Wednesday, May 2, 2012

St. John's Wort for Dog Anxiety

St. John's Wort is the BEST thing that has ever happened to Me & My Neurotic Basset!
Leo has always suffered from chronic anxiety and panic attacks. As he has grown older, the
problem has become more severe. He had gotten to the point where he was an insomniac (and therefore so was I) He was disrupting the entire household with his issues. He couldn't ever be left alone, as he would launch into a full blown panic attack, trembling, drooling to the point of dehydration and peeing everywhere. I had tried all sorts of different remedies over the course of his 6 years with us, to no avail. I was definitely starting to come unglued. Somewhere, I had read about this natural remedy, St. John's Wort, and I figured why not. I started him on 2 capsules in the morning and 2 at night. I threw in a Melatonin before bed in hopes that it would help him to sleep. This regimen ended up being a DREAM COME TRUE! He has been taking this combination for almost 2 months and his anxiety has decreased tremendosly and he is sleeping through the night every night. He used to freak out, if I just took out my picture to snap a photo. The flash of the camera petrified him. I was so happy when I pulled out my camera last week to take a picture of my daughter, and Leo just sat there calmly. He is able to stay home alone, confined to one room, but we no longer come home to an ocean of drool. He can handle rain and wind storms, which he never used to be able to do, and he has even been okay with balloons lately. (Yes he used to run and hide when he'd see a balloon come into the house) Birthday parties were a NIGHTMARE! Lots of cameras and balloons, you can imagine his horror. Poor LEO.  He still suffers from panic attacks during thunder storms but this is more in the normal realm of anxiety for dogs. And yes we tried the Thunder Coat (it gave him MORE anxiety when he wore it) but it did look good on him :) We are truly grateful that we have found something to help LEO to deal with his issues, and all we can do now is cross our fingers that it continues to do the job for him. We are all functioning a little bit better as a family now that LEO isn't turning our lives upside down as much.


  1. I started my dog on St. Johns Wort recently too. How many mg of St. Johns Wort do you give Leo? Thank you!

  2. Hi Jodi,
    I give LEO 300mg tablets and I give him 2 pills in the morning and 2 at night. He also takes one 5 mg melatonin at bedtime :) He has done very well on this regimen!!! Good Luck!!!!

  3. I am willing to try this. It's been a while since you posted this. Does it still work. I have a 10 year old Basset who on 6/29/13 heard the first firework of the season and hasn't settled down since. Please let me know.

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Michele,
    I think it works great! After awhile, I had to break the pill and poor the powder into his food because he got too smart and spit it out. I was giving him 2 per day, once in morning and once at night. I now just give him Benadryl when there are fireworks or thunder and it seems to help him calm down. I usually give 10mg of Benadryl and that does the trick. The St. John's Wort definitely helps in the long run for his general anxiety but he seems to need something more during really stressful times! I hope this helps! P.S. It's important to be consistent with the St. John's Wort because it takes time to build up in the system. It has to be given on a regular basis! GOOD LUCK!!!!! :)

  5. I have a beagle. He had been on a normal routine for the first year of his life. I kenneled him when going to work and had no problems. In November 0f 2013 I had a terrible fall and broke every bone from my knee down. I have been at home wheelchair bound since then. This has been wonderful for my Beagle (Snoopy) EXCEPT if go anywhere. The separation anxiety is unbelievable. He has been known to bark and cry for hours. After my own doctor's appointment today I hobbled into the drug store to get St. John's Wort and Melatonin. He doesn't have sleep issues, but I got it just in case I needed back up. I pray that this eventually takes the edge off for him when I go back to work. It just breaks my heart to see him so sad! So glad I ran across your site!

    1. Oh, Liz, I am so sorry to hear of your injuries! And Poor Snoopy! My LEO also has terrible separation anxiety. I think the combination of melatonin and st. john's wort works very nicely and it still works great for LEO. He has much less stress. It is tricky to get the capsules into him as he tends to cheek the pills. I sometimes wrap it in cheese or mix it with a little olive oil to coat to get it down easier. Good Luck! Keep me posted. I hope Snoopy starts to do better soon!

  6. After reading about Leo, I started feeling more hope for my basset/golden mix, Carver. I adopted Carver from a shelter when he was a few months old. He was terrified from the first time I met him. He has good days and bad, but he has never been a ''normal'' dog.

    We have tried so much for this dog over the last two years. His vet prescribed him tranquilizers at first, but he wasn't a happy dog; he just slept. He then suggested Benadryl, which helped. With the Benadryl, we discovered that he loves to fetch. Socialization has not worked for the most part, as he shakes, pees, releases his anal glands, growls, twists in circles and cries loudly if he gets startled or sees something like a trash can or weird tree. I have successfully taken him hiking, so long as no one is around and it is quiet on the trail (I use a harness and a collar with two leashes as a back up because he spins and death rolls like a croc if he has a severe panic attack).

    So far, we use a combination of crate training, melatonin, benadryl, quiet home environment, exercise, and healthy diet to help keep him calm. He has his good moments, where he plays ball, yips around like a puppy and loves his people, but several times a day he gets triggered by something obvious (a firework or a pan dropping) or some other yet to be identified thing, and he hide behind the couch or in his crate for hours or days.

    Recently, he has started pulling his fur out and eating it. We ended up shaving his beautiful red coat off until we can get him calmed down again.

    After discussing it some more with the people involved in his care, we decided to try the St. John's Wort. Today is day one of the new regimen (300 mg St. John's Wort in the A.M., 300 mg at night, with 3 mg Melatonin at night).

    Your story about Leo has been helpful. I hope Carver and I can have similar success with this next step. I appreciate your sharing Leo's story.

  7. Oh No! Poor Carver! Poor you! I am so glad this blog post helped! I also use Benadryl for Leo! It's about the only thing that really takes the edge off when there is a lot of weather! I think you will have good luck with the regime you're doing! I am so happy to hear from you and I hope you have a blog that I can check out! I wish you lots of luck!!!!🙏 Carolyn

  8. Hi,
    I'm thinking of starting my dog on St john's wart.
    She has anxiety: shakes during storms, fireworks, jumps when she hears a loud noise and sometimes bites when she gets startled. She stops right away and has never broken anyone's skin, but I hate seeing her so scared. She's a very loving dog and I try to comfort her when she gets upset, but I can't always be home and even if I am she still gets upset, shakes and sometimes hides.

    I've tried a few different brands of calming pills you get at pet stores and none of them have helped.

    The thing that has stopped me from trying St. Johns wart is that i'm worried about her getting sick.
    Has anyone ever had their dog have a bad reaction or get bad side effects from St. Johns wart?
    Also what would the dose be for an 11lb dog?

    Thank you in advance for any help!!

  9. Hi Amber, I can only speak of my own experience, but leo has never gotten any adverse reactions from St. John's Wort. As far as the dosing goes, I'm really not sure since Leo is almost 50 pounds. I don't know if you could ask your Vet? I have had great results with Melatonin as well! I give him 5mg at night and the St. John's Wort, I give him 2 pills in morning & 2 at night, 300mg each pill. I also tried everything and nothing worked. The Vet would give you Prosac but you just need to do bloodwork first. I wanted to try natural meds before I tried that. Also it's important to never give any meds even natural without talking to the Vet & making sure not to mix with other medications your dog may be on.
    I wish you lots of love luck! Anxiety is horrible and it takes a toll on all who are around it!

  10. Im guessing st johns wart isnt for every dog.. I woke up this morning to find a half dissolved St. Johns wart in the bathroom (i guess i dropped it last night) my dog he is only 8/9 months old and is a yorkie must have got a hold of it. But i woke up this morning to find him not so his bouncy and jumpy happy self. He appeared as if he was high. Like he had been sedated. I could see him trembling, and having a hard time walking. As i went into my room i hear him in the kitchen throwing up. As he layed there next to it i could tell there is something serious going on. At this point im a little terrified for my fur baby! I got another persons opinion on it and once he seen the dog he said right away somethings not right! So i just took the dog to the vet and they will be calling me by 3:30 its 1:51 right now. They will be doing blood work and etc. On him. I just hope and pray he will be okay.. I havent changed any of his food or anything different. I have been reading everyones comments about there dogs takong St. johns Wart and no one has said anything negative about it or thatbit has affected their dogs.. But this is the only things my dog has had. I pray that it is nothing serious and that lts just a stomach ache and it passes..

  11. Hello,

    I know you posted this blog a long while back but I am so glad I found it. My pup is 6 months old and has moderate, sometimes severe, separation anxiety. I have tried pretty much all of the remedies available at pet shops along with training and absolutely nothing as worked. My vet prescribed Clomicalm for him but it is very expensive and sadly I don't think I will be able to afford it. Reading your blog makes me eager to try the St John's wort. I am at my wits end and willing to try anything.

    How much does it cost you to use the St John's wort if you don't mind me asking? Also, where is it you buy it from? finally, now that it's later on down the line, does it still work for you? Have you been able to decrease dosage or cease treatment altogether; what is your progress?

    Thank you so much in advance :)

  12. Hello. I can't speak for everyone but with my dog, I weaned him off St. John's Wort after a year and only use melatonin occasionally as needed. He's 5 years old now and has since moved with my parents to a larger ranch outside of the city. I think the exercise and quieter environment helped a lot. St. John's Wort is relatively inexpensive, and a good brand can be found at vitamin store like GNC or Vitamin Shoppe. I spent about 10 bucks a bottle. Also, talk to your vet about this so she can help with dosage.


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