puppy with anxious eyes

L-Tryptophan For Dogs And Cats: Is It Safe?

L-Tryptophan For Dogs And Cats | The amino acid tryptophan is commonly known as the reason we get drowsy after eating turkey. Once ingested and absorbed, human (and animal) bodies can use tryptophan to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin

In the 1980s, a nutritionist theorized high-protein meals, especially with tryptophan, boost serotonin and melatonin, calming the mind. Then L-tryptophan is now popular for promoting calmness and reducing aggression

Many L-tryptophan supplements on the market today claim to reduce anxiety and calmness in dogs, most of which include other calming agents such as passionflower, ginger, or chamomile flower. 

Related: Best CBD oil for dogs

Does Turkey Make You Drowsy?

First, let's address the turkey myth. Consuming turkey does not actually make you drowsy or lower anxiety. Turkey meat fails to contain uniquely high tryptophan levels.

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Tryptophan And Dogs

Tryptophan is studied as a serotonin precursor, potentially replacing or assisting SSRIs for human depression and anxiety in dogs. See studies below:

Tryptophan To Treat Anxiety

Wageningen University in the Netherlands released a study of 138 dogs who suffered from behavior problems stemming from anxiety. Half of the dogs were fed standard dog food as a control, and the other half were given the same food but supplemented with L-tryptophan. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study known as the "gold standard" of research designs. 

Results: Blood tryptophan levels rose by 37% in the study group, but no significant behavioral differences were observed. Moderate behavioral changes occurred over time, potentially due to the placebo effect. L-tryptophan supplementation had no anxiety-reducing effects in dogs.

dog staring at you with anxious eyes

CBD for Dogs with Arthritis

Tryptophan To Treat Abnormal/Repetitive Behaviors

In this double-blind and placebo-controlled study, 29 dogs presenting some form of abnormal-repetitive behavior such as light chasing/shadow staring, anxiety-related lick granuloma, or stool eating were studied. 

Results: The researchers found that supplementing L-tryptophan had no effects on the intensity or frequency of abnormal/repetitive behaviors. While the owners reported mild upticks in improvement, this happened both when the dogs were eating the control diet and receiving the supplemental tryptophan, making it another placebo effect. 

Tryptophan-Enhanced Diet To Treat Anxiety

In a single-blind, crossover study, dogs in the study group with anxiety-related behavior problems were given a control food supplemented with L-tryptophan and alpha-capsazepine (a peptide found in milk protein).

Results: Owners reported a small improvement in anxiety-related behaviors, but it's important to note that the severity of the problems was very low from the beginning. Moreover, since the food was supplemented with two test supplements, L-tryptophan's effects are not conclusive. 

What This Means For Pet Owners

One major takeaway is that while quality turkey is a great meat to feed your dog, the amounts of L-tryptophan in turkey are not substantial enough to have any impact on your dog, as turkey doesn't contain more tryptophan than other types of protein. Giving your dog turkey will not calm them down, except for the regular calming effects a treat or good meal may have (on your dog or yourself). 

L-tryptophan is safe for dogs as a supplement, but it doesn't significantly treat hyperactivity, anxiety, or aggression. Also, Placebo-controlled studies showed minimal effects on aggression and anxiety-related problems. As a result, The third study's slight behavioral change didn't fully account for the placebo effect.

Related: How Much Sleep Do Dogs Need?

CBD May Be More Effective

If you are a dog owner looking for holistic ways to calm your pet's anxiety, CBD might be your best option. Many recent studies are uncovering the myriad ways CBD can benefit dogs, such as reducing anxiety, lowering inflammation, managing seizures, and helping with pain management and stress. Our customers report significant improvements in their dogs' anxiety and quality of life. Order some treats for your furry best friend from Dope Dog today!

sweet fluffy puppy with one ear up

Looking for high-quality CBD dog products?
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