Behavioural Impact of Feeding a Calming Herbal Blend to English Foxhounds

  • Wanda McCormick (Author)
  • Lauren Samet (Author)

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


Nutraceuticals designed to promote calming in pets are often promoted using testimonial rather than scientific evidence due to a non-essential requirement for sale. This means there is often little to no evidence of efficacy in the species the product is targeted at. This study aimed to examine the impact of a calming herbal blend (CHB) consisting of Matricaria chamomilla, Melissa officinalis, Verbena officinalis and Scutellaria lateriflora on dogs, Canis lupis familiaris. CHB was fed to thirty male English foxhounds daily for 28 days following a control week. Group behaviours were analysed via observation of overnight CCTV footage. Scan sampling at sixty second intervals was used to collect data continuously for the same six-hour period daily over six days, both in the control week and the final week of the trial. Additionally, stranger approach tests were carried out within these weeks to compare the groups’ behavioural responses during the day. Paired t-test results indicated a statistically significant reduction in overnight play and agonistic interactions within the group and increased rest behaviours, which suggested a “calmer” pack. Meanwhile, stranger approach tests revealed a statistically significant increase in the number of hounds in the outside kennel area during the day in the trial week compared to the control, as well as a significant increase in the number of hounds approaching the kennel front. On first appearances this behaviour could be interpreted as contradictory to overnight observations. However, it is possible that increased rest overnight led to a more alert pack during the day when approach tests were carried out. Future research should aim to incorporate physiological measures to allow further interpretation of the behaviours observed. Results of this study suggest there may be a calming benefit of feeding the CHB to dogs experiencing stress or anxiety, however further research is needed.
Period13 Feb 2020
Event titleCompanion Animal Nutrition 2020
Event typeConference
LocationNorthampton, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal


  • animal feeding
  • animal nutrition
  • dog diet