With the ThunderShirt Sport Dog Anxiety Jacket, you get what you pay for. Thundershirt Sport is slightly more expensive than some of the other alternatives, but many dog owners and vets concur that it is totally worth it. The firm promises that the jacket is more than 80% efficient in calming an anxious dog and even provides a money-back guarantee.
Does the dog ThunderShirt actually work?
Do anxiety vests and thundershirts help dogs with separation anxiety?
For dogs with anxiety and other conditions, the usage of body wraps, relaxing wearables, and anxiety shirts has become more and more common.
- According to ThunderWorks, its ThunderShirt for dogs has an 80% success rate in reducing a dog’s fear of thunder, fireworks, driving, separation anxiety, and other things.
- In addition to reducing anxiety, Tellington TTouch advises using body wraps to help with mobility, injury healing, and motion sickness.
- In their anxiety-relieving wearable, the company Calmz mixes pressure treatment with soothing music and vibrations. They claim that their system lessens sensitivity to noise, travel, or crowds of people.
There are many different brands and types of wearable anxiety alleviation, including DIY versions, T-shirts, and complete body suits, but how helpful are ThunderShirts and other wearables for your anxious dog? Do scientific studies support the claims that these products are effective at easing anxiety in dogs, despite their vociferous marketing?
What is Deep Pressure and Touch Therapy?
The most well-known wearable is the ThunderShirt for dogs, which was introduced in 2009. However, the concept of employing deep pressure or touch therapy on the body to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation has been around for much longer. Chinese medicine has employed acupressure, a non-invasive, no-needles type of acupuncture, for more than 3000 years. With her Squeeze Machine for kids and people with autism, Temple Grandin, a well-known PhD biologist and professor of animal science at Colorado State University, helped to popularize deep pressure stimulation. Weighted blankets have been popular in recent years among those seeking relief from insomnia and anxiety.
According to the theory behind deep pressure stimulation, pressing repeatedly on specific body parts or the majority of the body deactivates the sympathetic nervous system, which controls your fight-or-flight reflexes, and aids in the parasympathetic nervous system’s takeover, which sets off a rest and relaxation response.
What Studies Say about the ThunderShirt for Dogs
Despite the dearth of prior scientific studies, there are numerous anecdotal reports of how these strategies and products have alleviated anxiety, which, regrettably, is also where many of the manufacturer’s success claims originate. Fortunately, additional research is being conducted to ascertain the efficiency and scope of touch therapy for problems including separation anxiety and noise phobia.
A survey of dog owners in the United States was conducted in 2011 by the ThunderShirt company (now known as ThunderWorks), which revealed that 29% of dogs had at least one anxiety or fear condition. The most common anxiety condition was noise phobia, which includes fear of thunder, fireworks, or the sound of the vacuum cleaner. Separation anxiety was the second most common condition at the time, with 13% of dogs exhibiting symptoms. When they questioned dog owners who had bought ThunderShirts to rate how much their dog’s fear had improved, they discovered:
- In relation to Owner-Reported Noise Anxiety
- 87% of users claimed that ThunderShirt helped to enhance their behavior during loud events (29% for mild, 29% for moderate, and 29% for excellent).
- 14% of the owners surveyed said they had seen no improvement.
- In relation to Owner-Reported Separation Anxiety
- When the dog was left alone, 77% of owners who responded to the poll said the ThunderShirt was helpful (29% for modest improvements, 24% for moderate improvements, and 24% for outstanding improvements).
- When using the ThunderShirt to reduce their dog’s separation anxiety, 23% of the owners who participated in the survey reported no change.
Using the ThunderShirt brand, Temple Grandin co-authored a 2014 scientific study to evaluate the impact of pressure wraps on dogs’ separation anxiety and overall anxiety. It was discovered that the pressure wraps greatly reduced the heart rates of anxious dogs, but it found no improvement in 14 of the 15 behavioral signs of anxiety that were evaluated (such as pacing, barking, etc.). Watchful waiting was the only indication that indicated any noticeable change. Researchers came to the conclusion that a pressure wrap can be used in conjunction with other anxiety treatments, such as behavior modification and medicine, to help anxious dogs’ heart rates drop.
The ThunderShirt and other pressure wraps are demonstrated to be a potentially useful tool in helping relieve anxiety symptoms, but they are not proven to be an effective or long-lasting treatment for separation anxiety in particular, based on owner reporting from 2011 and the results of the 2014 study. According to a clinical investigation on the Anxiety Wrap’s efficiency in treating thunderstorm phobia that was finished in 2012, the Anxiety Wrap has the best results in assisting dogs feel less anxious about noise.
Will a Calming Vest Work for Your Dog?
You could observe some change in your dog’s behavior when left alone if you attempt a pressure wrap or anxiety shirt to treat your dog’s separation anxiety, or you might not. Owners reported various degrees of success with ThunderShirt, and anxiety symptoms were not quantified using particular data points but rather solely based on owner assessment.
It has been demonstrated to be beneficial in lowering heart rate, so if your dog has other medical conditions, this can be a useful technique for stress reduction. However, there has been little evidence that separation anxiety is actually resolved. If a dog experiences more intense levels of worry or terror, a relaxing wrap or jacket might not be sufficient to provide comfort. However, as there are no known negative side effects, using a pressure wrap or anxiety shirt on your dog is not detrimental.
When looking for calming wearable solutions for your anxious dog, bear in mind that it must be on them for it to have any effect on their anxiety levels. No matter how many times your dog has worn the soothing vest before, they will still feel worried if you forget to put it on them before you go.
How to Help Your Dog Feel Comfortable Wearing a Calming Vest or Anxiety Jacket
Most of the time, you can introduce a relaxing item to your dog without any training to make them feel at ease wearing something new. You should spend some time introducing the goods in a positive way if your dog dislikes wearing harnesses or other kinds of dog gear.
Start out gently by simply showing your dog the clothing, and then follow that up with a treat, a game of tug, or a belly rub. Simply lay it over your dog’s body the first time, take it off, and give them something great, like a stuffed Kong, during the process. By gradually altering the fit, you can start to extend the time they spend wearing the shirt and create tighter pressure.
Make sure the relaxing shirt fits your dog appropriately. You don’t want them to chew, rip, or swallow it because doing so could result in hazardous gastrointestinal obstructions and pricey trips to the vet.
Avoid making a wearable that you are using to treat your dog’s separation anxiety a source of the dog’s worried behaviors. Your dog will associate the shirt with your departure if you only put it on them right before you go. Simply have them wear their soothing shirt or wrap whenever you are not leaving them alone to avoid this.
Other Treatment Options for Separation Anxiety
There are alternative options if you’ve already tried a soothing wrap or wearable and weren’t satisfied with the effects or didn’t want to depend on a gadget for a long time.
What canine anti-anxiety shirt is the best?
What we like: Comes in seven sizes, fits dogs under 7 pounds, and comes with a 100% money-back guarantee
Tiny dogs of various shapes and sizes can fit comfortably in the unique Thundershirt Classic Dog Anxiety Jacket, which is available in sizes XXS, XS, and small.
For larger dogs, the Thundershirt Classic is also effective. The sizes range from 110 pounds and above to fit nervous puppies. The heather grey Thundershirt Classic fastens at the neck and has two pressure-applying flaps that wrap across the torso and back, similar to the Thundershirt Sport. The vest is made of a flexible, breathable, and soft polyester, spandex, and rayon blend that can be machine washed. A full refund of your purchase price is offered for the Thundershirt Classic.
How long can a dog keep on using a ThunderShirt?
Use for the whole 30 days for the best outcomes. Consult your veterinarian or a qualified trainer if more behavior adjustment is required. Combining ThunderEase with drugs or other treatments (like ThunderShirt!) is possible.
What distinguishes the classic and sport versions of the ThunderShirt?
The ThunderShirt Sport is a specially designed anxiety vest for dogs. It fits snugly around their torsos and uses gentle, continuous pressure to calm and relax them, much like a large embrace might.
It’s intended to assist with issues like:
- phobia of thunder
- aversion to fireworks
- separation phobia
- travel anxiety
- Vet visit anxiety
A drug-free remedy for your dog’s nervousness is the ThunderShirt Sport, a relaxing product that is suggested by veterinarians.
ThunderShirt Sport vs. Regular ThunderShirt
The ThunderShirt Sport has the most “premium look,” according to the brand, and we concur! Fuschia and platinum are the two interesting hues that are offered, and it is offered in sizes XXS to XXL.
The ThunderShirt is also offered in the Classic and Polo versions, which, while functionally equivalent to the Sport, have significantly different looks and materials.
While the Classic and Polo designs are constructed with a mixture of polyester, rayon, and spandex, the ThunderShirt Sport is made entirely of polyester.
The ThunderShirt that is perfect for you will therefore ultimately depend on the style you choose.
How To Put On A ThunderShirt Sport
Given that the ThunderShirt Sport’s effectiveness depends on exerting light pressure, you may be unsure of how to apply one to your dog.
Make sure you can fit two fingers underneath your dog’s neck when you fasten the chest straps; you don’t want him to feel like he’s choking.
The major torso straps are where it gets a little more challenging, though.
The ThunderShirt Sport will be snug enough around your dog’s torso, per the manufacturer, if there isn’t any additional space between your fingers and the vest. If you aren’t getting any results from the initial fit, you can then make the vest a little tighter.
But if your dog struggles to move while wearing the ThunderShirt Sport, it’s too tight.
How firmly ought a ThunderShirt to be worn?
Dosi, the dog owned by Phil Blizzard, the founder of ThunderWorks, was incredibly terrified of thunderstorms and explosions. Phil sought the advice of doctors and dog trainers in order to comfort Dosi (and get more sleep). Sadly, no one had a workable answer. As a result, Dosi (and her family) had to endure Fourth of July fireworks and thunderstorms for many years. One day, a family friend advised attempting a snug wrap, similar to swaddling a baby. Although it seemed unlikely, nothing else had succeeded, so there was no harm in giving it a shot. They forced Dosi into an old t-shirt during one severe storm and applied packing tape to exert slight pressure. They were astounded at how quickly Dosi calmed down and laid down for the duration of the storm. Millions of dogs and cats throughout the world have been calmed thanks to ThunderShirt, which developed from there.
Fitting Your Dogs Thundershirt:
1. It’s crucial to start acclimating your dog to the Thundershirt. Offer your dog a little on top of the shirt before putting it on for the first time. This is a clever little method to make the Thundershirt have a nice connotation for dogs because they soon get more comfortable with things they identify with “giving them food.”
2. Gently place the Thundershirt on your dog’s back and tuck the Short Flap in.
3. Wrap the Long Flap over the body and attach it to the Velcro strips on the Short Flaps. Make sure that it is tight and cozy.
4. Wrap the Top Flap around the top and fasten it with Velcro. To increase the snug fit and comfort, adjust.
5. Snugly but not too tightly, wrap the chest straps around the dog’s front and fasten with fasteners.
Make sure to reward them with some snacks and other verbal and tactile praise for a job well done!