ThunderShirt Helps Fido Face Fear

thunder shirt, fear
Jonesie the pooch sleeps through a storm in her ThunderShirt brand anxiety-reducing jacket. Teresa Crowder/HowStuffWorks

Does your bow wow kowtow to loud noises like fireworks and thunder? Freak out every time it rains? If you answered yes, rest assured your canine cohort is not alone. Millions of dogs the world over experience fear and trembling as a facet of daily life. In fact, noise phobia is a major anxiety-related concern for most pet owners. Vacuum cleaners, leaf blowers and backfires, oh my!

Noise anxiety can manifest in a myriad of symptoms and intensity levels. Thunder, lightning flashes, changes in atmospheric pressure and the sound of wind and rain battering the roof and walls may cause panting, whimpering and clinging behavior. Or your canis lupus familiaris may run amok in a panic and literally "renovate" your house. Same goes for fireworks. The boom-boom is bad enough, but the sulfur smell, the glaring lights and screeching rocket sounds can fill your daunted doggie with an overweening sense of insecurity and dread. What's a petrified pup to do?


Meet the sartorial solution to Fido's fear: the ThunderShirt, aka the calming coat, the anxiety jacket, the anti-anxiety vest or the pressure wrap. Based on the concept of swaddling, the ThunderShirt is a low-tech, hugs-not-drugs approach to treating the fear response in animals. Made of lightweight, durable fabric that compresses somewhat like Spandex, the adjustable Velcro closures, when fitted properly, apply gentle lateral pressure to your tag-along's torso, providing the same physiological effect of being close to you — like a constant hug. Designed to be easy to put on and take off, 80 percent of pet owners who have tried it report positive outcomes not just for noise phobias, but for other stressful situations like road trips, vet visits, and separation anxiety.

As Queen frontman Freddie Mercury rhapsodized to the scared pooch inside us all: Thunderbolt and lightning very, very frightening me. True that. Yes, man and dog alike, we're all in this together. And heads-up fraidy cats: The ThunderShirt is available for felines too.