It is that time of year where there are a lot of Thunder Storms and people shooting off fireworks. I have a 10 year old Cairn Terrier who just freaks out with the noise and it is so bad that we are always looking for something to calm him down.
Last year we got a prescription from our vet for tranquilizers but we think he had a small seizure while on them and then this past winter he had another seizure while he was not on them so our vet told us to not give him any more tranquilizers because they can lower the threshold for seizures.
So here we are and it’s summer again so I decided that I would try to order a couple products and see if they help. The first one I got was the Thunder Shirt. I ordered it from Amazon.com because I had some reward points there so it was nearly free. The other thing I ordered were some homeopathic drops but we have not thoroughly tested them yet.
When the ThunderShirt first arrived it was clear that this was not a shirt but a wrap that went together with Velcro and then there was more Velcro so that you can get a snug fit. My dog was probably on the small side for this size shirt but the smaller one would have been too small. They have designed it so that you can make it work for a wide variety of sizes. Riley is kinda of a stocky dog so he needed the room around the chest but is not so long so the part that wrapped around his chest seemed like it could have been smaller. If you are going to try one make sure to measure your dog and get the right size.
The shirt is made of what appears to be a cotton blend stretchy grey fabric. It is thicker than a T shirt but not as thick as a sweat shirt. It was quite a trick figuring out how to put it on my dog but eventually I figured it out with the help of the instructions. The packaging suggests that you leave it partly velcroed and just slip it back on the dog rather than taking it completely apart each time.
When you place the shirt on your dog it should fit snugly but not be so tight that it cuts their circulation off.
How it is Supposed to Work
The way that this is supposed to calm your dog down is based on research that shows that animals who have pressure on their sides and back can be calmed down. The shirt puts that pressure and I think that it would perhaps work for a dog that is not used to having any clothes on because it would sort of surprise them in the same way that a dog or cat will act like they can not walk if you try to put a coat or costumer on them. That is my theory. I was skeptical because my dog wears clothes all the time and is not bothered by them at all.
I tried the ThunderShirt out first during a thunder storm. My dog was not too ramped up so I was able to get the shirt on him and snug and then let him go and watched. I felt that it made a very small impact on him. It was so slight that I might have just been imagining it. My husband and I felt that after about 20 minutes wearing the shirt that he might have calmed down a bit but could not be sure if it was the shirt or he had just worn himself out. I was a little concerned about leaving the shirt on him when he was running around and panting because he was already hot and I felt that the snug shirt would make him hotter. We decided to take the shirt off and we may try it again another time but I would say at best it cut the barking down by maybe 5% and that did not seem worth it for it making him hotter wearing the snug shirt.
Frankly I think you could get the same thing by wrapping your dog with an ace bandage and save yourself a lot of cash. It really is about the same concept.
Why I think it did not work for our dog
I think because Riley wears clothes all the time, he just was not affected any differently than what he already had on. I tend to think that perhaps if the shirt had some weight to it rather than just having the pressure of the snug fabric that this might work better. To me I think something like the lead apron that they put on you at the dentist might have a greater impact without having to be so tight.
If you have a dog who acts like they can’t walk when you put a costume on them then I would guess the thunder shirt would work but frankly think you could get the same effect by putting a cheaper outfit on them, or as I suggested earlier, wrap them up with an ace bandage.
Final thoughts and Rating
While I think that the ThunderShirt can work for some dogs, I think it is a huge gimmick and if your dog is one that it will work for, I would think you could get the same effect from a cheaper outfit or an ace bandage type wrap. All for way less than the $40 I paid for the Thunder Shirt
I am going to give the shirt 2 stars out of 5 because I think it can work for some dogs but can not recommend because I think it is overpriced for what you get and you could get the same results with any other snug shirt.
For More info http://www.thundershirt.com/