Fireworks can be fun for kids and a good way to celebrate. Thunder is powerful and beautiful as storms roll in over the horizon. What do these things have in common? They can both be huge sources of anxiety for your pet. Not all dogs get anxiety from loud noises. However, many dogs will develop some sort of anxiety in their lifetime.
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Dog anxiety can look like anything from your dog shaking and panting to destroying furniture and trying to escape. Because dog anxiety is so common, many pet parents have sought solutions to help their dogs in any way they can. Some seek medication from their veterinarians, but others have turned to using products such as a dog anxiety vest, like the thundershirt for dogs, to help ease their pup’s anxiety.
How Does a ThunderShirt Work For Dogs?
So, what is a thundershirt for dogs? It was originally created to help dogs with their anxiety from loud noises, but they have since proven they can help with other types of anxiety as well. Many use the thundershirt for separation anxiety in dogs that have issues when they are not home.
It acts as a calming coat for dogs and works by applying consistent pressure to your dog’s body. This pressure is similar to getting a good hug for us humans, and the thundershirt can provide the same hormones and calming effect that hugs do. This pressure can help to calm dogs even in the worst storms.
If your dog has separation anxiety or is frightened of loud noises, a thundershirt can be a wonderful investment to help ease your dog’s anxiety, but there are some things you should know before you buy.
How to Measure for a ThunderShirt
Thundershirts come in a variety of sizes, from XXS to XXL, which means that there’s a thundershirt for small dogs to large dogs.
Each one has two straps with hook and loop fasteners, which make for easy adjusting and can help your dog be comfortable. However, you need to get the proper size, and in order to do that, you need to know how to measure appropriately.
The best practice to measure your dog for a thundershirt would be to use a soft measuring tape to make it easy on yourself and your dog. According to the sizing guides for ThunderShirts, they recommend you measure your dog’s chest.
A dog’s chest refers to the widest part of your dog’s torso. This area is usually right behind your dog’s front legs or their “armpits” and goes around their ribcage. Wrap the soft measuring tape around this area to get the general sizing for your pet.
It’s recommended that if your dog’s chest size is “in between” sizes, you should go with the smaller size. In addition, you shouldn’t rely on a dog’s weight for sizing as measurements are always best, and male dog’s may need smaller sizing to prevent irritation from the end of the thundershirt.
Once you have your measurements, check out the ThunderShirt size chart below to work out the right thundershirt sizing for your anxious dog.
How to Put on a ThunderShirt
Once you have measured your dog’s chest correctly and got the right size, you will need to know how to put a thundershirt on a dog. It’s often a good idea to put it on before your dog needs it, so they can get used to it.
Start by letting your dog get a good sniff of the thundershirt and make sure they’ve had proper exercise. Anxious dogs can become anxious for a variety of reasons, and you don’t want to add to it by trying to force something strange or unfamiliar on them.
When your dog’s ready, start by undoing the straps. Then, you’ll need to place the body of the thundershirt, or the longest part, along your dog’s back. The straps should be hanging down.
Grab the shoulder straps and wrap them around your dog’s neck, towards the front of their chest. These straps are usually used to hold the thundershirt in place, so there shouldn’t be any pressure.
Next, you’ll wrap the long torso flap around your dog’s ribcage, right where you had measured. Secure that longer flap with the short strap. One final long flap will help secure the thundershirt into place.
Below is a great video by ThunderWorks for Dogs & Cats showing instructions on how to put a thundershirt on a dog.
How tight should a ThunderShirt be?
The fit for your dog’s thundershirt should be snug and secure, so it shouldn’t twist or rotate on your dog. However, it should not be so tight your dog has trouble breathing or walking around.
It’s best to follow the natural curve of your dog’s torso without pulling upward on the flaps too much. If you’re still unsure, you should be able to fit your fingers easily in between your dog’s skin and the thundershirt. If you can fit more than your fingers, then it is too loose. If you can’t fit your fingers between your dog’s skin and the flaps, then it’s likely too tight.
How long can you keep a ThunderShirt on a dog?
If you’re wondering how long can you leave a thundershirt on a dog, it is really up to your dog! Some dogs will enjoy the weight and pressure for extended periods of time. However, it’s recommended that during the first few weeks of using the thundershirt, that you remove it every few hours.
This is important during the beginning because it will give you a chance to make sure the thunder shirt fits properly and isn’t making your pet uncomfortable.
Once your dog has gotten used to the thunder shirt, it’s recommended that you remove it at least twice a day.
Many times, however, pet parents will only put them on their dogs whenever they know there will be a source of anxiety. For example, if your dog has separation anxiety, you can put it on your dog as you’re getting ready for the day to help calm them and prepare them for your time away.
The Best Practices for a Calm Pup
The thundershirt can work like magic for your anxious dog. However, there are other techniques that can help your dog reach their maximum zen. You can use supplementary products and create a space where your dog feels the most safe.
Some pet parents use CBD oils and treats to calm their pets as well.
Creating a comforting space for your pet to go can also ease your dog’s anxiety. Having an isolated space like a downstairs room with a fan or even your dog’s kennel is a good idea. In addition, getting a calming bed can help your dog be more at ease. Consider adding your dog’s favorite toys and treats to this space as well.
Using the thundershirt in addition to one of these other methods can really help ease your dog’s anxiety.
Dog anxiety can be stressful for both dog parents and dogs. Fortunately, there are many ways you can help your dog face their fears and ease their tension. Now you know how to put a thundershirt on a dog, you’ll find it provides comfort for dogs, and an easy way to calm your dog during a storm, a firework celebration, or a separation from their favorite human.