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Valerian root is said to improve sleep, reduce anxiety and have an overall calming effect.
With these super desirable properties, it’s no wonder owners ask if their dogs can benefit!
Here’s the deal:
For people and their pets, there is insufficient clinical data to support such claims. Scant evidence exists for valerian root’s effectiveness.
With that being said, this herbal remedy may appear to work for your pooch.
Giving Your Dog Valerian Root is Dubious
In small amounts, the plant is usually not dangerous. But we must point out a few things:
Hyperactive Hound Effect
With valerian root, the opposite of the intended effect is possible.
There are cases where dogs have become more high-strung from this herb.
And that’s not all…
Natural Not Always Safe
Valerian root does not always interact well with antihistamines and any medication that alters mood.
This may not be a factor for your dog, but keep it in mind. The point is natural remedies aren’t always without their downsides.
Valerian root, in particular, can cause reduced blood pressure.
And give too much and your dog could experience dizziness, nausea, vomiting and stomach upset.
Play it safe. Talk to your vet before providing this supplement if your pet pooch is stressed out.
Doubtful Dosing For Dogs
Getting the right Valerian root dosage for a dog can also be tricky.
It comes in several different forms and concentrations. There are liquid droppers (essential oils), capsules, tablets, dried and chewable products.
Dosage is all over the map!
Start off with a modest amount when dosing your dog for valerian root. You could always gradually bump it up after a few days.
Too Easy To Recommend
You may have noticed websites touting this medicinal plant for pets, but we remain skeptical.
For cats, it may make more sense. It has a catnip-like effect.
Truth be told, valerian root is probably a bit riskier when it comes to animals.
But again, no serious research has been done. And that is reason enough to be cautious for your dog’s sake.
Why All The Confusion?
We wanted to know more about the reasons for uncertainty surrounding valerian root.
After all, it has been used for hundreds of years. So, you would think there’d be a better understanding of this plant.
And confusion doesn’t apply to only dogs.
What we found is that the components in Valeriana officinalis are believed to act in a synergistic way (150+ chemical constituents).
Translation: There is no easy way to discern how it works.
Melatonin And Others
Melatonin is a good alterative.
It has more of a proven track record compared to Valerian root or even human sleep meds.
We asked Sara Redding Ochoa (DVM) what else works for getting a dog to relax and she offered the following bit of advice:
“Pet stores have excellent calming treats. These usually contain Chamomile, passion flower, Ginger, L-tryptophan in addition to melatonin. It’s typical that these types of treats contain a combination of ingredients. They work most of the time.”
The Bottom Line
Valerian root is unlikely to help your dog with stress or anxiety.
Studies show it is often ineffective for people – let alone for animals.
For accidental situations, there is usually no reason for alarm if a small amount of Valerian root was consumed.
This herb may even work for your dog — or at least seem like it does. It’s just that we view it as unproven and unreliable.