The One in Which Shiva’s Calmness Gives Me the Heebie-Jeebies (And a Giveaway!)

When I was first approached by PetNaturals of Vermont about their new Calming treats for stress reduction, I had to wonder who’s stress was being reduced: mine or my dog’s? I also had to laugh at their ambition. Shiva’s insanity is pretty infamous, at least in my tiny world. Any company willing to test their relaxation product on her, is a company that truly believes in what it is selling.

I’ll be honest. I am not a huge believer in supplements. There have been very few, if any, studies that have shown they perform better than placebo. But for the right price I am willing to try anything. From what I read on the company’s website, the product sounded completely safe. Recommended for times of stress – such as visits to the vet or thunderstorms – Calming treats can also be used daily. The information sheet was very clear in stating that the treats do not contain herbal ingredients that may be harmful, nor do they cause any side effects. Made up of boring sounding items like milk proteins and vitamin B1, I figured the worst thing that could happen was nothing.

So I said, sure. We’ll give them a go. I kinda wished I’d heard from them two and a half years ago, back when Shiva was feasting on our house on a daily basis. Where were these free offers when Shiva was barking at plastic bags? Huh? Huh?

When the treats arrived in their neat little packages, I felt hopeful. Shiva seemed uninterested in the envelope. A first for her. Is she calming down already?  

I opened the first package and then hesitated. The cute little bones didn’t smell like normal treats. They almost smelled like medicine. Like the little Flinstone vitamins my parents used to shove down my throat as a child. I looked at the treat and then looked back at Shiva. Will she even eat it?

If you aren’t already laughing at such a stupid question, you can start now. Is the grass green? Do I drink too much? Does my cat plot against me while I sleep?

Duh.

Of course she ate them. Within a millisecond the first little bone had vanished. However, Shiva still didn’t seem all that excited. Normally the scent of new food that she might get to eat/steal/slobber on sends her into a crazy dance around the room. This time? Nothing. She ate it and then laid her head back down on the floor. Didn’t even try to beg for more.

Creepy.

In fact, it was a little too creepy for me. Since that first day, I have only given her a few more, with much the same results. They haven’t seemed to calm her down – though with a wacko dog like her that’s kind of subjective. At the same time, she doesn’t go Loco for Cocoa Puffs when I give one to her. It weirds me out. Food obsession makes Shiva a Shiva. This is the dog that does hand stands for kibble. I can hold up a piece of dirt and she will act like it’s the yummiest thing she has ever smelled. If she isn’t performing death-defying leaps when I pull out an actual dog treat there is either something wrong or this dog is an imposter.

Given all this, I have decided to turn down the company’s very generous offer to give us a full year’s supply. A calm Shiva is not one I am comfortable with after all. Who knew?

Instead, I think these treats might be put to better use by one of my readers. If you are curious enough to try them out for yourself, let me know in a comment below. I will perform a random draw a week from now with all the interested comments.

Even if you aren’t so sure, I’d love to read about your experiences with supplements like these. Have you given your dogs vitamins? Did you notice a difference?

Many thanks to Pet Naturals of Vermont for giving us this opportunity!

22 thoughts on “The One in Which Shiva’s Calmness Gives Me the Heebie-Jeebies (And a Giveaway!)

  1. We didn’t use food supplements, but we did use DAP- dog appeasing pheromone to great effect when we used to be out of the house 12+ hours a day. It was like one of those plug in air fresheners
    Caveats were that you needed to leave it plugged in ALL the time, not just when you were gone to achieve maximum effect, and that it had a distinct “dog” smell. Plus, it was not cheap. We bought in bulk via ebay.
    Luckily, we could leave it plugged in in the garage and not have the house smell. My dogs went from refusing to follow me into the garage (for fear we were leaving) to running in and out of it with no problems- even when we were leaving.

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  2. The only thing we’ve experimented with is ‘Rescue Remedy’. I didn’t notice any difference, but I wasn’t concerned about harm. Lots of doggy people swear by it, so I don’t mind having it on hand, at least. (Also called ‘Bach Flower Remedy’.)

    I would love to try the calming treats… My Clover is a bit ‘intense’, and I’d be interested to see if they affect her like Shiva.

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  3. I too tried Rescue Remedy and pheromone spray on Chance and Blaze when they came back, didn’t notice one bit of difference. I don’t care to use supplements, but I would really like to find something for them two in the car. They are just crazy.

    I would be interested in trying the calming treats for that purpose.

    It’s spooky when they don’t act themselves, isn’t it?

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    • We are big believers in supplements, though we prefer herb and food based supplements to synthetic supplements at Casa de Kolchak. In fact, I personally have not taken traditional medication for basic infections, minor illness etc. in more than three years. I manage most minor health complaints using traditional remedies. Kolchak occasionally gets an herbal supplement custom compounded by a local homeopath and he gets a ginger supplement before car trips to help settle his pukey tummy.

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  4. I’m not interested in trying these treats (so if my name is picked, please pick another) but I wanted to comment. I use DAP spray during storms and such for the girls – I don’t see an improvement, but I do it anyway, on the off chance that maybe they are worse when I’m not using it. (I know, that’s nuts right?)

    I also use melatonin, and that actually seems to work well – but the problem is, you need to know in advance, so it is not very useful most of the time because you can’t usually predict fireworks and thunder – aside for the week of fourth of July and New Year’s Eve, and some particularly bad storms.

    I’ve tried various fear remedies and rescue remedies and none of them seem to do any good.

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  5. We’ve been trying the exact same supplements on Morgan. I don’t think it’s slowed her down any, either. I noticed that the ones we got were for small dogs, but I don’t think even the right dose would do much for her. She’s just wound too tightly, I’m afraid!

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  6. Hi Kristine, my mom and dad give me daily dose of Standard Process Brand Neuroplex and Neurotrophin PMG and some Bio-Iso-G to help with and promote nerve regeneration. I’ve been taking it pretty much since my injury (about 1-1/2 years). We haven’t noticed too much but my mom and dad are followung the advice of my doctors and it’s not doing any harm. Maybe you could try the stuff on a human.

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  7. My Mom gives me brewers yeast and flaxseed, and she’s given her past dogs (Mastiffs) joint care supplements. She says those helped a lot as the Mastiffs got old. When I start agility I might get a joint supplement, but for now my homemade food works perfectly
    Dachshund Nola

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  8. I’ve used quite a few supplements over the years, mostly for Rufus – salmon oil, flaxseed oil, a green lip mussel joint supplement, glucosamine, slippery elm, bran, probiotic. There might even be more but I can’t remember.

    Georgia takes slippery elm and bran with her breakfast for her gut which was weakened by that bucket of fat she consumed year before last. for a while, she also got a teaspoon of probiotic a day which I’ve discontinued. She now gets a spoonful of natural yogurt instead, not every day but quite often.

    When she was young and had ADHD, I tried Bach Flower remedies [mentioned by some other reader above] but that had no effect on her. [Surprise!] However, I do believe that the [Indian] incense sticks and aromatherapy essential oils that I burn daily has had a calming effect on ALL our dogs. Over time, they seem to become quite placid – at least that’s how other people describe them. Or maybe it’s just maturation and training!

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  9. I’ve tried their calming formula in liquid form. It has l-theanine in it, which does have calming effects, as shown in a few studies.

    I never found it to be of much help for Oreo. And certainly not instantly like that!

    I know what you mean about wanting the crazy dog back! Last year, our behaviorist put Oreo on prozac, and he did calm, but too much! He was completely lethargic. I missed my playful dog!

    The only supplements I give now are dasuquin, fish oil, and kelp,oh yea, and a b-vitamin supplement for Oreo! Gee, I guess I give quite a few supplements.

    If I don’t give Oreo his b-vitamin, I do notice he starts getting a bit “edgy”.

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  10. Here’s my comment (and like Donna, if you pick my name please pick another.) I’m lucky in the fact that Delilah doesn’t get all freaky about thunder storms and fireworks, although I have to say we live far enough away from them for it not to be a real issue.

    That being said, Delilah’s craziness is what makes Delilah…..well Delilah. It’s one of the many things I love about her.

    I think these treats might be perfect for dogs with anxiety issues. Since you’ve worked really hard with the Shivester on this issue she had made great strides. As you stated perhaps if you’d had them two and half years ago.

    I hope when you give them away the person really needs them and I hope they report back to you and let you know how they work!

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  11. Don’t put us in the running for the treats (too many allergies floating around over here) but I’ve tried a slew of supplements and the like. Since Charlie’s on anti-anxiety meds I’ve dabbled in supplements to see if any would help me wean him off, including melatonin, L-theanine, DAP, a Thundershirt, a Calming Cap, Rescue Remedy, and a bunch of others that just aren’t coming to me right now. Some worked, some didn’t, others made him worse. It’s all so subjective and based on your dog’s individual needs and etc. that it’s so impossible to recommend one product for everyone. You just really need to research what’s out there and give it a try if you’re comfortable with it and feel it might help.

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  12. What an odd reaction. Pretty much the only time I have ever tried calming things for the dogs is to try to help Koira’s anxiety around large trucks, like when we are driving down the road. But, so far nothing really helps her with that, so I gave up on anything really helping much.

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  13. I would really like to try these for Molly T., my adoptable Beagle who has obsessive-compulsive disorder. How bad? She finally (a few weeks back) bit off the distal half of her tail! I use Xanax, a Thundershirt (I will endorse these for free; she calmed within minutes) and a buster collar as needed – initially, she needed all three plus! She still spins, she remains OC :( but if I can help mitigate her distress at all, I will try it. Thanks.
    I use some supplements when I get them free from Shelter Alliance; right now, I am giving everyone a liquid daily dose of a Drs. Foster and Smith omega oil and vitamins. I have a calming tablet from Springtime but it doesn’t seem to be making a difference.
    Very weird about Shiva – I still think she has become the dog you have been working toward :).

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  14. I was skeptical when I first started reading your post, but Shiva’s response is pretty interesting. Dozer has fear anxiety towards loud sounds on walks, such as trucks, and when riding in the car. I’ve just played the look at that game and put him in a quiet room during trash pickup day, but it hasn’t seemed to improve on his shriving panic attacks and trying to run away on a leash.

    I’ve thought about trying rescue remedy or DAP. I did try Through a Dog’s Ear calming music. He stayed in the room but other then that it didn’t help.

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  15. We have used many supplements over the years and still give Cali a joint supplement daily ( we totally see a difference if we run out and she doesn’t take it for a few days!) I would love to try something like this for Saydee. . .just to see if it helps her feel more relaxed :)

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  16. As far as supplements, we have given them from time to time over the years. We gave Storm cranberry until her first season to ward off UTI’s. (She never has had one.) We also gave her a food supplement between year 1 and 2 because she would have soft stools from time to time, (once she was full grown she outgrew that so we stopped). We also give Thunder yogurt because after his surgery he was having trouble keeping weight on, (not uncommon for dogs who have had stomach surgery). There is an RX drug but we hoped yogurt would do the trick rather than having to put him on a drug and it has helped.

    Luckily we don’t have the need for a calmness supplement right now. :)

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  17. Last trip we took we gave Our Best Friend gravol on the way there and Benadryl on the way back. Didn’t do a thing.

    Maybe Shiva didn’t do her typical neurotic happy dance because even though it’s food, it’s not tasty food.

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  18. Wow that is a weird response! Dante is definitely food motivated too, big time, so I’d be weirded out if he was like that. I’ve been giving him glucosamine, in various forms, on and off for years because Iggys are extra susceptible to joint pain when they’re older. It also makes a noticeable difference in his coat, which is nice. And when I’m not already nauseated, I’ll mix in some fish oil to help his coat too (his fur will show it when he’s been stressed or sick).

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  19. Pingback: Announcing the Winner of Pet Naturals of Vermont Giveaway! | Rescued Insanity

  20. hey kristine! i’m late to the party, as per usual, but i felt compelled to chime in. we tried a variety of supplements and tactics when it came to desmond’s anxiety. there really weren’t any chews/treats that did all that much for us until we finally went to the vet to inquire about anxiety meds for desmond and she gave us composure treats. i wrote about them here: http://www.lifewithdesmond.com/2011/12/part-3-is-your-dog-anxious-lets-review.html

    it’s really weird how shiva reacted to the treats. maybe she just didn’t think they tasted good??

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