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No supplement is a cure-all for behaviour, but they can be really helpful in supporting specific situations and some play a part in helping improve underlying mood state and making it easier for your dog to learn new behaviours. However, different supplements have different properties and work in completely different ways, so it is important to choose the right one and the best results come from combining this with behaviour support.
Sort the basics first
Good gut health is really important to help your dog produce things like serotonin, which plays an essential role in regulating mood (amongst other things!) so probiotics can be a very helpful part of improving behaviour. Similarly omega 3 is important for brain function too. A balanced canine multi-vitamin and mineral is also important, particularly at times of stress when certain groups can become quite depleted.
Then think about what you want to address
There are three broad categories:
- help with short term, acute stressors (like storms, vet visits, car travel, fireworks)
- help with medium term stressors like going on holiday, being in kennels, moving house, illness or injury, settling in a new rescue, guardians being in hospital and even supporting grief, for example if a remaining pet struggles with the loss of another
- longer term help to improve underlying mood state, reduce anxiety, perhaps help with some of the symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction
Some products really only suit one of these categories, some may be used in a variety of situations - but this may be at different dosages. Even more broadly, these supplements tend to either focus on increasing key neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine (these are typically nutraceuticals and work by supplementing the precursor components of those neurotransmitters, the l-tryptophan and l-theanine) or they are herbal, and function here varies, but often targets aspects of the nervous system. The two can often be complementary to each other, but in all cases they will only be effective if they are targeted to the right underlying issue and there is always a risk can you make things worse if not - this is why it is generally better to get a bit of advice first!
We indicate some of our preferred uses for each of the products in the descriptions, but to help you get started, if you are looking for something to help with a short term stressor you might want to consider Pet Wellbeing Stress Gold or Kalm Aid. For medium term stressors, consider Kalm Aid, Doggie Be Calm or Pet Wellbeing Calming Care. These do provide some level of immediate support, but are best started a couple of weeks in advance where possible, sometimes longer. If you think your pet needs longer term support, you probably need some help to get the choice right - see our section on behaviour support.
Doggie Be Smarter is an interesting and slightly different product which we have found can really help dogs who are finding it hard to learn new behaviours, perhaps because of chronic stress, prior absence of opportunities to learn (rescued ex-racing greyhounds can be a good example) or if they show signs of learned helplessness due to previous experiences, but this is an adjunct to, not a substitute for, the tiny adjustments in training methodology which can be vital to help those dogs succeed.
The Pet Wellbeing Pet Melatonin is a slightly more specialised (although still over the counter) supplement which is included here to allow our clients and rescues to access it easily where advised to do so!
And, we say it again, as with all supplements PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR VET BEFORE STARTING. THERE CAN BE CONTRA-INDICATIONS WITH SOME MEDICAL CONDITIONS OR OTHER MEDICATIONS