The feeling of anxiety is not just for human beings alone. Some other animals also share in the phenomenon known as anxiety. Just as it is a commonality in humans, anxiety has been proven to be regularly occurring in dogs.
As experts show, as many as 72.5% of dogs suffer from anxiety due to different stimuli (Petroff, 2018). These particular stimuli are induced by a combination of variables in the environment and also serve as some of the variables for anxiety in people. As Petroff (2018) identified, these stimuli proven as necessitating anxiety in dogs include noise sensitivity, strong fear in response to strangers, fear of heights, and repetitive behavior when left alone.
When dogs are experiencing anxiety, they express this by the exhibition of certain symptoms. These symptoms include destructive behavior, panting, drooling, excessive barking, pacing, restlessness and aggression. While this evidence-backed truth reveals so much about the similarity between humans and animals such as dogs, it equally reflects the emotional complex nature of the psychological makeup of animals such as dogs.
Anxiety in dogs can present itself in different forms and may cause several health problems. This is why Souroubea-Platanus based solutions have emerged as scientifically researched dog anti-anxiety medications to reduce the stressor and damages of anxiety in this species.
Types of anxiety
Dogs experience three major types of anxiety. These are fear-related anxiety, separation-related anxiety, and aging-related anxiety. Fear related anxiety can result from numerous factors. This includes loud noises, strange people or animals, or a new environment. As experts articulated, separation-related anxiety has been discovered to affect around 14% of dogs (Kriss, 2021). This situation occurs when a dog is uncomfortable due to being alone or having been separated from its family. Where this occurs, anxiety is manifested through ways such as urinating and defecating around the house, barking and destroying furniture. The last major cause of anxiety deals with age. The aging-related anxiety affects older dogs and is normally associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS). Where CDS occurs in dogs, they slowly decline in memory, perception, learning and awareness. As experts show, just like in humans, the CDS is the dog equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease (Kriss, 2021). This situation is often occurring in most older dogs.
The problem of anxiety in dogs does not go without solutions. Importantly, preventing this problem in the first place is essential and this can be done by understanding the dog’s body language to know when it is comfortable or scared to calm it, introducing the dog to other dogs and places to prevent the feelings of loneliness, teaching the dog obedience to lay a foundation for a relationship and trust, and finally exercise and good nutrition. When the prevention of anxiety in dogs fails, then the need for treatment arises. At this point, it is important to note that due to the different causes of dog anxiety, the best and most capable treatment for dog anxiety should be prescribed by a veterinarian. The veterinarian determines the causes of the anxiety, its triggers and possible ways to go about the anxiety problem. Another means of treating dog-related anxiety is through training and counterconditioning the dog. The counterconditioning method is simply to recondition and reprogram the dog’s stimuli response to anxiety-related triggers. Another applicable strategy is the desensitization of the dog. Here, the dog is slowly introduced to the source of its anxiety, and such repeated exposure to the trigger is met with rewarding management of the anxiety.
Another way of treating dog anxiety is through the use of medications. As experts reveal, several treatments exist as solutions for anxiety in dogs and they include pharmacotherapy (such as phenothiazines and benzodiazepines), dog appeasing pheromones, homeopathic remedies and behavioral management and systematic desensitization (Masic et al, 2018). Presently, a novel drug has been developed for canine anxiety and is marketed in the US under the commercial name of “Brave Paws”. The drug is a mixture of botanical ingredients that contains a primary anxiolytic chemical called butelinic acid, as well as other related triterpenes. The product is a blend of 55:45 w/w souroubea spp. (SSB) and Platanus spp. tree bark (PTB). At this point, an analytical focus will be laid on the Souroubea spp., due to its important characteristics and compositions that make it a very formidable and enabling anti-anxiety plant.
The Origin of the Souroubea-Platanus Botanical
The Souroubea spp. is a “leaf and stem growth” of the neotropical vines S. sympetela Gilg. or S. gilgii, or any mixture of both. (Masic et al., 2018). As Masic further explains, the Genus Souroubea belongs to a small family of neotropical lianas and shrubs, the Marcgraviaceae, native to Central America, the northern part of South America, and the Caribbean Islands.
The anxiolytic effects of Souroubea extracts can be traced to the traditional usage of the Souroubea spp. Studies show that the O'eqchi' Maya healers in Belize made use of the Souroubea sympetala to treat witchcraft which in the traditional days was recognized by the symptoms of withdrawal, apathy to daily life, and reduced verbal communication (Mullally et al., 2014). Also, the Souroubea guianensis Aubl. was used in the Amazon by Kubuyari as a calming agent for elders experiencing symptoms of nervousness (Schultes & Raffauf, 1990). It was also used as a tranquilizer by the Karijona, and a form of treatment for the “susto” (susto was a culture-specific syndrome which occurs in response to a frightening event) by the Taiwanos ( Puniani et al, 2015). These traditional usages of the Souroubea plant give credence to its anxiolytic effect on humans.
Research on plant-based remedies was enhanced in attempts to discover alternative treatments for fear and anxiety-related disorders. This is because some plants have shown promise of having anxiolytic-like effects. Preclinical tests proved that the Souroubea sympetala Gilg. had a very effective anxiolytic capacity due to the presence of an active anxiolytic chemical called Betulinic acid. Both S. sympetala leaf extract and betulinic acid reduced stressor-induced cortisol secretion in rainbow trout and canines (Mullally et al., 2017; Masic et al., 2018) and evidence suggests that these two components could have the capacity to agonize the Benzodiazepine (BZD) binding site of the GABA receptor, thus creating an effect on fear, learning and expressions.
The Effectiveness of the Souroubea-Platanus Botanical
Due to the commendable anxiolytic effect of the Souroubea-Platanus botanicals on other animals, Masic et al. (2021) recorded a test of this effectiveness which was made with a group of beagle dogs in a well-established thunderstorm model. The efficacy of the botanicals was assessed in a blinded, placebo-controlled, noise-induced anxiety model. Sixty beagle dogs were assigned into six experimental groups with each receiving a placebo, 0.5×, 1×, 2×, or 4× the recommended dose, or the positive control (diazepam) (Masic et al, 2021). Treatment was administered to the dogs once a day, for five days before the thunderstorm anxiety test. The test was to discover if there was any change in the cortisol levels of the dogs or any behavioral activity in response to a recorded thunderstorm. As Masic et al. (2021) exhibited, during the treatment phase, the dogs were given either a placebo, a diazepam, or different dosages of Souroubea-Platanus canine tablets. Dogs in the diazepam group showed lower anxiety than those in the placebo group, while those that received the Souroubea-Platanus showed greater inactivity and less anxiety than the other groups.
Results further showed that the anxiolytic triterpenoid compounds of Betulinic acid and a-amyrin were stable in the tablets for 30months. This was tremendous progress as the stability of botanicals has always been an issue, with a historically recorded significant decline within 6-12 months. The results showed that Souroubea-Platanus when orally administered to the dogs could reduce the behavioral and biochemical outcome measures which assessed the effect of the sound of thunder on anxiety in dogs (Masic et al, 2021). In comparing the effectiveness of the Souroubea-Platanus tablets with that of the diazepam and placebo control, the botanical medication showed effectiveness in the reduction of inactivity and increment of activity measures in all dogs and cortisol in the responding dogs, compared with the placebo-treated dogs. As expert findings on the use of Souroubea-Platanus to treat anxiety in dogs demonstrate, the botanical medication was effective in the reduction of cortisol release, increased activity measures in response to thunder and reduced inactivity measures (Masic et al, 2021). Overall, the Souroubea spp. and the Platanus spp. exert anxiolytic effects in dogs through the inhibition of cortisol release and the maintenance of normal behavior.
Safety of the Souroubea-Platanus Botanical
As Souroubea and a mixture of Platanus in triterpene anxiolytic tablets have an age-long history with traditional healers, it may then be deduced that the medication is considered safe. Nevertheless, assumptions do not amount to facts. Notably, the safety of the plant extracts has been tested on humans and rodents, but no data exist on their safety on dogs. However, when an assessment was engineered on the safety of the Souroubea extract and Platanus and compared to the effect of placebo within 28 days, it was revealed that the Souroubea and Platanus had no negative effects on dogs and were safe for application.
The subject for the experiment as recorded by Masic et al. (2018) were 16 healthy, intact, male, beagle dogs, each weighing between 7.6kg and 13.8kg. The dogs were between the ages of 7 to 58 months of age and showed no clinically health-related abnormality. The dogs were given two types of drugs daily for the experiment: a placebo, or 0.5×, 2.5×, or 5× the recommended dose (0.5, 2.5, and 5 mg/kg BW, respectively) of triterpene containing botanical tablets (Masic et al, 2018). After dosage, there was a monitoring of these dogs for two hours for any indication of adverse reaction to the drugs. General clinical observations were made which included eyes assessment, mucous membrane assessment, assessment of respiration, fecal consistency, and behavior. Blood from the dogs was collected by way of jugular venipuncture and then certain hematological, hormonal and clinical chemistry parameters were measured, including red blood cells (RBC) count, hematocrit, hemoglobin, urea, calcium, phosphorus, and cortisol. Also, the urine of the dogs was collected by cystocentesis or catheterization for an effective experimental process. A urinalysis was performed to determine certain parameters such as color, turbidity, pH, and ketones.
From the beginning of the experiment as Masic et al. (2018) record, the dogs showed a high level of tolerance to the drugs. Though, a dog placed in the Placebo group vomited the placebo drug within an hour after being treated severally. It was re-dosed with both the placebo drug and the test drug, and afterwards, no other dosages were administered. On the 28th day, 4 dogs had visible signs of the test drug or placebo in their fecal disposals. As this occurrence was suffered from both groups and was the likely cause of the high dosage, it was deemed to be of no impact to the study and its mission to find the suitability of the test article for these. During the 28 days experiment, few adverse changes were noticed. There was the occurrence of epiphora but this was ruled out from any connection with the dosages. Fecal disposals of three dogs in the Placebo group contained blood and sometimes mucus. One dog had giardia spp. oocytes which was isolated through the flotation method. Only a dog in the 5× group showed an elevation in urea levels, while the treatment persisted. However similar abnormalities or increased urea levels did not occur in any other dog throughout the study. Also, there were gross pathology and histopathology, but none of these revealed any renal lesions or kidney issues attributed to the drug. In summary, no clinical or toxicological relevance was attributed to these findings, which were considered not to be product-related (Masic et al, 2018).
In addressing some of the observed issues during the treatment periods, it is apt to clarify at this point that the Giardia spp. oocysts found in the feces of one Placebo-treated dog explain the blood found in the fecal disposal of two other dogs. Giardiasis is commonly found in colony dogs and is highly endemic, notwithstanding biosecurity measures implemented for the safety of other dogs. All three dogs with this condition were in the Placebo group, meaning that the occurrence has no relationship with the test article. Also, the safety concern which arose in relation to the heightened urea levels in one dog in the 5× group was assessed. The dog’s kidneys were examined and were shown to be of histologically normal appearance as they lacked any sort of inflammation or tubular, glomerular, or renal interstitial injury. Also, there was no evidence of glomerulitis or glomerulopathy. The kidneys were deemed grossly and histopathologically normal and no adverse outcome was attributed to the findings or the use of the test article.
The current research on the effect of Souroubea on dogs through the use of the anxiolytic product containing Souroubea and Platanus was carried out to determine the safety of the plant extract in dogs. The results show that there were no toxic effects from the SSB and PTB botanicals when separately administered to dogs at elevated doses for 28 days. The botanical blend of SSB and PTB, proved to be very suitable for the dogs used in the study, notwithstanding the administration of the 5× dosage which was above the recommended dosage. In all, no abnormalities of clinical significance were observed in the dogs that received the product continuously over a stipulated period.
In essence despite the issues that occurred during the treatment period, the product used for the evaluation of the Souroubea effect on dogs showed no apparent toxicity. Therefore, under the conditions of the study and based on the results of daily observations, physical examinations, BW, clinical pathology, and urinalysis as recorded by Masic et al. (2021), the botanical tablets administered up to 5× the intended dose for 28 consecutive days had no observed negative effects on the health of dogs and so deemed safe and effective for treating anxiety in dogs.
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Masic, A., Landsberg, G.,Milgram, B., Merali, Z., Durst, T., Sanchez-Vindas, P., Garcia, M., Baker, J., Liu, R., Arnason, J. (2021). Efficacy of Souroubea-Platanus Dietary Supplement containing Triterpenes in Beagle dogs, using a Thunderstorm Noise-induced Model of Fear and Anxiety. Molecules 2021, 26, 2049. https://doi.org/10.3390/ molecules26072049
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