Anxious, stressed dogs. For many owners, and the dog self, a big problem. Barking, jumping, restless behavior, even aggressive behavior. No pleasure for both dogs and owners. Medications are often semi-narcotic, and behavioral training does not always do the job.
In humans there has been a long time look at the effects of food supplements on mood. Also in veterinary medicine there is now more interest in this, especially for the so-called probiotics, the beneficial bacteria. In humans, there is evidence that probiotics indeed have positive, sometimes negative, effects on the emotional state. The effect seems to be based on the influence of probiotics on bacteria that are already naturally present in our body, such as, for example, Helicobacter pylori.
If probiotics also would work with dogs, it wpould offer plenty of opportunities. Probiotics are easy to obtain, in general harmless to give and simple to give.
Recently researchers at the Nestlé Purina Institute in the US presented the latest results in this field. In a research situation anxious dogs received the bacterium Bifidobacterium longum, a probiotic which in humans and rats had shown a positive effect on anxious behavior. 24 Labradors were tested in a double blind, placebo controlled study. For 6 weeks probiotics was given to 12 of them, the others receiving placebo. Thereafter, they was a three weeks washout in which nothing was given, then the placebo-group got for six weeks the "real" product, and vice versa. During the entire period the dogs were followed in their behavior and tested.
The investigation showed that the dogs actually showed less stress. Also physiological characteristics of stress decreased measurably. The researcher, Mcgowan, had also previously shown similar effects in providing omega-3 fatty acids. The behavior of the dogs was stable, the barking decreased, and other stress behaviors like jumping, pacing, etc. diminished. There was also less stress hormone (cortisol) found in the saliva of the dogs, a decrease of 83%. Heart rate decreased in 75% of the dogs.
This kind of research is not completely new, already in 2005 researchers found similar results in shelter dogs. Only there there was never any follow-up on this research.
McGowan, however, still puts the emphasis on limited results. Before actually this can be given as treatment with more or less predictable results, there is still much more research needed.
Bifidobacterium Longum is available in multi-formula products, and also in single formula. do consult your local vet before administering.