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Most dogs are afraid of loud noises like thunder, and fireworks, including my dog. Just a few weeks ago we had a bad thunderstorm that sent my Golden Retriever Ellie into anxiety mode. She quickly hid under the coffee table and started panting. I tried my best to calm her down, but nothing I could do or say would help. Finally, the storm passed. This got me thinking about ThunderShirts. Do dog ThunderShirts work?
ThunderShirts claim to ease anxiety by applying gentle, constant pressure to your dog’s torso, almost like giving your dog a hug or swaddling an infant.
You may be a little skeptical in thinking that simply putting a ThunderShirt on your dog will calm them down. But, dog owners everywhere swear by these calming vests to ease their dog’s anxiety. Veterinarians and dog trainers often recommend ThunderShirts as a natural solution to anxiety.
But, do these so called anxiety vests work for all dogs? Find out in this in-depth review of ThunderShirts.
Do Dog ThunderShirts Work?
ThunderShirt is the original dog calming vest, and it has an over 80% success rate. Dog owners notice positive results immediately after putting a ThunderShirt on their dog for the first time. Symptoms of anxiety are reduced or completely eliminated after just one use.
For some dogs, it may take a few tries of wearing the ThunderShirt to see an improvement in anxiety symptoms. So yes, ThunderShirts work and are effective at relieving anxiety in most dogs.
To sum up, ThunderShirts are effective on 80% of dogs, but for the other small percentage of dogs, ThunderShirts simply do not work. Why? Anxiety can be brought on by many things, and while constant pressure works for some dogs, this type of therapy does not work for all dogs and their type of anxiety.
A ThunderShirt can be a very beneficial tool when used alone or used in addition to behaviour training, or medication. Some dogs might require all 3 methods to ease their anxiety; (ThunderShirt, behaviour training, & Medication).
How Do ThunderShirts Work?
ThunderShirt as well as other calming vests work by wrapping your dog in constant gentle pressure. The constant pressure has a very relaxing and calming effect on your dog. It is like giving your dog a hug.
Pressure has been used to relieve anxiety in people for years, such as swaddling babies to keep them calm and sleep better and using gentle pressure and weighted vests to help people with autism. Weighted blankets are also used to relieve anxiety in humans.
Research on both animals and humans shows that using this type of pressure releases a calming hormone, oxytocin and endorphins. Think of the feeling you get when you hug a loved one. The same calming hormones are released when you pet your dog in a firm but gentle manner.
Top Reasons To Try A ThunderShirt On Your Dog
If you are looking for a safe, effective and drug-free way to ease your dog’s anxiety, then you’ll want to try a ThunderShirt. Let’s look at the top reasons below:
- To help calm your dog during fireworks, thunderstorms and other loud noises.
- Help ease your dog’s separation anxiety.
- Makes anxious dogs feel more comfortable and secure.
- Eases anxiety associated with travelling in a vehicle, or going to new places.
- Anxiety during vet visits.
- It helps to calm over-excited dogs, and helps with issues such as excessive barking and jumping.
- Can be used to ease your dog’s anxiety when meeting new people or other dogs.
To sum up, if your dog is fearful of loud noises, gets over-excited, or anxious, a ThunderShirt may just be the remedy you are looking for to help calm your dog.
How To Use A ThunderShirt
A ThunderShirt is super easy to use because it goes on like a vest. There are no leg holes or head openings to have to put your dog through. You simply place the vest over your dog’s back and secure the neck-straps loosely, wrap the torso flap around your dog’s chest, and secure the top flap.
The ThunderShirt should fit comfortably and snug on your dog. When looking at the sizing chart, if your dog is in between sizes, it is recommended to choose the smaller size. Male dogs should not be restricted from using the bathroom, make sure the vest doesn’t cover the affected area.
There is no training required, most dogs get used to the ThunderShirt pretty quickly.
The following video demonstrates how to put a ThunderShirt on your dog:
Tips To Get The Best Results From A ThunderShirt
As noted above, ThunderShirts are effective on over 80% of dogs. If you are wanting to try a ThunderShirt on your dog, here are some tips to help you get the best results:
- Introduce the ThunderShirt to your dog gradually. Allow your dog to sniff it and offer him a treat before putting it on your dog. Once it is on, offer another treat. This way your dog associates the ThunderShirt with a positive reward.
- Put the ThunderShirt on your dog when he is calm. Do not wait until he is anxious. When your dog is calm, the experience of getting used to the ThunderShirt goes more smoothly. Also, it allows you to properly fit it on your dog.
- Make sure the ThunderShirt is fitted appropriately to your dog. As mentioned above, it should fit comfortably and snug. There should be no visible hook fasteners. The neck straps should fit loosely around your dog.
In addition to using a ThunderShirt for your dog’s anxiety, you can monitor your dog’s health and activity level with a FitBark. FitBark allows you to keep track of your dog’s behaviour throughout the day and night. It is a great tool to use if your dog suffers from separation anxiety, as it allows you to notice any changes in behaviour.
How Long Can You Keep A ThunderShirt On Your Dog?
ThunderShirts are safe to keep on your dog for extended periods of time, they can even be worn overnight, depending on your dog’s anxiety issue. For example, if a thunderstorm is expected to last overnight.
During the first few times of your dog wearing the ThunderShirt, it is best to remove it every 1-2 hours, to check for any signs of irritation. Irritation is rare, but it is best to be sure your dog is comfortable.
Once your dog is used to wearing a ThunderShirt and it fits properly, it can be worn for a long time, as it feels very comfortable for your dog. It is still recommended to remove the vest at least twice a day for a period of 30 minutes.
Will My Dog Overheat While Wearing A ThunderShirt?
ThunderShirt is made of thin breathable fabric such as Polyester, Spandex and Rayon blend. Overheating is not a concern while your dog is wearing it. That being said, it should not be worn in extreme heat such as 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun.
The Best ThunderShirts For Your Dog
The ThunderShirt is available in 3 different styles, Classic, Sport, and Polo. They may differ in style and colour, but each one works the same way and is effective in calming your dog during thunderstorms, fireworks, travel, and more.
1. ThunderShirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket
The Classic ThunderShirt is available in Heather Grey. It is made of a soft Polyester, Spandex, and Rayon blend fabric. It is easy to clean, simply throw it in the washing machine.
ThunderShirt comes with a Money-Back guarantee. If by chance it doesn’t work for your dog, you get your money back.
Available in sizes Small to XXL, all dogs can benefit from a ThunderShirt, from Chihuahua’s to Great Danes. It works on all ages of dogs too.
For extra calming, there is a patch sewn onto the ThunderShirt for you to add essential calming oils.
- An excellent drug-free solution to ease your dog’s anxiety.
- Easy to put on, no training required.
- Lightweight and comfortable for your dog to wear.
- Many dog owners mention they saw an immediate improvement in their dog’s symptoms.
- Well-made and the material is of great quality.
- The Velcro is loud and there is a lot of it. The noise of the Velcro can bother some dogs.
- It’s not a magic cure for all dogs.
- The Classic only comes in grey.
2. ThunderShirt Sport Dog Anxiety Jacket
The ThunderShirt Sport is available in Platinum and Fuchsia, and it features a contrasting trim colour to give it a sporty look. Reflective logos on the sides are an added feature to make walking at night safer for you and your dog.
It is made of 100% Polyester and features air-flow technology. The sport version is designed to be more breathable. It is a great option for active sporty dogs.
- The Sport version is more breathable and stretchy, allowing it to move freely with your dog.
- One reviewer mentioned that the ThunderShirt works even on dogs who hate clothes. Wearing this has made her dog pace less, and relax their posture as compared to wearing other clothes.
- Available in 2 colours.
- More lightweight than the Classic version.
- The material is not as durable as the Classic version.
- Fur tends to get stuck on the Velcro.
- It takes some dogs a few tries to get used to.
3. ThunderShirt Polo Dog Anxiety Jacket
The polo version offers more colour choices to suit your dog. It comes in two tones of blue, pink, red, as well as camo. It is made of the same material as the classic version, Polyester, Spandex and Rayon blend. It is lightweight, breathable and can be machine-washed.
As compared to the Classic ThunderShirt, the Polo style is sleeker in design and it tends to run smaller than the Classic. The way it is put on is also different, the 3rd flap secures in place on the belly area, whereas on the Classic style the 3rd flap secures on the top.
- More stylish than the Classic version, it is available in a variety of colours.
- Works just as great as the Sport and Classic.
- It is lightweight, breathable and easy to use.
- Many skeptical dog owners were amazed at how well the ThunderShirt works. One reviewer mentioned her dog who suffers from separation anxiety no longer destroyed the house when she was gone.
- As with all of the ThunderShirt styles, the Velcro is loud. Some dogs have a Velcro phobia.
- The Polo version does fit smaller than the Classic.
- Doesn’t work for all dogs, but it is certainly worth trying.
- Takes a while to figure out how to put it on your dog. It is important to put it on your dog when he is calm.
Do dog ThunderShirts work? Yes, they are effective on over 80% of dogs. A ThunderShirt has helped many dogs keep calm during stressful situations. Not every dog owner wants to give their dog medication for their anxiety, and that is why the ThunderShirt is the best drug-free all-natural solution.
When using a ThunderShirt, it is important to follow the instructions and put it on your dog when he is calm. Use the vest before fireworks start, before a thunderstorm, and before your dog becomes anxious. Your dog will be able to get used to the vest, and you will have better success in putting it on him.
As for which ThunderShirt is the best one for your dog? They all work the same way, but if colour and style are important to you, the Polo is a great choice. If your dog tends to get hot easily, the Sport version is the most lightweight and breathable.
Have you tried using a ThunderShirt on your dog? Share your thoughts and comments below. I would love to hear from you.