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Calming Herbs 1: Valerian

Updated: Nov 5



As we approach fireworks season, there are calming herbs that can help pets who are scared of the noise. Today’s spotlight is on Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis), a tall hardy perennial native to Europe and western Asia. The roots are a gentle anxiolytic, muscle relaxant and natural sedative due to several active phyto-compounds.

Valerian comes in various preparations. For animals I would start with the dried root. It very stinky for humans (a bit like smelly socks!) but very popular with cats in particular. Animals will sniff it, chew it, and even roll on it. Valerian dried root is safe for rabbits and guinea pigs too. It creates a feeling of calm after the initial excitement. The dried pieces of root may be left on the ground for your pet to interact with as they please, perhaps best in the garden to avoid the stinky stuff around your human companions!


There is also a valerian hydrosol which can be spritzed around the room to help create a calming space or sprayed onto a cloth for your pet to inhale or rub on to. A hydrosol spray is not as pungent as the dried root which may be easier on your nose.


Thirdly, there is valerian essential oil. With dogs it is safe for them to sniff and even lick it if they choose. However, with cats you must be careful with essential oils - only allow them to inhale from a short distance. Never let your cat lick an essential oil nor get any on their skin as it can potentially cause toxicity. Inhalation however can be very therapeutic for cats if done correctly and safely. My preference would be to start with the dried valerian root as cats tend to prefer that anyway.

It is best to plan ahead if you are anticipating firework noise and begin with the calming herbs while your pet is still relatively relaxed. Once they have full on anxiety it is harder to calm that down as the adrenaline reaches its peak. So create a calming safe space well in advance. Bring outdoor rabbits and guinea pigs indoors if you can. For more help contact Rita who will be happy to give free advice. Stay safe and well.


Note: Always follow the principles of self-selection; never force a remedy on an animal nor mix it in food. Valerian in large doses can cause stomach upset, so only allow your animal to take as much as it needs.

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