A Thunder Shirt Could Help Your Dog's Anxiety During Summer Storms—These Are Our Top Picks
What Is a Thunder Shirt for Dogs?
Thunder shirts for dogs, also sometimes called thunder coats or thunder jackets, fit snug around your dog's torso to help calm anxious pups. In the same way that swaddling a baby or giving someone a hug gives them comfort, the pressure on your dog's torso can help them feel more calm in stressful situations, like during a storm, fireworks, trips to the vet, and more. Whether it's a wrap, vest, jacket, or shirt, they all work to accomplish the same goal—to help calm your precious pup.
Do Thunder Shirts for Dogs Actually Work?
Haylee Bergeland, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, RBT, Daily Paws' editor of pet health and behavior, has recommended thunder shirts to clients as one piece of the puzzle for supporting dogs with anxiety.
"They can be great tools for additional support to a dog that is experiencing stress, fear, or anxiety," she says. "However, they are not meant to solve or address the reasons why a dog is experiencing those things. They should be used in combination with good environmental management, positive reinforcement training, desensitization and counterconditioning, and possibly medication (if the pet has severe anxiety). While there is little data confirming the efficacy of anxiety wraps, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that they do help some dogs."
How to Introduce Your Dog to Thunder Shirts
So the answer is yes—these anxiety wraps can help your dog, as additional support. Just remember to test it out on your dog during several different calming scenarios before having to use it during a stressful one.
"You cannot just put it on the dog the moment a thunderstorm hits and expect it to go well," Bergeland says.
Dog parents should practice using a thunder shirt during non-stressful times for just a few minutes, giving them lots of praise and treats during and after wearing the thunder shirt, Bergeland advises. This way it isn't something new and surprising to the dog during an already stressful situation.
And keep in mind that some dogs won't like the feeling of it—just like some humans don't like being touched or hugged—so don't force it if your dog is uncomfortable.