The ability to think clearly in stressful environments is key to being able to do well. But what is the secret to thinking clearly? How can we channel or change our natural nervous response into something useful?
I used to joke with nervous students that I would slip a Benedryl into their morning drink at competitions. But that is definitely not a solution that will enhance focus and therefore improve performance. Anything that elicits a sedative-type response creates slower reactions and cognition. To be the best, you want to improve your reaction time and clarity in thinking…not slow them down. Is there a way to do that?
Well, recently, in an effort to find a solution to firework sensitivity in dogs, I found an answer: Composure.
Now, here’s the really awesome thing…while people have to work hard at learning composure* our dogs, thanks to VetriScience, now have a shortcut: Composure™ chews made with a calming formula to help support balanced behavior without acting as a sedative!
How is this possible?
Composure™ chews are comprised of three active ingredients: Thiamine (Vitamin B1), C3™ (Colostrum Calming Complex), and L-Theanine (Suntheanine® brand).
How do these ingredients help dogs exhibiting anxiety and stress achieve a calmer state without sedation?
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is a B vitamin that helps the brain focus and function better. This amazing vitamin can literally help improve cognitive abilities! How? Studies have shown Thiamine is an amino acid and can aid in the production of serotonin, a natural chemical in the brain that affects mood, particularly, that of well-being and happiness.
C3 (Colostrum Calming Complex) is a VetriScience secret formula. Even still, VetriScience shared with me the background behind the discovery of this active ingredient. The discovery occurred when one of the VetriScience veterinarians, working with big cats (tiger and jaguar kittens), noticed that these large kittens would be playful/crazy, nurse, then rapidly become calm. After forming a hypothesis, the doctor began research, and discovered the same components that create dopamine, serotonin, and other mood regulating hormones in the brain are in colostrum. Thus, the C3 ingredient was born.
L-Theanine is derived from tea leaves and may help relieve stress by inducing a relaxing effect without drowsiness and may also possess immunologic attributes. Theanine may also have effects on the cardiovascular system and play a preventative role in cancer; however, limited clinical information is available to support these claims.
But VetriScience didn’t stop at using impressive active ingredients. They went one step further and had a field trial on Composure™. The field trial had over 50 dogs and cats who tested the products with their owners. Approximately 80% of the owners reported a positive response.
When I asked VetriScience about the possibility of running a test myself, they sent me Composure™ for my dogs, and six of my students’ or friends’ dogs. Here are our results:
Porky is my rescue Chihuahua who has been sound-sensitive since the day I brought her home. This 4th of July and Monsoon season would be her first. I was concerned that her sensitivity that we had been working on so hard would take a big backward slide with so much stressful stimulus. I am very picky about what products my pets get, and after reading the ingredients and the results of the focus group, I felt very comfortable giving it to her. Porky LOVED the taste of the Composure™ and while it did not take away her alert response to the noises of fireworks or thunder, it did drastically lessen her fearful response. Instead of shaking, running, or attempting to hide as she had on previous occasions, she would instead simply look in the direction of the noise then carry on about her business. The other major plus to this product, is it did not reduce her drive or activity at all! In fact, we even ran in an agility class during fireworks! It was amazing!
“I give the VetriScience Composure™ ★★★★ for last night! I gave Ginger one tab about 1pm, just to see if there was an adverse reaction, and there wasn’t. Also gave her one about 8pm, once I saw lightning in the sky and the wind really picked up. Her stress reaction was so different versus the night before, hardly any reaction, just a little mild panting. Tonight will be another test, because of all of the fireworks. I highly recommend!”
Ruger & Lady
“The dogs loved VetriScience Composure™. I gave them Composure™ before a thunder storm and they handled the storm better than they ever have. I can’t wait to try these out at an agility trial!”
Libby & Romeo
“I gave the minimum dose of Composure™ to both pups on July 4th about an hour before the local fireworks started. They both still freaked out and shook hard, but it was better than other years just not substantially. Where I did notice a great improvement was how much faster they calmed down once most booms and bangs stopped.”
“We used it on the fourth of July for the fireworks. We live quite close to a neighborhood that sets fireworks off early and often. We gave Casper one dose when they started while still light out. We gave her a second dose when it got dark and quite a few were going off. Normally Casper would hide in a dark place like a closet and would refuse to be coaxed out. With Composure™ she laid on the couch with us the whole time. She panted heavily, drooled, but stayed with us. That never happened before. That was with a double dose.
We also used Composure™ for a thunderstorm the next evening. On only a single dose, she was able to lay on floor by family, not go hide,
I liked it because it worked quickly, within around 15 min. There was no
residual, lingering effects the next day. She was back to her usual self.
Casper also liked the taste.
I would definitely use it again and recommend it to friends!”
How should you use Composure™?
Typically there is a result within the first 20 minutes of administration. So VetriScience suggests giving Composure™ at least a half hour before the stressful event (fireworks, competitions, thunderstorms, and so on). Depending on the severity of the stressful situation, it is safe to give up to triple the suggested dose of Composure™.
How else can I achieve composure for myself and my dog?
I am a firm believer that supplementation alone is not enough to achieve the best results in myself or my dog. So, here are some tips to help you and your dog achieve composure in stressful situations:
- Play – Both you and your dog will feel less stressed after a fun game of tug, chase, or retrieve.
- Deep breaths – You can’t ask your dog to take deep breaths, but you can pet them slowly from the base of their neck to the base of their tale as you take deep breaths yourself. The slow, rhythmic petting will help calm them (and you) at the same time.
- Focus on good things – Give your dog a new chewie or a stuffed bone. While they’re busy enjoying their new treat, take the time to visualize a positive outcome for whatever is causing you stress (instead of worrying about the possibility of failure, focus on the possibility of success).
- Counter-condition – Pair scary things with positive experiences and pretty soon those things aren’t as scary. For dogs, be sure to keep them under threshold (far enough away from the scary thing that they are willing to eat or play).
Enter to win Composure™
There is NO COST to enter to win, but if you would rather not enter the giveaway, you can purchase Composure for Medium and Large Dogs and Composure for Small Dogs on Amazon today!
*VetriScience has a Composure™ for humans product that I will be testing in the next couple months. I will provide a link to that review here.
About the giveaway: No purchase necessary. Giveaway is open to US residents only, except where prohibited by law. Giveaway will run from July 25th through August 1st, 2015 at 11:59pm MST. Two (2) winners will be randomly selected and notified via email. Winners will have 48 hours to claim their prizes; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize; at such time a new winner shall be randomly selected. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest do not sponsor, administer, or endorse this promotion. By entering this giveaway, participants have read and agree to the terms stated in The Better Focus Giveaway Official Rules. By entering this contest, participants grant permission for their email address to be added to the Kama Loves Agility newsletter list**.
**Participants may unsubscribe at any time following the end of the giveaway should they so choose.
Wow, that is really interesting. I wonder if it could help Kilo on walks reacting to other dogs. I may give it a try. I do think that calming down after nursing may also have something to do with sucking. My daughter sucked on a bottle for years to calm herself and Kilo often needs to chew and suck. Wonderful if there is also a natural calming product.
Kama ♥'s Agility
It is definitely worth a try. If it helps, be sure to let me know!
Cookie loves doing things with me but outside it’s always much harder – with her being an avid hunter, there are always distractions.
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady
This was a great article, very interesting, thanks!!!
I’m glad to hear that the Composure Chews worked so well for your dogs! Anxiety and fear are very difficult reactions to handle both for the pet and the owner. My kitties will be trying out the Composure Chews for cats very soon. 🙂
Kama ♥'s Agility
Awesome! You’ll have to let me know if it works as well for cats.
Tenacious Little Terrier
Interesting. I’ve heard of people giving Rescue Remedy to their dogs and taking some themselves!
Kama ♥'s Agility
I have tried Rescue Remedy in the past with my dogs and did not notice near as much of a difference as I did with Composure. However, each body is different, so it is good to know the different products that are available to make sure you find the best one for you and/or your dog.
I have used products by this company before and they are amazing 🙂 thank you so much for this article I will share it and save it thank you thank you!
Kama ♥'s Agility
Thank you for the amazing feedback! You are welcome 🙂
This is really fascinating! It looks like you had some great results in your own testing. My Husky is really scared of fireworks & thunder, we’ve been trying to desensitize her but it’s not worked very well – I think we didn’t start early enough. This could be a good solution.
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Kama ♥'s Agility
Sometimes, like my Chihuahua, even with early desensitization training you can still have a very sensitive dog. That’s why it is so nice to have a product like this available!
That’s really cool! Helping a dog calm down with training works, but it really helps for them to have that calmness coming from within. Sounds like a great set of ingredients, thanks for going in-depth about them. We have to try this soon!
Kama ♥'s Agility
You’re welcome! I really noticed a difference with this product, so I was excited to share my opinion on it. Make sure you enter the giveaway so you can try Composure for free!
Love the suggestions of using play & counter conditioning, we’ve had a lot of success with both of those thus far. I’d love to try these chews – every bit of help when dealing with anxiety & fear helps.
I had not heard of Composure before but looks like a good product!
Kama ♥'s Agility
I really like it! And I hadn’t heard of it either, until Blog Paws 🙂
So glad these worked out well for you! It’s certainly worth a try for us. It was always hard for us to find balance between being tired and therefore less anxious and too tired and distracted at agility.
It's Dog or Nothing
We got this to try at BlogPaws for Mauja’s anxiety. For some reason, she started to become nervous in buildings, which is why she stayed in the room with my husband most of the time. These definitely helped take the edge off when I wanted to get a picture of Mauja and Atka in the exhibit hall.
Kama ♥'s Agility
Did she get nervous at Blog Paws or did it start before that? How old is she? I’m glad to hear it worked for you too. I tend to be skeptical of these types of products, so I was really impressed when I saw an improvement after using it!
I would love to try them for anxiety especially when there are fireworks