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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Can a food help your dog calm down? Yes!

Bella learning how to be less agitated
Royal Canin diets recently released a new dry food for dogs and cats called CALM.  We had a presentation about it at our office about 3 weeks ago.  It certainly looked promising so I thought I would try it on my dog Bella since she still goes crazy barking at times..  I have posted about Bella in the past, and she has made a lot of progress over her 3 years, but I thought I would see if this food could help her focus better and be a bit less reactive at times.

Here is a  little back ground about the food.  This diet was developed by Royal Canin for dogs and cats that show signs of anxiety.  The diet is formulated for dogs under 44 lbs and cats of normal weight.  The food supplements vitamin b3, tryptophane and a milk protein calming complex.  I was curious to see if the food could make a difference in a dog larger than 44 lbs ( Bella weighs 49 lbs).  The levels of the supplements are appropriate for  dogs up to 44 lbs, but as dogs get larger the volume they do not eat that much more food so the supplement level is not likely to be enough to help.  So Bella is 5 lbs over the top limit, but I thought it would still be worth a try.

I started Bella at 50% CALM and 50% of her Science Diet k9 adult food for 5 days, then onto CALM 100%.  She has been on the CALM for 2 weeks.  The company says it may take up to 2 weeks to see a benefit.  I have been keeping a chart of how upset she gets - barking, lunging, and can not come when called when she sees other dogs, squirrels, and other triggers.

I happened to see her laying here patiently waiting for me
Within the first few days, Bella would only bark 3-4 times at noises outside and was not as ballistic over the neighborhood cat that hangs around.  She would come when called much more readily too. 1 week at 100% calm I am seeing more improvement.  She was able to walk past a home with a barking little dog in the yard and did not bark or pull at the leash wanting to get after that dog.  This morning my neighbor was walking down the alley as Bella played in the yard.  She stared barking but after just 2 or 3 barks she came to me when called which normally would have been very difficult.  In the mornings, she settles in her bed after eating and going out much more easily.

At times, Bella is still naughty or is still reactive.  She got a hold of the empty bag that was left on a counter and shredded it up.  Can I blame her? It must have smelled good and of course the shredding of the bag was fun. She also got off her harness when she got tangled up in the bushes the other day. At least her romp through the neighborhood was much shorter and she came to me when I called her much more readily than she has in the past. 

A well shredded bag of CALM - thanks Bella!
I will have to see how she continues to do on the CALM diet.  It is a bit pricey - suggested retail is about $50 for a 9 lb bag.  The cost of some supplements with the cost of dog food is about equal to the cost of this food.  Feeding a diet that can help your dog be less stressed and learn how to be less anxious in situations is far more convenient than medications.  As Bella learns she may not need to stay on this diet.  I will definitely keep you posted on her progress!


nancy snook said...

I am glad to hear Bella is doing better. Is she coming up and meeting strangers any better than she was before?? and if so, do you think the food is helping that also?? Nancy Snook

Dr. Sally J. Foote DVM said...

Today Bella did not pull at the leash, bark or act timid of a man walking right behind us as we came uptown to work. This is big for her. She can focus much better now. We will start with counter conditioning with strangers this week.

Anonymous said...

Bella sounds exactly like my Dobe, Vin.
He is nearly two years old, over 35kg and is hyperactive, reactive to the tiniest of stimuli and hyper-vigilant.
I hope I can find something like 'Calm' dog food in Australia.


MinPinMoments said...

I have been researching the Royal Canin CALM and a search led me to your site. Did you find this food to be worthwhile and keep your dog on it? Or, did it not end up being successful? I ask these questions because my dogs' vet behaviorist just recommended this food.

Dr. Sally J. Foote DVM said...

Yes, this food does help alot. My own dog Bella stays on this food and it helps her behavior. I use this often for my clients.