If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that our former foster dog, Coop — who found his forever family over the holidays — is a young, goofy, energetic, genius American English Coonhound mix. We routinely tested and employed a variety of puzzles, games, toys, and other ways to expend his young, sometimes boundless-seeming hound energy. And those efforts pretty reliably payed off in a tired-out, well-behaved canine citizen by the time we were ready to wind down after a long day. Still, we were always open to new ways to achieve calm during our pre-bedtime hours.
In the week or so before Coop left us for his forever home, we were given a package of Tomlyn Relax & Calm chews. Our plan for them was to try to help our storm-averse Maremma Sheepdog, but on a lark, we gave Coop a couple one night to see if it might “soften his edges.” Now, I know that sounds like we were trying to get the dog stoned, but that wasn’t really the effect we were after.
We were just interested in seeing if these treats might be a canine version of Sleepytime tea. The main ingredient is L-Tryptophan — the amino acid that some people believe is what makes you feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving turkey feast. (I am of the school that says you’re tired because you ate too dang much. But I am happy to let tryptophan remain part of the lore.) The chews also contain chamomile and ginger, both considered to have calming effects in the herbal medicine world. I figured it was worth a try.
The directions say to give one treat per 20 pounds of body weight. Coop is about 50 pounds, so my husband gave him three. This was at about 5:30 p.m. — just after his normal dinner time. By 7 he was snoring on the sofa. He had a little rally to greet me at 8 when I came home from the farmers’ market, and he played with his Kong for a bit while we ate dinner, but went right back to sofa sleeping as soon as we were done.
I wasn’t sure if the treats had anything to do with it, but it was completely out of the ordinary for Coop. He is NEVER ready to sleep before 8 p.m. Out of a strict sense of fairness, we also gave the treats to our other two house dogs, Lefty and Mama Dog. All three dogs enjoyed the treats, but Lefty and MD are always asleep from our dinner on, so no change was noticed in them.
We repeated the experiment the following night, and while Coop was neither down nor snoring before 8, he was perfectly calm and normal while he tackled his nightly puzzle toys. When he was done with three toys, he put himself to bed.
For the third test, we gave him treats before going out for the evening. We got home at about 10:15 p.m., and he greeted us and then went right (presumably back) to sleep.
Listen, I’m not a vet or a scientist, but I’m in on these treats. Coop’s mellower evenings may have been the result of any number of things — shorter days, more day exercise, that he was more settled into a routine here — or maybe all of the above. And maybe it’s the treats. All I know is he liked the treats and he was less of a spaz, so we stuck with them.
Quality: All of our dogs like these treats, and they seem to have the desired effect on Coop, so thumbs up.
Function: Although it would hard to prove that Coop’s mellower nights were a direct result of these treats, I do feel like they may have been.
Value: The treats sell for around $8 for a bag of 30 (for the medium/large dog treats). It is definitely pricier than our usual treats, but we went ahead and ordered more after the trial bag was gone. I have a hard time putting a dollar value on an easy night with a dog known to have difficult ones. But if I did, that number would be WAY higher than the 80 cents these treats cost at his “dose.”
We were pretty happy with Tomlyn Relax & Calm treats. I can’t tell you if they would work for storms or fireworks, as advertised on the package, but for a palatable treat with a mild, general calming effect, they seem to work well. They are certainly worth a try for a dog who has anxiety or trouble settling down at night.
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About the author: Lisa Seger (who goes by Blue Heron Farm on most social media platforms) is a former office drone turned dairy farmer and cheesemaker. She found that cubicle jobs just didn’t allow for enough quality animal time and so made animals her work instead. Like all dairy farmers, she has virtually NO free time, but what little she gets is generally spent in pursuit of rescuing, fostering, and placing homeless dogs. Or being a smart-alec on the interwebs. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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