Nervous Poodle During Storms
Answered by: Kerry Hackett
Question from: Dorothy King
Posted on: May 03, 2007

Would it be suitable to give our standard poodle (11 yr) valerian or chamomile in the evenings when a storm is here or nearing? He did not develop nervousness until the last 3 years. He is restless, and as a result makes us restless, with panting and pacing especially so at night. He weighs about 50 lb.

Please start by reading the postings on this website ( entitled, "Calming Dogs" and "Fireworks and Thunder Causing Anxiety in Dogs".

As for the herbs you mention, valerian (Valeriana officinalis) has been used to calm and relax humans and dogs alike for centuries. Conditions for which it is most often employed are: anxiety, insomnia, stomach conditions affected by the nervous system, some forms of epilepsy, anticipation of travel or going to the vets and, you guessed it, fear during thunderstorms. The best way to employ Valerian in this instance would be to start two to three days in advance of the storm (check the weather forcast!). Using valerian tincture (available at most health food stores or at your local herbalists) give five drops three to four times a day. Alternatively, put five drops of the tincture for each 30 pounds of dog in their food two to three times a day. Please remember that in some humans and animals valerian can have the opposite effect, stimulating rather than sedating. Also valerian should not be given to pregnant or lactating animals and not be consumed in large amounts.

German chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Chamomilla recutita) has also been employed as a mild sedative and digestive tonic. Although the literature does not usually cite this herb for use in thunderstorms, it is often the first herb that comes to mind when considering nervous complaints. Chamomile is typically dosed at five to ten drops per 20 pounds of dog twice a day, either in food or directly by mouth. Please do not give this herb to pregnant or lactating animals. In addition, check to see that your dog does not have allergies to chamomile by only trying a couple of drops to start. Some humans and animals have allergies to the entire family (Asteraceae) to which this herb belongs.

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