using valerian root for dogsYou’ve probably heard of Valerian in use as an herbal sedative, which is exactly why we’re discussing it in this article, because Valerian is a natural and safe herbal option for dogs as well as humans.

It is renowned as a safe and gentle herbal treatment that does not alter the brain like alcohol or pharmaceutical sedatives do.

Valerian is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe and different parts of Asia, but it’s also been introduced to North America.

Sometimes called garden valerian, garden heliotrope and all-heal, the valerian we’re talking about today, is not the same as what you’re likely to find in gardens. That type is known as red valerian, but it is actually a different species.

Valerian blooms from May to July and is found in soils with a considerable degree of moisture retention. As mentioned, there are several native species in North America now – most are found in the western portions of the continent, but it has also shown up in New England.

Therapeutic Uses

The fall root  is the part of the herb that is used in forming treatment options. Sometimes the upper parts of the plant are used, but they provide a weaker form of medicine and do not have the more potent effects of the fall root.

  • Valerian is a top choice for herbalists when it comes to prescribing sedatives.It is used to calm anxiety in dogs and also can relax the body in cases of physical pain. Herbalists have prescribed Valerian in cases where dogs have fears of thunderstorms, for instance, because its calming effects help mitigate the anxiety. As you might imagine, a little Valerian can also help calm down shaky dogs on trips to the vet or other unsavory places. Schnauzerama.org also shares how shares information on how to use this herb.
  • It is sometimes used to help reduce the severity and frequency of seizures in epileptic animals.  However, Valerian Root works best when combined with other herbs for dogs suffering from seizures. Doctor Ackermans Seizure & Epilepsy Formula works well for many pet owners. But, if your dog is a high stress, nervous or fearful dog, Calm and Relax formula is highly recommended in conjunction with Dr. Ackermans formula on a daily basis.  Lastly, for dogs suffering from seizures,  a diet tailored to the needs of these dogs is critical.  Home Cooking for Sick Dogs includes 3 recipes for the crock pot for epileptic dogs and dogs experiencing seizures.
  • If you are using valerian as a sedative, it is most effective in small doses over the course of several days. You should use doses several times a day, especially in anticipation of a high anxiety event like the aforementioned trip to the vet. Dogs should be treated with five drops of tincture three or four times a day starting about three days prior to the anxiety event.
  • Can be used as a treatment for upset stomachs and spastic colons. In these instances, you should use a smaller dosage (0.25 to 0.5 milliliters of tincture for every 30 pounds of dog with a frequency of two to three times a day). A larger dose may lead to vomiting.

Dosage

Valerian can be used in both powder or tincture for your dog and the dosage is based on the human dosage.  Both can be placed directly on your dog’s food if this makes it easier. If using Valerian in powder form, 4mg per lb is recommended.

  • Small dogs: One quarter of human dosage
  • Medium dogs: One half of human dosage
  • Large dogs: Full dosage

Preventative Measures

image of german shepherd for our article on using valerian for dogsAs mentioned, you need to be careful with the dosage when using valerian as a treatment for upset stomachs. Because of its soap-like consistency, it may cause some adverse reactions in dogs. This is not always the case, but there are reasons to be cautious.

Also, it does have the opposite effect in some dogs (and humans) when it’s used as a calming agent and a sedative. Some dogs (and humans) actually experience valerian as a stimulant.

*Keep in mind that you should not suddenly stop valerian; instead you should slowly wean your dog off the herb.

Reasons to Use

It is important to remember that valerian is as safe a sedative as you’re going to get for your dog. It is available through most herbal retailers and you can also purchase the plants in many nurseries. For dogs with anxiety issues or to mitigate the effects of high anxiety events, it’s definitely a nice option to have in your medicine cabinet.

References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen

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Showing 37 comments
  • Charlotte
    Reply

    I am using Valerian oil as a calming spray for a friends dog who is fearful of storms. Can you also give the oils to them orally and if so…how would you give it to them? I have another friend who will use the same calming spray to calm a dog who has separation anxiety…so I am curious if this would help him as well?

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi Charlotte:

      You have to be very careful with essential oils. I recommend that you give 5 drops of the tincture 3-4 times daily over several days.

      Janie

  • Ana
    Reply

    I have Valerian Root and cannot find a recipe for using it with dogs. Do you have any recomendations?

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Do you have in tincture or dried herb form? Are you looking for dosage Ana?

      Janie

  • Maryann
    Reply

    I have dried bvalerian root and would like to use to make ” doggie” cookies. How much valerian (ground) and how much peanut butter, honey and oats?

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Maryann, you need to search out a recipe. I have no idea.

      Janie

      • Laura
        Reply

        Did you find a recipe?

  • Laura
    Reply

    I will be moving in a month and want to keep my high-anxiety dog as calm as possible during the process without putting him on prescription medication. I have never made a tincture and would need to get started on that now in order to be ready for the move. Is the dried herb in capsule form noticeably less effective? Can you keep giving to dog as long as necessary? And would the dosage still be 5 drops several times a day for a dog weighing 20-25 lbs? Thanks!

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      You can try the capsule form; I just prefer tincture because they’re usually stronger.

      If using powder form, the dosage is 4mg per pound. If using tincture, I would give a 1/4 or a little more of the human dose. You can purchase a tincture here. If you use the tincture, just administer the drops inside your dog’s lip or jowl.

      You should only use this when needed. It should be be for those certain times. Don’t use it daily forever. I don’t know what you mean by “Did I find a recipe.”

      Janie

      • Laura
        Reply

        Hi thanks for your reply! I meant to comment that on another commenter’s post asking about a recipe for valerian cookies.

        • yourolddog
          Reply

          You’re welcome Laura. Now the recipe question makes sense…. 🙂

  • Luciana Cullis
    Reply

    Hello
    Can my dog take valerian if he is on levatarecitam and lactose. He suffers from seizures due to to toxins building up from a liver condition.

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Luciana:

      Are you looking to give Valerian for the seizures?

      I’m not sure if you know this, but seizures can often be helped through diet, supplements, eliminating chemical flea and tick products and vaccinating. I would definitely start giving your dog dandelion for the liver. What type of food do you feed?

      Janie

      • Luciana
        Reply

        Hi Janie, thank you for your reply. We are giving him lactulose and levatarecitam alongside purina h/a food to control his seizures. However because of his condition he is a very timid and anxious dog and sometimes can get aggressive. What i mean by this is, if we leave him to go out shopping or to work he gets all worked up barking and tries to bite our ankles to stop us leaving. I have been told that this could be due to his condition. I would like to purchase a product that would calm him down a little which is why i mentioned Valerian maybe in a capsule form. But would this interact with his other medication or would he be fine taking this supplement on top of his other meds. Luciana

        • yourolddog
          Reply

          Hi Luciana:

          I would not feed a dog with seizures Purina H/A food. The ingredients in this food are nothing a dog was ever intended to eat. Corn starch is the first ingredient. Your dog is a carnivore Luciana and if you read the ingredients on this food, you can see that he is NOT receiving anything he needs nutritionally. Here’s the ingredients: Corn starch, modified isolated soy protein, water, coconut oil, dicalcium phosphate, canola oil preserved with TBHQ, cellulose, corn oil, potassium chloride, vegetable gums (gum arabic and guar gum), salt, choline chloride, DL-Methionine, magnesium oxide, lecithin, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin supplements (E, A, B-12, D-3), riboflavin supplement, manganese sulfate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, biotin, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, copper sulfate, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.

          First, I urge you to move away from this food and start to feed him what nature intended. PurePetFood in the UK makes a good dehydrated food. You simply add warm water. Food plays a VERY big role in seizures Luciana.

          With regards to her biting when people leave, don’t punish. The idea is to touch on his underlying emotional response. What I mean is, change your routine of leaving and make the leaving as nonchalant as possible. Don’t fuss. How do you do this? If you typically go get your keys, tell the dog you’re leaving and to be good, etc. Instead, start to change the trigger response which may be the keys, etc. So, go get your keys and just sit down with them.

          When you are actually going to leave the house, get your keys about a half an hour before you’re leaving and place them in your pocket and go sit down or do whatever it is you’re going to do. Don’t show the dog ANY attention at all 15 minutes before leaving or 15 minutes when arriving. When you get home, wait 15 minutes and then give a “hello” and maybe a treat.

          I hope this helps. With regards to using Valerian; I don’t know of any contradictions of using Valerian along with Levatarecitam. However, I still feel that you need to change his diet, work on his anxiety by not reinforcing his bad behavior by correcting him (correcting him just gives attention), avoid vaccinations and chemical flea and tick products. Avoid garbage dog treats and ONLY feed all natural, wholesome foods and treats. No rawhide or chicken jerky.

          Make him feel safe by providing love and affection. Please see the recommended dosage in my article.

          Janie

          • Luciana

            Hi Janie, thank you for your reply, however due to his condition i have been advised by a veterinary surgeon who operated on him, to keep him on a low protein diet so he recommended purina h/a alongside lactulose, As its the actual high levels of protein that gives him the seizures. His liver cannot dispose of these toxins which they then travel to his brain and trigger the seizures. He started having them at around 3 and he is now coming up to 7. He usually as one around every couple of months so i think we are controlling them well at the moment. But i think i will try him on the valerian and see if it helps him. Thank you for your help as i like to get different opinions especially if they are going to help him.

  • Paula
    Reply

    Can I treat my dog for anxiety using valerian if she takes Vetmedin?

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Paula:

      As far as I understand, it should be fine. See this page for interactions.

      Jane

  • Carrie
    Reply

    My German Shepherd suffers from separation anxiety and he also becomes unpredictable when company is around. Is it harmful to give a dog valerian root on a continued basis? His vet has prescribed Trazadone, but trying to see an alternative for him to take. My groomer suggested Valerian Root.

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Carrie:

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Valerian root is a very safe sedative and is safe for long term use, but should be avoided using daily and save it for those times your dog really needs it (eg: company, etc.). Keep in mind that it’s believed that Valerian Root may have an effect on anti-seizure medications.

      I also recommend that you couple Valerian Root with a Calming Jacket which also helps with Anxiety. It uses the compression method which shows to work with autistic children.

      Hope this helps.

      Janie

  • HelenR
    Reply

    Hi, we have two cocker spaniels who don’t worry about storms, loud noises, going in cars etc. They are both very happy outside and won’t come in at all. It stresses them more!! One is very placid but as he is getting older he appears to be barking more especially in the early hours of the morning. We always check outside to see if there is anything there to see what he is barking at. We think possibly as his hearing and sight is not as good as it was he may be getting a little anxious and gets a bit spooked. It was suggested today to use Valerian drops so hopefully, he can settle more at night. We are also concerned about the neighbours as they sleep on the same side as the dogs’s housing. Looking for a positive result.

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Helen:

      I would like to make a recommendation to you with regards to your dog barking in the early hours of the morning, etc. This is common when dogs become older; they will pace around at night when their owners are sleeping, they will bark, they will do things that are out of the ordinary.

      This is often times related to cognitive issues and can easily be helped with Ginkgo Biloba.

      Please let us know how it goes using the Valerian!

      Janie

  • Debi
    Reply

    My 18 month lab/pit is recovering from TPLO surgery due to torn CCL. He has become very anxious & stressed presumably due to activity & socialization restrictions during initial 6-8 weeks of recovery. I have a combination of valerian, tryptophan, & St. John’s wart (happy traveler) that has been helpful. Is it ok to use daily for a few weeks to help get thru this initial rehab phase?

    • yourolddog
      Reply

      Hi Debi:

      The Happy Traveler can be used on an as needed basis. It should be fine to use for the 6-8 week recovery period.

      I would definitely give it a break after that period though.

      Janie

      • Debi
        Reply

        Thank you!!

  • Weny Wisham
    Reply

    I’m having a very difficult time with the cost of my dog’s medication. She has some physical deformities and she started seizures a year ago. They have her on phenobarbital 30mg twice a day. I was working at my vet’s office to barter her med’s for my time. I have health issues that make that imposs. now. I bought valerian root 100 mg per capsule . She weighs 9 lbs. She will need it for the rest of her life. I have tried to cut her dosage of the phenabarb and she still has the seizures. She is my pet therapy dog. It would devistate me to have to re home her. Would it be safe to try her on the valerian root for long term use? The phenobarbitol is at the highest dose with out being toxic. I really need any advice I can get. Thanks
    Wendy

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Wendy:

      I’m sorry to hear about your little girl. It sounds like you’re going through a pretty hard time right now.

      I’m not sure what you’re feeding her, but diet is very important for dogs experiencing seizures. There’s a few things that I can recommend for you.

      First, my cookbook includes 3 crock pot recipes for dogs with Seizures. Most recipes are only 3-4 ingredients and developed specifically for dogs with seizures. The cost is $9.99.

      Along with the home cooked meal, instead of just including Valerian Root alone, I suggest that you use Dr. Ackerman’s formula for dogs with epilepsy or seizures. It includes Valerian Root, but additional herbs as well.

      If your little one is a fearful, nervous dog, I also suggest using Calm and Relax on a daily basis as well, along with Doc Ackermans formula.

      I hope this helps Wendy. If you have any other questions, please let me know. All of this would be better than a lifetime of Phenobarbitol.

      Janie

  • Weny Wisham
    Reply

    Thank you soo much. I will do every thing I can to make her as healthy and at home that I can. I’ve not been comfortable with her taking what I feel is a toxic drug. I will let you know how it goes. What dosage would you recommend for the other supplements?

  • janie
    Reply

    Hi Wendy:

    Since she’s 9 lbs., I would give her the 1 teaspoon daily (half in the morning and half in the evening with dinner) of Doc Ackermans formula.

    For the Calm and Relax formula, the dosage is 1 drop per 5 pounds of body weight per dose and can be doubled initially, or during acute situations. The Calm and Relax formula MUST be diluted. You can mix it with a small amount of warm water, natural apple juice or wet food. Shake it well and DO NOT USE IT UNDILUTED. If you want to double the dose initially, I would double it for 5 days and then move to the normal dosage.

    Please keep me posted okay. Your story may help someone else Wendy!

    Janie

  • Weny Wisham
    Reply

    How would I get your book, in book form?

    • janie
      Reply

      You can get it on Amazon for the same price in paper back. Here’s a link.

  • Caity & Doze the boxer
    Reply

    I’ve been using valerian oil/with chamomile and others as a mix I got from a local pet store, his vet recommended it for his sleeping problems (he shakes and yelps for hours on end through the night, and more than what is considered ‘normal’ for REM in dogs, which had led to him hurting himself before) it seems to work really really well, the last few nights I’ve tried it, he’s had really good sleep. But it upsets his stomach a little, he’s 75lbs and I give him .25 ml before bed. Should I cut it down even more? Recommended dose on the bottle says 1ml per 10 lbs but that seems like a lot, and even .5 ml made him sick the next day, .25 seems okay but still bothers him a bit. What’s s good point that’s small enough to not hurt his tummy but enough for it to really do its job?

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Caity & Doze:

      Thanks for writing in and I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you.

      Did the vet say what is causing the REM? Does Doze have any problems with his ears? REM is often related to Vestibular Disease in dogs and the disease is often associated with a brain lesion, ear problems or Idiopathic (this is what they call it when they are clueless as to why it’s happening).

      Were seizures ruled out?

      Let me know and I’ll do what I can to share some help.

      Janie

      • Caity&doze
        Reply

        No, they didn’t say what could be causing it, no seizures though. I’ve had him his whole life and he’s been in really good health at all of his checkups. The vet wanted me to try this oil before we take him in since he looked great at his last checkup, and it has been helping a lot! He only shook for a couple minutes on night in the last 4 days of using it. I just feel badly that’s it upsets his stomach a little. We haven’t noticed any problems with his ears but I will look into how I can find out

        • janie
          Reply

          If it’s upsetting his stomach, then instead of lowering the dose he’s on, I would include a little carbs (such as two dog treats) for him right before you give him the Valerian mixture.

          • Wendy

            After reading your article on dogs with seizures, and then doing some research on my own, I started Sissy on the valerian root. At first I only gave her that and half of the phenabarb. A practiced I’ve tried before, and the seizures came back. The vet said she wasn’t metablizing the meds properly, so that was why they put her on such a high dose. She had one seizure at nite (and yes I did step in it. She always vomits when she seizures). But I still let her nibble on dry dog when using the homemade dog food. I noticed when I cleaned up the mess it was only dog food that came up. I pulled the kibble I usually kept out for her, and only fed her the homemade. After two weeks she hasn’t had one seizure. I had to give her a higher dose of the valerian root because she can’t metabalize like other dogs. She does have birth defects,that you can see, so it makes sense that her poor little body has some more we can’t see. I intend trying to cut out all the meds they have her on. She is doing sooo much better, now I will make her doggie cookies for her to keep her teeth in good shape. Thanks for your input. At first I was thinking about cost of the meds, and the homemade costs just a little bit more. So easy to do, and I know what is going into her body.
            Thanks again for helping Sissy!

          • janie

            Hi Wendy:

            I’m so glad to hear that your little Sissy is doing much better. You’re very welcome. Remember to avoid chemical flea, tick and heart products and vaccinations for her.

            Keep doing what you’re doing, stay natural and give her body a fighting chance.

            Janie

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