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Health & Nutrition
Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD

Ashwagandha For Dogs: Can It Help In Reducing Stress And Anxiety?


Ashwagandha, a renowned adaptogen in human health, is increasingly being explored for its potential benefits in dogs. Native to regions like India, this herb has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to help the body manage stress. For dogs, it might offer benefits like reduced anxiety, increased energy, healthier inflammatory processes, and immune health. However, usage in dogs comes with caution: it's essential to ensure proper dosage and to be mindful of potential side effects or interactions with other medications. While some vets might be skeptical due to limited research, holistic vets are generally more open to its use. It's advised to start with a small dose, preferably mixed in food, and monitor the dog's response. Avoiding ashwagandha use in pets in certain situations, like pregnancy, pre-surgery, or concurrent medication, is advised. Always consult with a vet before introducing any new supplement to your pet's regime.



Ashwagandha has been used as a potent adaptogen to reduce stress and anxiety in humans with much success. But is this herb safe and effective for our canine companions? The growing trend in pet health care is to tap into the potential of natural supplements, and ashwagandha is no exception. This article provides detailed information on the benefits and safety concerns of ashwagandha for dogs.




What is Ashwagandha?



Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, is a perennial shrub native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East. It has been an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to promote calm and enhance longevity. 

The ashwagandha root is famous for its adaptogenic properties, meaning it can help the body manage and adapt to stress by calming the nervous system and balancing cortisol levels, the body's most important stress hormone. 

Studies suggest that ashwagandha root extract also has beneficial effects on low thyroid function, sexual health, sleep issues, and immunity, and even may support healthy blood sugar in humans. [1] 




The Benefits Of Ashwagandha For Dogs



  1. Stress Relief and Anxiety Reduction: Just like in humans, ashwagandha can potentially help dogs cope with stress and anxiety. Many dog owners report a calmer temperament when giving their furry friend ashwagandha. Whether the source of distress is due to environmental changes, loud noises, or separation anxiety, this herb may offer some relief if your dog is prone to nervousness.

  2. Improved Energy Levels: Some dog owners and holistic vets have reported a noticeable boost in energy in older dogs or those with chronic diseases.

  3. Anti-inflammatory Properties: The active components in ashwagandha, such as withanolides, have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, potentially benefiting dogs suffering from inflammatory conditions.

  4. Supporting Immune Health: The herb may boost the immune system; in theory, this could potentially provide additional protection against common illnesses dogs may face. 

[2] [3]



Safety Concerns When Using Ashwagandha For Dogs


  1. Dosage Matters: An overdose can lead to complications such as diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy in dogs.

  2. Interaction with Other Medications: If your dog is on medications, especially those related to the thyroid, anxiety, or depression, there could be potential interactions. Always consult with a veterinarian.

  3. Quality of Supplements: Not all supplements are made equal. It’s essential to ensure that the ashwagandha you're using for your pet is of high quality and comes from the ashwagandha root extract, as opposed to the leaves, which can be toxic.

  4. Side Effects Of ashwagandha: While uncommon, some dogs might experience side effects like stomach upset or hyperactivity. It’s always crucial to observe your dog after introducing any new supplement.



What Do Veterinarians Have to Say?



Most traditional veterinarians rely on evidence-based medicine, and there isn't a plethora of scientific research on the effects of Ashwagandha on dogs. Therefore, many might not recommend it as a primary treatment. However, holistic veterinarians who look into alternative therapies and treatments might be more open to trying an Ashwagandha supplement for dogs, especially when other treatments don’t yield the desired outcomes. [4]

Always remember to consult your veterinarian before giving Ashwagandha or any other supplement to your dog. Each dog is different; what works for one might not necessarily work for another.



How to Use Ashwagandha For Dogs



Ashwagandha is available in a variety of forms for pets. It is often found in calming chews for dogs experiencing stress and anxiety but can also be found in liquid form or as a root powder to add to food.


  1. Right Dosage: The dosage will vary based on the weight of your dog and the specific condition being treated. Always seek professional advice from a vet in order to determine the recommended dosage.

  2. Opt for Quality: Choose a high-quality, organic ashwagandha powder or extract without fillers or additives. The label should indicate that it's suitable for pets or has been third-party tested for purity.

  3. Introduce Gradually: Ask your vet to begin with the smallest dosage possible and gradually increase it. This way, you can observe potential reactions and ensure your pet tolerates the herb well.

  4. Mix with Food: The simplest way to give ashwagandha to your dog is by mixing it in their food.

  5. Monitor and Adjust: Keep a close eye on your pet after starting the supplement. Note any positive or negative changes in their behavior, energy levels, or overall health.



When Should Ashwagandha Be Avoided in Dogs?


Ashwagandha, while showing potential benefits for stress and anxiety in dogs, is not without its contraindications and cautions. Here are situations when ashwagandha should be avoided in dogs:

  1. Pregnancy and Lactation: The safety of ashwagandha for pregnant or lactating dogs has not been sufficiently studied. It's best to avoid giving this herb to dogs during these periods to prevent any potential adverse effects on puppies or fetal development.

  2. Thyroid Conditions: Ashwagandha may influence thyroid hormone levels. If your dog has a thyroid condition or is on thyroid medication, using ashwagandha could alter the treatment's efficacy or worsen the condition.

  3. Dogs on Medication: If your dog is taking certain medications—especially those related to the treatment of anxiety, depression, or any hormone-related conditions—you should be cautious. Ashwagandha might interact with these medications, potentially amplifying or reducing their effects.

  4. Pre-surgery: As with many supplements, it's advisable to discontinue the use of ashwagandha before surgical procedures due to its potential to interact with anesthetics or other medications used during surgery.

  5. Gastrointestinal Disorders: Be cautious if your dog has a sensitive stomach or gastrointestinal disorders. Ashwagandha can cause stomach upset in some dogs.

  6. Autoimmune Diseases: Ashwagandha can stimulate the immune system. If your dog has an autoimmune disease, the herb might increase the symptoms of the disease.

  7. Allergic Reactions: As with any new supplement or food, there's a chance that a dog could be allergic. If you notice signs of an allergic reaction, such as itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing, discontinue use immediately and consult a veterinarian.

  8. Young Puppies: It's best to be cautious when considering supplements for very young animals. Their bodies are still developing, and introducing external agents can be somewhat more unpredictable.

NB: In all cases, if you're considering giving Ashwagandha to your dog, it's essential to consult with a veterinary professional first. They can provide guidance tailored to your pet's specific health profile and needs.


Zaheera Swing
Nutritional Therapist & Herbalist BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD
As a qualified Nutritional Therapist (BSc Hons Nutritional Science + NTPD), Zaheera Swing has a deep passion for restoring balance and harmony to the body through the modalities of nutritional science, herbalism, and holistic lifestyle practices. Using the functional medicine model coupled with wisdom from ancient paradigms, she aims to provide insight into the underlying root causes of poor health and the holistic tools we can harness to enhance the well-being of mind, body, and spirit.
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