Photo courtesy of Thundershirt

We all love our pets and want them to be happy. But should pet owners really resort to canine Prozac to keep dogs calm during thunderstorms and other stressful situations? Vets across the country are saying no, thanks to one of the most popular new products in pet accessories. It’s called the Thundershirt.

Simply velcro your pooch into the lightweight shirt (it comes in 7 different sizes) and let the Thundershirt work its magic. The makers of Thundershirt claim that the “gentle, constant pressure” of the jacket has a calming effect on dogs and reduces the need for anxiety medication in excited, nervous, or fearful dogs.

They aren’t the first to claim pressure and a treatment option. World-renowned veterinarians and experts like Dr. Temple Grandin have used gentle physical pressure on cattle and horses to reduce anxiety before vaccinations or exams. Furthermore, humans swaddle their infants up tightly for comfort, and even children with autism or other behavioral problems have found focus and solace from pressure shirts or vests.

But is a $36 jacket really going to fix Fido’s fear of fireworks? The people at Thundershirt say maybe. Out of 2,000 dogs that sampled the contraption, 80 percent of their owners reported a significant improvement. And while the jacket may not exactly quell all discomfort of loud noises and triggers, it can prove to be very helpful to dogs that dislike vet visits, riding in the car, traveling, or being home alone.

However, Thundershirt’s makers realize it may not work for every dog’s anxiety or fashion sense, and offer customers a generous return policy for up to 45 days after purchase. As far as solutions for worried pups, the Thundershirt definitely can’t hurt.

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5 Responses

  1. Cindy Ludwig

    Who writes this stuff? Dr. Grandin is NOT a veterinarian. She has a PhD in animal science and is a professor at Colorado State University. Dr. Grandin has autism and developed the squeeze machine for herself while in college to alleviate her symptoms of anxiety associated with her autism (http://www.grandin.com/inc/squeeze.html). She got the idea when she observed how cattle were held snugly in a chute to calm them for inoculations. Why do you write, "Vets across the country are saying no thanks to one of the most popular new products in pet accessories. It’s called the Thundershirt" and then end saying, "the Thundershirt definitely can’t hurt." Where did you get the 2000 number of customers sampled by Thundershirt? They do not advertise that statistic on their website and it is not published elsewhere. The original Anxiety Wrap (www.anxietywrap.com) was invented by certified professional dog trainer and T-touch practitioner, Susan Sharpe. Its unique, patented design works by maintained pressure (http://anxietywrap.com/files/pdfs/TheTechniqueOfMaintainedPressure.pdf) and by targeting acupressure points. The Thundershirt is a knockoff that came out 8 years after the Anxiety Wrap. To read more about how the products compare, see this article: http://dubuquedogtrainer.hubpages.com/hub/dog_anxiety_wrap.

    Reply
    • Tabitha Kristen

      This was a long time ago but, if you'll read it again, it clearly says, "World-renowned veterinarians and experts like Dr. Temple Grandin…" Nowhere does it call her a Veterinarian. It calls her an expert.

      Reply
  2. Sophie Hoad

    Hi Cindy,

    When I wrote, “Vets across the country are saying no, thanks to one of the most popular new products in pet accessories. It’s called the Thundershirt” I was referencing the previous sentence “should pet owners result to doggy Prozac?” in which the answer would be no.

    You can read more about the customers sampled by Thundershirt here: http://www.thundershirt.com/

    The 2,000 figure came from the company’s website: “Based on surveys completed by over two thousand customers, over 80% of dogs show significant improvement in symptoms when using Thundershirt.” This can be seen in the first paragraph of the “How It Works” tab.

    Thanks very much for your knowledge and helpful links- I’m sure readers will be glad to have multiple options when shopping for their pets, and to know that Thundershirt isn’t the first company to market this idea.

    Sophie Hoad

    Reply
  3. Jenn Merritt, CPDT-KA, TTouch Practitioner

    As I professional dog trainer, I use and recommend Thundershirt for a variety of issues including noise anxiety. It is easy for pet owners to apply and adjust, is affordable, is available at most pet stores, and in over 80% of my clients, it eases anxiety and fear. And if anyone deserves credit for originating the idea of using pressure to calm, it is founder of the TTouch Method, Linda Tellington-Jones. TTouch practitioners have been using body wraps for decades and Linda Tellington-Jones now recommends Thundershirt and sells them on the TTouch website.

    Reply
  4. Cindy Ludwig, M.A., KPA-CTP

    Sophie – Sorry, I must have misread what you wrote. For that I apologize. However, it is important to note that the Anxiety Wrap is the original and only patented pressure wrap, and that medication does have a role in the treatment of anxiety. Exactly where it fits in is beyond the scope of this post, but readers can refer to the article above in which I compare the various anxiety-reducing garments. It is important for readers to understand that there is no panacea for anxiety. All cases are different and all of these products must be used appropriately, oftentimes in conjunction with other therapies, and preferably under the direction of a certified or licensed professional.

    The Anxiety Wrap was invented in 2001 (eight years before the Thundershirt was introduced) by Certified Professional Dog Trainer and T-Touch Practitioner, Susan Sharpe – eight years before the Thundershirt came on the market.

    The Anxiety Wrap invented the pressure wrap category of patented products. Inventor, Susan Sharpe experimented with over 90 different prototypes in the research and development of her product, and consulted with Dr. Temple Grandin. Of course she used her knowledge of T-touch in the design and development. This is part of what makes the Anxiety Wrap such a unique and effective product.

    The Anxiety Wrap is mentioned in one of Grandin’s books, “Animals Make Us Human,” page 54.

    Its patented design includes many features that make it superior to the Thundershirt. It not only provides more coverage and hence more maintained pressure but the velcro closures are at the dog’s back rather than near its face, an important consideration for sound-sensitive dogs, which characterizes most anxious canines.

    The Anxiety Wrap is also the only pressure wrap that uses acupressure as well as maintained (constant) pressure.

    As a registered nurse of 35 years, previously certified in critical care, with advanced education in physiology as well as animal behavior, and a certified dog trainer who works with fearful and aggressive dogs on a regular basis, I endorse the Anxiety Wrap. I have found it to be consistently reliable in producing behavioral calm in a wide variety of anxious dogs with various anxiety-related disorders.

    In a recent clinical research study conducted by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, the Anxiety Wrap was found to be effective in 89% of the dogs in the study and researchers concluded that the Anxiety Wrap is a “safe and effective treatment for thunderstorm phobia.”

    The Anxiety Wrap is easy to use, comes with expert product support from certified professionals, and comes with the same money-back guarantee that the Thundershirt does. Both products cost the same.

    The Anxiety Wrap was the original and is still the best pressure wrap in my book. I have had clients who have ordered the Thundershirt by mistake and we saw absolutely no reduction in anxious behavior. I have no doubt it works with some dogs with mild anxiety, but due to its superior design, effectiveness rate and the excellent customer service provided by certified professional dog trainers, the Anxiety Wrap is the best buy!

    Reply

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