pooch!) in the knowledge that these calming dog treats are bursting with goodness and absolutely junk and filler-free. Yes please!
As we already know, lemon balm is known to encourage feelings of relaxation and a tranquil demeanour in our canine companions. As for lavender and camomile, research regarding the anxiety-relieving benefits of these natural herbs when consumed orally by dogs is currently limited, but we do know that the scents of lavender and camomile essential oils may reduce canine stress .
And, since (like us) our pets taste their food with their noses first, it isn’t a great leap to presume that Forthglade could be on to something here. Not to mention they smell so inviting that you’ll be tempted to taste them yourself (please refrain, for everybody’s sake).
4. Scrumbles Nibbles Calming Dog Treats
At first glance Scrumbles are seemingly cheap and cheerful, but don’t be fooled – these crunchy calming snacks are offering something none of the other contenders on our list of best calming dogs treats can match: a hypoallergenic option. They also currently retail on Amazon for less than £2. Guys, less than £2. That’s like one bag of haribo!
References to human treats aside, being hypoallergenic makes Scrumbles a no-brainer for pet parents looking for a calming dog treat that won’t destabilise an allergic dog (because nothing says stressful like itchy skin!) or upset any sensitive tummies.
Scrumbles Calming Treats are also a great guilt-free option for diet club doggos, due to their high protein, low calorie recipe (which, by the way, is completely free from grain, wheat and gluten).
Like YuMove and Forthglade, the main active ingredients in Scrumbles are lemon balm and camomile, although slippery elm is also included and is touted by many holistic veterinarians as a great natural remedy for stomach upset (a common side effect of stress in our four-legged friends).
A final bonus, Scrumbles is an independent, family-run company, and their treats are produced in the UK and Ireland using responsibly-sourced ingredients and smartly dressed in recyclable packaging. What’s not to love?
5. Pooch & Mutt Calm & Relaxed Natural Wheat Free Dog Treats
Finally, I couldn’t complete my list of best calming treats for dogs without a nod to Pooch & Mutt’s wheat free minibones. These invitingly crunchy and flavourful snacks provide a soul-soothing dose of chamomile and valerian root, as well as L-tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid required in your pet’s body in order to make serotonin (the famous ‘feel good’ hormone).
Suitable for practically all dogs aged 16 weeks or more, Pooch & Mutt’s calming treats for dogs may be used prior to a known stressor (such as a vet visit, car journey, or fireworks), or simply offered as a bedtime snack to support a peaceful nighttime routine.
Pooch & Mutt’s low calorie recipe, as well as the small portion size of these treats, make them an excellent choice for dogs who could do with shedding a little weight; rest assured that these treats won’t trash your pet’s diet plan in the process of calming their mind.
As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases and will receive a commission when you clink on my links and then make purchases. This helps me continue to be able to provide you with accurate, scientific and free pet care and veterinary information without the need to transition from vanlife to actually homeless. Thanks for your support.
The Sciency Bits
- Graham, L., Wells, D.L. and Hepper, P.G. (2005) ‘The influence of olfactory stimulation on the behaviour of dogs housed in a rescue shelter’, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 91(1-2), pp. 143-153. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159104001972#:~:text=Dogs%20spent%20more%20time%20resting,than%20other%20types%20of%20aroma (Accessed 14 August 2023).
- Repova, K., Baka, T., Krajcirovicova, K., Stanko, P., Aziriova, S., Reiter, R.J. and Simko, F. (2022) ‘Melatonin as a Potential Approach to Anxiety Treatment’, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23 (24). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9788115/#:~:text=In%20conclusion%2C%20melatonin%20seems%20to,effect%20are%20not%20entirely%20understood (Accessed 14 July 2023).
- Ruiz-Cano, D., Sanchez-Carrasco, G., El-Minyaoui, A. and Arnao, M.B. (2022) ‘Essential Oils and Melatonin as Functional Ingredients in Dogs’, Animals, 12(16). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9405278/ (Accessed 14 July 2023).
- Scholey, A., Gibbs, A., Neale, C., Perry, N., Ossoukhova, A., Bilog, V., Kras, M., Scholz, C., Sass, M. and Buchwald-Werner, S. (2014) ‘Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods’, Nutrients, 6(11). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245564/ (Accessed 14 August 2023).
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