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Everything You Need to Know About: Royal Canin Calm

Royal Canin is a division of Mars that specialises in producing veterinary quality pet foods for dogs and cats. Following bonfire night here in the UK, we were interested to investigate one of Royal Canin’s products further – this was the Royal Canin Calm Veterinary Diet for both dogs and cats.

With this product, Royal Canin offers a ‘dietary management for pets during times of stress’. We’re going to be looking a bit deeper into how this product works. If you’re planning some big parties this Christmas, then with all the extra commotion, people and activity a product such as Royal Canin Calm might be worth a look.

Why Do We Need Dietary Stress Management?

It seems like the modern lifestyle of our cats and dogs is a lot more hectic than it used to be! There are now a lot more stressful factors in both our pets’ lives and our own lives! Visits to the vets or groomers, changes to pet lifestyles, changes in the home environment, busy households, new pets and noisy environments are just some of the factors that contribute to the level of stress you and your pet have to endure.

Signs of Stress

So how do you know if your pet is suffering from stress? It’s not like they can tell you after all. There are some signs to look out for however, these include:

  • Increased heart-rate
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Vocalisation
  • Altered temperament or behaviour
  • Changes to their normal routine
  • Excessive grooming or hair-loss
  • Increased or inappropriate urination
  • Urinary problems including cystitis

Short-term (or acute) stress is probably nothing to worry about, however continual (or chronic) stress can cause physiological changes in both cats and dogs.

When Is Stress Management Needed?

There are a few situations when you might want to start managing your pet’s stress, however products such as Royal Canin are not designed for immediate stress relief. If you are in need of immediate relief, you are going to have to visit your vet. Royal Canin Calm ideally needs to be fed (and then continued to be fed) at least 10 days before a stressful event. Stressful events could include:

  • Visiting the vets or groomers
  • Boarding kennels
  • Having visitors/ house parties/ holiday festivities
  • Introduction of a new pet
  • Moving house or redecorating
  • Fireworks
  • A change in your lifestyle, such as a new job
  • Increased noise (such as nearby road-works)
  • Shows and competitions

Why Use Royal Canin Calm?

The alternative to Royal Canin Calm is likely to be pharmaceuticals. Drugs can often have unwanted side effects – whereas Royal Canin utilises a milk protein to achieve a calm state in dogs and cats, meaning it is safe to use in the long term.

How it Works

Milk has been used as a natural calming beverage for many, many years, but it is only now that research is being carried out into why! Royal Canin (and some other producers of calming products for both humans and animals) use a protein called alpha-casozepine which is derived from milk. It is this protein that achieves the calming effect – how it achieves this is still not entirely clear.

Newborn animals were shown to demonstrate a state of calm after feeding on their mother’s milk; it was this discovery that lead to the isolation of the alpha-casozepine protein. Since then, studies have been conducted into whether these products actually work and the results are fairly positive.

The majority of studies conducted on alpha-casozepine concern its inclusion in another calming product: Zylkène.

Royal Canin also utilises the tried and tested L-tryptophan, an amino acid that is found in almost every calming product available for humans and pets. L-tryptophan is required for the body to produce two hormones; melatonin and serotonin. These hormones control our mood, appetite, response to anxiety and our sleeping patterns.

Other Ingredients

Like other Royal Canin diets, Royal Canin Calm contains extra vitamins, minerals and highly digestible fibres. These provide added benefits such as increased digestibility, maintenance of skin health and (for cats) the reduction of hairball production. Royal Canin Calm is also full of antioxidants as well to help mop up tissue-damaging free radicals.

The Royal Canin Calm Canine kibble pieces also have a special coating which helps to reduce plaque and tartar build up. You are unlikely to see any drastic reduction in plaque however.

Feeding Royal Canin Calm

When changing either your dog or cat’s diet you should always try and do so over a period of a few days rather than straight away. Start by adding a small amount of the new food to the old diet then slowly build this up over the next 3 or 4 days until your pet has been weaned onto the new diet by day 4/5.

Feeding Guidelines

Dogs:

Body Weight (kg)

Amount of Feed (g)

3

75

6

125

9

165

12

205

15

240

These guidelines are based on Royal Canin’s suggestion for a normal weight dog

Cats:

Body Weight (kg)

Amount of Feed (g)

2

30

4

61

6

91

8

121

10

152

These guidelines are based on Royal Canin’s suggestion for a normal weight cat

Conclusion

Calming supplements are not exactly a new thing; they have been around for a while. However most products rely solely on L-tryptophan to calm pets down. Not many companies have tried going down the ‘calming-via-feed’ route either, so it will be interesting to see how the pet community accepts Royal Canin Calm. With two large companies, Mars and CEVA (the makers of Zylkène) both backing the relatively newly discovered alpha-casozepine, it is likely to receive a lot of attention from researchers – hopefully we will be seeing plenty more studies conducted on the effectiveness of alpha-casozepine.

Our experiences with Royal Canin Calm have been reasonably good, something we share with the majority of the pet community. However some owners do report a lack of effect, it seems therefore the effect can vary quite a bit between individuals and breeds.



Your Thoughts

Have you tried this product or any other calming products for that matter? What have your experiences been? Make sure to share with the PetSci community and leave your comment below.

Further Reading

If you are interested, these are the papers concerning the efficacy of alpha-casozepine:

Claude Beata, Edith Beaumont-Graff, Victoria Coll, Jacques Cordel, Muriel Marion, Nicolas Massal, Nathalie Marlois, Jerome Tauzin, Effect of alpha-casozepine (Zylkene) on anxiety in cats, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, Volume 2, Issue 2, March-April 2007, Pages 40-46, ISSN 1558-7878, 10.1016/j.jveb.2007.02.002.

Claude Beata, Edith Beaumont-Graff, Christian Diaz, Muriel Marion, Nicolas Massal, Nathalie Marlois, Gérard Muller, Catherine Lefranc, Effects of alpha-casozepine (Zylkene) versus selegiline hydrochloride (Selgian, Anipryl) on anxiety disorders in dogs, Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, Volume 2, Issue 5, September-October 2007, Pages 175-183, ISSN 1558-7878, 10.1016/j.jveb.2007.08.001.


About James Watts

BSc Bioveterinary Science. Editor of PetSci. When I'm not writing, learning, discussing, or reading about animals, you know it's the weekend! Currently developing PetSci HealthTrak, the fast and easy way to monitor your pet's weight and calorie intake. HealthTrak offers a simple way to track your pet's progress, helping them achieve a healthy weight and a long, happy life.

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2 comments

  1. My cat’s Vet, Dr Hart, gave me a sample bag of Calm cat food. Kiah’s been on this food less then 2 weeks. He’s, also, on Prozac. He can be a bit aggressive. Can bite, hiss, growl, spit when not doing what he wants. Can be very lovable too. This is a cat where I have to take him to Dr Hart to have his claws clipped and soft paws applied under heavy sedation. After a week on the food, he got a claw caught in the fabric of a chair he was scratching. He started yowling in distress. I quickly went to him and he let me grasp his paw to release him and he didn’t try to bite and scratch me. This is a first! I wonder if a wet food of Calm is in the works. He likes wet and dry food. I’m thankful. I hope the food continues to work.

  2. I fed my dogs (one very energetic staffy and a chihuahua) royal canin calm for a stressful trip from Mexico to Paris then Paris to London. The food seemed to calm them both down instantly and they would sleep for a lot longer after their meals and were generally much calmer for the whole trip. This food made my dogs quite lethargic at home but once out on walks they would be back to their usual selves.

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