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Autonomic Nervous System in Dogs and Cats

Pet supplements to help support the Autonomic Nervous System in dogs and cats.

Autonomic Nervous System in Dogs and Cats

Herbal nutrition to help relax the Autonomic Nervous System and help reduce stress in dogs and cats.

Animals commonly experience disruption to their body systems, including the Central and Autonomic Nervous systems, requiring a nutritional correction to help balance the nervous systems, help restore emotional balance, help reduce nervousness and help promote relaxation as well as feelings of comfort and security. 

Many dogs and cats experience emotional distress for a variety of reasons, including environmental and situational stress that can be episodic or chronic, related to traveling, boarding, daycare, vet and grooming visits; introduction into a new home or re-homing; loss of a family member or family pet; separation from owners; visiting guests; storms, transitional or traumatic events such as moving; competitive events; abuse, neglect and abandonment; deficiencies in diet (often related to processed foods including corn, wheat, soy, fillers, inferior proteins, chemicals, preservatives, etc).

General anxiety is also commonly experienced by our dogs and cats that includes irregular behaviors manifest as urine marking, excessive scratching, panting, trembling, shivering, aggression and depression.

The autonomic nervous system controls internal body functions that are not under conscious control in your dog or cat. When a dog or cat identifies or chases prey, the autonomic nervous system automatically increases their breathing rate and heart beat rate. The autonomic nervous system also dilates the blood vessels that carry blood to the muscles, releases glucose from the liver, and makes other internal adjustments to prep the body for a sudden and rapid increase in activity, like a chase. 

When the chase ends, your pet's nervous system automatically slows down all system processes and resumes normal body activities like supporting food digestion and regulating normal heart rate and blood pressure. The nerves of the autonomic nervous system originate in the spinal cord and pass signals between the vertebrae to support various organs.

There are two main parts to the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system.

The sympathetic system stimulates what is commonly referred to as "fight or flight" response that allows an animal to respond to a threat such as defending itself against another animal or person, as well as the perceived need to run in defense.  The sympathetic system increases heart and respiratory rates, and blood flow to muscles, while decreasing blood flow to the stomach and skin, until needed.  This response causes the pupils of the eye dilate and your dog and cat will feel an "adrenaline rush." 

The parasympathetic system has the opposite effect on the sympathetic system. It maintains the normal functions of a body in a state of relaxation, including normal digestion, elimination and urination, as well as maintains a regular heartbeat and breath rate.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which also includes the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

Our dogs and cats (and really, all animals) have complex nervous systems that receive and interpret sensory signals from the environment and then send out messages to direct the animal’s response. The complexity of an animal’s nervous system depends on its lifestyle and body plan.

Animals have a two-part nervous system: The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the animal’s brain and central neurons. It’s housed in the head and may continue along the back.

The peripheral nervous system (PNS) consists of all the nerves that travel from the CNS to the rest of the animal’s body.

The nervous system has three basic functions:

1. Sensory function senses changes both outside and inside the animal body. Outside the body, your dog's or cat's eyes will sense changes in light and their ears respond to sound waves. Inside the body, receptors in the stomach indicate when it is full and chemical receptors in the blood vessels monitor the acidity of the blood.

2. An integrative function occurs which includes the processing of information received from the sensory organs. The impulses from these organs are assessed and stored as memory. The varied impulses from different sources are sorted, synchronized, coordinated and the appropriate response is initiated. The complexity related to the power to integrate, remember and apply experience gives higher animals much of their superiority.

3. Motor function responds to stimuli that causes muscles to contract and the glands to secrete. All nervous tissue is made up of nerve cells or neurons. These transmit high-speed signals called nerve impulses, which are similar to an electric current.

In all animals with a backbone, the Central Nervous System consists of a brain and a spinal cord. The brain contains centers that process information from the sense organs, centers that control emotions and intelligence, and centers that regulate the physiological balance of the body (homeostasis). The spinal cord controls the flow of information to and from the brain.

Both the brain and the spinal cord are highly protected. They sit within a liquid called cerebrospinal fluid that guards the Central Nervous System against shocks caused by movement and they're protected by the bones of the skull and vertebrae. The Central Nervous System also supports the brain and spinal cord by supplying nutrients and helping to remove wastes.

The blood-brain barrier, which is created by the capillaries surrounding the brain, provides yet another layer of protection because the capillaries are highly selective about what they allow to enter the brain or cerebrospinal fluid, and is a critical component in maintaining whole body health. A final layer of protection is the meninges, two layers of connective tissue that surround the brain and spinal cord.

From the Central Nervous System, the nervous system branches off into the PNS, this is divided into two systems:

Somatic nervous system: Part of the Parasympathetic Nervous System, the somatic system carries signals to and from the skeletal muscles and controls many of your dog and cat's voluntary responses to its environment.

Autonomic nervous system: Control mostly involuntary internal processes in the body, such as heart beat and digestion. It has two divisions that work in opposition to each other to maintain balance (homeostasis).

Helpful suggestions:

Ensure your home environment promotes relaxation and does not create undue stress for your pet.  The stress you feel or show may be internalized by your pet. You may be able to identify stress triggers and work to prevent them in the future. 

Provide an herbal supplement designed to relax and ease anxiety prior to a storm, when visiting your veterinarian, boarding, traveling or have visiting guests. 

If your pet becomes distressed during a lightning storm or fireworks, provide a hiding place like a box or shelter under the bed. 

Make sure your pet gets plenty of play time and exercise to destress and decompress. Regular exercise helps burn up stress-related hormones such as adrenaline, releases endorphins and helps keep the lymphatic system toned and balanced. 

Feed a home cooked, raw, dehydrated or premium kibble diet.  A balanced diet will energize your pet’s body and help him or her to cope better with stressful situations. Nutritional deficiencies can cause ongoing stress response in your pet. In addition a premium protein, fatty acids, digestive enzymes and amino acids are essential ingredients, but also, Vitamin B, calcium, magnesium and taurine should be part of diet plus tryptophan may help alleviate stress response in dogs and cats.

Herbal Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets - human grade meets/exceeds highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies can help promote a calm and relaxed state, help soothe stress, fear and nervous anxiety during stressful situations & everyday disturbances,  help address the sudden and immediate symptoms of stress, such as quivering and panting, help relieve anxiety and tension related to separation, stress, new and fearful situations and aggression by helping relax all body systems; help provide whole body systemic support by helping relax all parts of the Central and Autonomic Nervous Systems, allowing your animal to distinguish between a safe vs. fearful situation.

Soothed & Serene  – (learn more) is used to relax and calm all bodily systems of an anxious animal, particularly the Central, Autonomic, Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems, as well as for its positive effects to relax the endocrine, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory & respiratory systems; used holistically to help soothe animals exhibiting all types of  destructive behavior due to anxiety, fear, grief, separation, pain, illness, allergies, aggression, socialization issues, electrical and thunder storms due to its calming, mildly sedative, nervine effects and alternative to benzodiazepine drugs; as a nutritive to help bridge nutritional deficiencies and relieve irregularity in bodily systems;  helps restore emotional balance, promotes comfort, relaxation, balanced mood and feelings of security; helps protect the blood brain barrier, important in preventing plaque buildup in the brain related to cognitive decline and as a stroke preventative. 

Serenity Zen Dog & Cat - (learn more) is used for its multi-level nutritional and adaptogen plant botanical support to help identify stress triggers in all body systems and to nutritionally help soothe, relax, calm, balance and provide pain relief to nerves and muscles (related to the Adrenal, Cardiovascular, Digestive, Excretory, Respiratory, Autonomic and Central Nervous Systems); may be useful for separation, stress, anxiety and behavioral disorders; may be helpful in reducing the effects of digestive colic, and stress and anxiety related to storms, fireworks, travel, boarding, vet visits, separation, new home due to adoption, travel, motion sickness, restlessness, irritability, depression, hyper-excitability, aggression, allergies sadness and fear; help address and reduce pain; help maintain normal electrical balance in the brain, to reduce neuro inflammation,  and to help modulate inflammatory response throughout the animal body.

Anxiety Starter Pack for Dogs and Cats – (learn more) is a convenient and easy way to help relax anxious, stress or homesick pets, containing natural, organic super foods, herbs and adaptogens which help to nutritionally soothe anxious, stressed and homesick dogs and cats by helping relax the Central Nervous, autonomic, sympathetic, somatic & parasympathetic nervous systems; helps to relax stress triggers related to the adrenal, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory, muscular & respiratory systems, for whole body balance; is mildly nervine & sedative; it does not drug your pet but helps relax muscles, lowers blood pressure & promotes feelings of security and helps reduce separation anxiety; may be useful for short term and episodic stress and anxiety related to travel, storms, vet and grooming visits, adoption, pain and much more; is a natural tonic, which helps to strengthen all body systems & works to nutritionally help restore emotional and immune balance.

Serenity Zen Meal Topper – (learn more)  is used holistically for its nutritional content to help carry out a read/repair and restore function for imbalance in the body systems; may help relax and calm an anxious, stressed dog or cat due to its calming, mildly sedative and nervine effects which may help relax the Central Nervous, autonomic, sympathetic ("fight or flight"), somatic and parasympathetic ("rest and digest") nervous systems; may help relieve stress triggers in the animal body and its natural plant based tonic actions may help bring all body systems into balance by helping promote feelings of comfort, security and relaxation by soothing the brain, relaxing muscles, and normalizing heart rate and blood pressure; may help reduce general stress and anxiety as well as behavioral responses related to introduction to a new home or family; adaptogen and nutritional content may help reduce restlessness, separation anxiety, stress, panting, whimpering, pacing, panic attacks and depression by cooling stress related protein and excess cortisol production in the body and may help reduce anxiety and fear related to vet, grooming and boarding visits, thunder and lightning storms and fireworks and loud noises; nutritional content may help reduce motion and car sickness commonly experienced by dogs and cats; may help diminish destructive behaviors such as aggression or urine marking; adaptogen content may help relax and soothe the adrenal, cardiovascular, digestive, excretory & respiratory systems, helping to nutritionally and adaptogen content helps support balance in all bodily systems when your pet is anxious or stressed; suitable for all life stages of dogs and cats.

Conventional Remedies:

The common conventional treatments for stressed animals include tranquilizer-like medications, such as Fluoxetine (Prozac, Reconcile). Please consider that these drugs may be unsuitable for pets with weakened hearts or other health conditions and may be accompanied by side effects.

Natural supplements can assist your pet to relax the Autonomic Nervous System, without the side effects of synthetic drugs.





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