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Ask A Vet: Can What I Feed My Dog Make Him Calmer?

| Published on September 16, 2023

We struggle with where our focus should be when we select foods and supplements for our dogs. There are diets for almost everything, and recently there are even diets and dietary additives that are designed to produce mental calming and aid in anxiety disorders.

Research has shown that there are compounds in food that can help our brains manage anxiety or chemical imbalances. Studies show that certain compounds that are found in foods can act as mood stabilizers or even as sedatives.


Some of these things mimic chemicals found naturally in our brain, and some just have calming as a happy side effect. New research is ongoing to uncover more of these compounds, but there is something to the rumors. You are what you eat, and what you eat can even make you better. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Organic Hemp Powder

Hemp contains compounds like cannabidiol (CBD), which interacts with the endocannabinoid system in dogs, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. It helps in calming the nervous system without the psychoactive effects of THC, aiding in anxiety relief for dogs.

Valerian Root

Valerian root has natural sedative properties that can calm an anxious dog. It contains valerenic acid, which interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, reducing stress and promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation in dogs.


Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. It’s commonly used to manage anxiety in dogs by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. By influencing the body’s internal clock, melatonin can help anxious dogs establish a regular sleep pattern, which can contribute to overall reduced anxiety levels.


Chamomile is known for its calming and anti-anxiety properties in both humans and dogs. It contains compounds like apigenin, which can bind to receptors in the brain, producing a calming effect. Chamomile can help soothe an upset stomach, reduce nervousness, and promote relaxation in dogs experiencing anxiety.


Everyone feels sleepy after eating Thanksgiving feast, but some of the calming might be from the tryptophan found naturally in turkey meat. A very recent study found that fearful dogs have alterations in some of the metabolism of molecules involved in oxidative stress, tryptophan, and lipid metabolism. Tryptophan is a precursor of important molecules like serotonin, melatonin, and niacin. The serotonin system has been shown to be unbalanced in some mood and anxiety disorders, and all three of these compounds are popularly believed to be involved in a sense of well-being and happiness in humans.

Although more work needs to be done to investigate the specifics of dietary supplementation to ease anxiety in dogs, we do know that tryptophan is an essential amino acid and must be obtained through a dog’s diet, so making sure it is a part of every dog’s diet plan is a great idea.


L-Theanine is another amino acid, but it is found in tea plants. It is thought to have beneficial physiological effects in many species, especially enhancing relaxation and improving concentration. It is bio-available when taken orally and is an area that shows promise when added to dogs’ diets.

iHeartDogs 9-in-1 Calming Chews for Dogs contain all of these natural ingredients and more to help relieve stress and anxiety in your dog.

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