Overview of Treating Anxiety in Dogs With a Focus on Over-the-Counter Options

anxious dog paw over face

If you’ve got an anxious dog, then odds are it has some sort of negative impact on your life, whether occasional or every day. Seeking out a solution can be a long and winding road, but rest assured that there’s almost always an answer out there for helping your dog feel more comfortable in stressful situations. 

Some pet owners start by trying to train their pups to connect the anxiety-inducing stimuli to something more positive, while others look to calming products like vests and beds. These options have proven successful for many, but not for everyone. When those efforts have failed, and you’re still trying to find a way to relieve your pet’s anxiety, you may want to consider medication. 

This path can be highly effective, but it is not one to go down without doing plenty of research, consulting with your vet, and exercising incredible caution when administering the meds to your dog. To help make sure you’re as safe and careful as possible during this process, take a look at this comprehensive guide to over-the-counter anxiety meds for dogs. 

Keep in mind that there are prescription meds you can potentially provide your pup, but we’re going to keep things simple here and focus on the OTC options.

What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

If you’re researching over-the-counter anxiety medication for dogs, then odds are you know a dog who tends to get nervous and exhibit anxious behaviors in certain situations. But what you might not be aware of is the exact reason why these situations are making your pet behave this way. Dog anxiety usually comes from one of the following three places.


Some dogs become incredibly anxious when separated from their owners or left alone for prolonged periods. This can result in all kinds of unwanted behavior like defecating or peeing in the house, chewing and destroying furniture and objects, and excessive barking.


If something frightens your dog, it can trigger anxiety and anxious behaviors. That thing could be strangers, other animals, loud sounds, car rides, the vet’s office, and much more.


As dogs begin to decline cognitively, they can become more easily confused and frightened, which can lead to a lot of anxiety.

How Is Anxiety Usually Treated in Dogs?

There are many ways to approach the treatment of dog anxiety, including training methods, calming products, medications, and CBD oil. What might work best for you and your dog will depend on the specifics of the case. 

For instance, if you’re looking to train your dog to be less anxious around strangers, you can work on socializing them more, while medication or calming products may be best for calming them during specific events, like long car rides or thunderstorms.  

If you’d like to create a plan for helping your dog overcome their anxieties, then doing your own research is fantastic, but it’s always best to work with your veterinarian, as well. They’re trained professionals who can offer insight and advice that is not always attainable on your own.

What Can You Give a Dog for Anxiety Over the Counter?

If you think that medication might be an effective way to treat your dog’s anxiety, then you’ve got some options to choose from. The simplest approach is to consider getting your dog anxiety medication over-the-counter so that you don’t need to acquire any prescriptions. 

OTC medications are not as potent as prescription ones, but they can still be highly effective and come with fewer risks. Finding the best dog anxiety medication over the counter depends on your dog’s specific needs, so keep that in mind as you research the various options. 


One of the most commonly used OTC anxiety meds for dogs is the antihistamine Benadryl. While humans typically take this medication to relieve allergy symptoms, it also offers a calming effect that can even make you feel a bit drowsy. It’s those aspects of this med that make it useful for helping your dog feel calm. 

Benadryl is considered safe for dogs, but it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before giving some to yours.


Melatonin is produced naturally within the body of humans, dogs, and many other species every night to help them get to sleep. 

There are countless options when it comes to melatonin supplements you might offer your pup, but you may want to go the extra mile and pick up some melatonin dog treats designed specifically for them. As always, speak with your vet first.


L-theanine is a chemical compound often included in all-natural sleep aids thanks to its ability to help you feel calmer and more relaxed. It’s also one of the best over-the-counter anxiety meds for dogs for this same reason. 

Much like with melatonin, you can find L-theanine supplements of all kinds out there, but you may want to opt for a calming dog treat that contains the compound, provided you speak with your vet beforehand.


Perhaps the best OTC dog anxiety medication of all is a fairly new product called CBD. CBD is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the hemp plant. It wasn’t actually legal until 2018. Now that it is legal, research is being conducted into the compound’s ability to provide a vast array of therapeutic effects for both humans and dogs, including a sense of calm and relaxation

There have been some interesting results so far, which is why there are currently a ton of calming treats for dogs that contain CBD. You’ll want to speak with your vet first and be careful about the dosage to avoid unpleasant side effects, but this option can be a game changer.

Help Your Dog to Feel More Calm

It requires a lot of research and careful consideration to safely and effectively provide your pup with the proper over-the-counter anxiety medication. We hope this guide can help you to do it. Always speak with your vet first, and good luck to you and your pup!  

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Paul Buonopane

Have you ever heard the adage, "Once a cat person, always a cat person"? Well, prepare to have that myth charmingly dispelled! I grew up a cat lover but these good boys just couldn't be denied and I'm officially a convert.

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