Thundershirt for Dog’s Anxiety

If you follow me on Instagram, you’d know that I am the proud mommy of a Mini Schnauzer named Oscar.

This little boy is turning 10 years old this month. One human years is said to be equivalent of 7 dog years. So, based on that calculation logic, my Oscar boy would technically be turning 70 years old! Whoa!

I constantly joke to people, “My dog is almost an old man at 70 years old. And he doesn’t have a job and still lives with his parents!”

I still call him my “little boy” or “puppy” every now and then, although he’s very much an adult dog now and by no means a puppy. It’s hard to let go of the image I had of him as a 2 month old puppy wshen I got him, especially when he’s still small in size and constantly giving me those “puppy eyes”.

Anyways, I digress.

My Oscar boy is a hyper doggie. He’s “fixed” but he’s still bouncy and active as ever, and has shown no signs of old age. He still runs around amok and jumps around the couch and bed as he would when he was a young puppy. Sure, he’s not as agile but he’s still as active as can be. However, in the last few years, I noticed that he’s been reacting very differently to loud noises and thunder. He never used to be afraid of this when he was young, it was something he developed with age.

I feel bad whenever I see him running around panting, speedy heartbeats, shivering, nudging my arms, anxious to get close to me for protection; whenever the thunder starts booming, some fireworks start going off on some festivities, or a random loud booms from nearby construction site.

Poor thing would wake me up in the middle of the night if it’s raining heavily outside. He would jump on top of my pillow, literally sitting on my face, shaking.

I usually hold him close, try to calm him down. Nothing really works. He’s just as anxious as ever. Initially I laughed off his wimpy-ness, but over time I get concerned that this fear was really out of character for him. According to a post on Cesar Milan (aka The Dog Whisperer) website, “Experts think your little guy might be responding to a combination of barometric pressure changes that you don’t feel and low-frequency rumbles that you can’t hear.”

This is common for a lot of dogs, and I guess I just really want to find some sort of relief to eliminate this anxiety.

 

Introducing the Thundershirt

Some friends have been talking about Thundershirt to relief dog anxiety for this very ocassion. Me and Hubby read up about it and it seems to have helped a lot of dog owners who have similar concerns with their dogs’ anxiety with fireworks, thunderstorm and loud noises in general.

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Thundershirt is the best solution for dog anxieties caused by thunderstorm, travel, separation and much more.

It’s a dog jacket that simulates a comforting hug or swaddle to calm your pooches down in stressful situation. I don’t quite understand the logic behind this but Thunderworks, the company behind Thundershirt, have been conducting various Anxiety Research in Dogs and came up with this product that has supposedly helped a lot of dogs control this panic.

Thundershirt - Amazon review
Some positive Amazon.com reviews & feedback

There has been some genuinely positive reviews on Amazon.com as well, from multiple dog owners on how successful the Thundershirt has been to relief their anxious doggies.

The Thundershirt YouTube channel also includes a number of news coverage on TV on the effectiveness of the Thundershirt.

 

Where to Buy Thundershirt?

After much deliberation, I placed the order for a Thundershirt on the official website at www.thundershirt.com along with some customisation option (embroidered name) and had it ship over via my usual freight forwarder, Vpost.

Thundershirt - Product Page

The original Thundershirt retails for USD$ 39.95 (approx RM 129) in Heather Grey colour. Other options include:-

  • Other colour choices such as Blue Polo, Camo Polo, Green Polo,  Holiday Red and Pink Polo for an extra USD$ 5 (~RM 16)
  • Custom Embroidery of your doggie’s name for an extra USD$ 10 (~RM 32)
  • Add-on Thunderspray (pheromones & lavender and chamomile fragrance) for USD$ 19.95 (~RM 65)

Alternatively, there is also a Malaysian website that was selling the Thundershirt at www.thunderdogsmalaysia.com. I’m unsure if this is a trusted site (payment, original, delivery, reliability), so I’m warning you to beware and order with caution.

Because I wanted to ensure that I got the original Thundershirt from the original manufacturer in US, I’d rather pay more with additional shipping from US through a freight forwarder. You can choose to do the same, or order from Amazon.com or local Malaysian pet shops or online sites. Your call.

 

Unboxing and Modelling the Thundershirt

As soon as my order was placed, the product was shipped the next day. Once it reached my freight forwarder and I paid for the shipping from their warehouse in US to Malaysia, it reached me in less than 10 days.

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Thundershirt, Brochure & Guide

Inside the box, there’s the Thundershirt, a quick instruction guide and a small flyer promoting their other products.

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The guide suggests that you put the Thundershirt on your dog in normal condition first, to get your dog accustomed to wearing it. I guess this is especially helpful for owners who don’t normally put “clothes” on their dogs. Oscar don’t usually wear pet clothes, except on special ocassions like CNY, Christmas. So, he was quite comfortable to let me put the Thundershirt on him.

Thundershirt Review - Overview

The happy boy was very cooperative when I put the Thundershirt on him. One thing I did notice though that as soon as I velcro-ed and tighten him in the shirt, he almost looked rigid. He was just sitting there, like in the picture above, unsure of what to do. Unsure if he should lie down, he should walk around – he was just rigid for a couple of minutes. Either he’s uncomfortable wearing the baju, or the Thundershirt was working and he’s getting used to it and generally being a lot calmer.

The Thundershirt is held together by a series of velcro flaps. The guide in the box has a pictorial diagram on how to put on the Thundershirt on yur doggie. Overall, Oscar was calm when I put it on. He’s just not especially friendly when I take it off – the sound of velcro gets to him!

As you can see in the bottom right picture, there’s a round badge, which is used to spray the lavender and chamomile Thunderspray fragrance, which has calming effect in case the Thundershirt alone wasn’t enough.

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Modeling his Thundershirt, with logo on the left

I originally thought that the Thundershirt was made of neoprene material, like that of diving wetsuits so it’s stretchable and gives a better tightening hugging feel. I was wrong – it’s actually made of cotton, breathable cotton. It’s not thick like a sweater, so it’ss actually weather friendly for tropical country like Malaysia and your dog won’t be hot.

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Right side has the custom embroidery of his name
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Close up of the embroidery

Yes, my chubs-chubs doggie looking fatter in his skin tight Thundershirt. I absolutely love  the embroidery of his name on his shirt.

 

Did It Work?

I feel bad that for the next few days after I received the Thundershirt shipment, I was hoping for a thunderstorm so I could test and see if it worked. 🙁

But I forgot about it for awhile, until one day, the sky started looking really gloomy in the afternoon and the wind starting blowing erratically. I recognised that a thunderstorm is about to brew. I called my dog over and strapped the Thundershirt on Oscar. Poor puppy have no idea why mommy suddenly wants to dress him up!

Shortly after the rain started, thunder and lightning followed promptly.

Well, Oscar was still anxious. He wasn’t pacing around as much, but he was still hiding under the table where I was working. He was still panting and whining, although not as frantically as before.

I snapped this picture and posted it on Instagram.

He was next to me, climbing up to nudge my arm on the armrest, wanting me to cuddle him and calm him down. He was still anxious through the thunderstorm. WTF?

Well, that was a bit of a bust! This Thundershirt didn’t work at all. I was expecting a completely unfazed and calm dog, but nope!

I tighten his Thundershirt some more, to give him a tighter swaddle, hoping it would help. It didn’t. He was still anxious, although I did notice a slight improvement and he was less stressed.

Then, I read more about it – In the same article on Cesar Milan’s website here, it also states that “Remember that even if storm anxiety crops up suddenly, treatments tend to take time to work.” So, I’m going to give this Thundershirt some more time to work its magic before I give up on it.

Since then, it rained heavily like that a couple more times. Every time, right before the storm was about to hit, I strapped the Thundershirt on Oscar and hoped for the best before the first thunder and lighting combo strikes.

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Every time Oscar had his Thundershirt on, he was ever so slightly calmer than before. So slight that it can almost be unnoticeable sometimes.

I did, however, notice that Oscar’s no longer shivering. He’s anxious, stressed and still panting, but hey – no shivering! That’s good news!!!

On Amazon’s product review, there were equal amounts of 1-star criticism that the Thundershirt didn’t work for their dogs, and I almost want to agree with the same comments. But then, Hubby encouraged me to keep at it, perhaps the result is not immediate but will gradually improve? So, I persevered.

 

It’s not rained as heavily lately, but I know I would be using the Thundershirt a lot more towards the end of the year, when it’s the rainy season at this part of the world.

I seriously have friends who swear by the Thundershirt with real-life experiences and success stories that it has worked wonders for their doggies. Then, there’s also this video compilation from Thundershirt themselves with video proof.

I feel so bad for the shivering and stressed out doggies. Very much like my Oscar boy and I so want to just reach out and cuddle them. 🙁 But it’s a good video showing the different scenarios the Thundershirt will work for the doggies. Not just for thunderstorms but any stressful and anxiety driven scenarios.

Oscar barks uncontrollably when guests come to the house. Perhaps I’ll put on the Thundershirt so he doesn’t wake the whole neighbourhood up anymore when we have a house guest? Mental note  to try this next time and report back!

Anyone of my readers here have heard of, or personally tried the Thundershirt? Let me know.

 


Click to buy

Thundershirt For Dogs

from Amazon.com

 


 

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