The concept of anxiety vests for dogs is remarkably simple. These snug-fitting, wrap-around garments work on the theory that applying consistent, gentle pressure to a dog's torso will produce a calming effect. It's like swaddling an infant or giving a distressed person a comforting hug. In this article, we explain why using an anxiety vest could be a good idea for your anxious dog.
Why Do Dogs Become Anxious?
There are many different things that can trigger anxiety in a dog, among them are:
Of these, thunderstorms are probably the most common trigger for anxiety in dogs because there are so many individual stimuli involved in bad weather.
Thunderstorms are noisy like fireworks and include frightening visual stimuli, such as lighting. Lightning also causes changes in the air's ozone content, leading to static electricity shocks which can be disconcerting. The pounding of rain or sleet on the roof can cause anxiety. High winds and changes in barometric pressure can cause dogs to become anxious. This is why storm phobia is common among dogs.
What are the Best Brands of Anxiety Wrap?
1. ThunderShirt Sport Anxiety Jacket
The Thundershirt system is one that is popular with many dog owners because of the swaddling style of the compression wrap. This version gets great reviews because is another that guarantees a secure, comfortable fit with a close compression system across the chest and body. It comes in different sizes from XXS to XXL so there should be a good fit for most breeds. An added bonus with this vest is the use of the reflective trims and bright colors on the breathable material. This means extra protection when using the vest outside at night.
2. Mellow Shirt Calming Vests for Dogs
The first thing that stands out with this comfort zone vest is the amount of coverage. This is a complete system to wraps around almost the entire body, which means a lot more compression on the chest than some other brands. The fit is reasonably adjustable and there is some flexibility in the material. That breathable material also has a special spray spot where the owner can apply a soothing spray. It isn’t the nicest looking model with the dull, grey material. But, this is a product that is about effective therapy over style. The design should offer enough pressure in the right places to calm dogs during storms and firework displays
3. ThunderShirt Polo Jacket
This next model is another in that ThunderShirt range. Again, it comes in lots of different color options and sizes to suit lots of different breeds. The idea here is that this has a more simple, smoother shape in a blend of polyester, spandex and rayon. This sleeker option doesn’t cover as much of the body, but may fit underneath other items of clothing. Therefore, dogs could wear this under a coat on colder days. Otherwise, the compression system and velcro closures are as reliable as ever. There also the same great reviews for results o anxiety and stress.
4. American Kennel Club Anti Anxiety Calming Coat for Dogs
This vest will stand out to a lot of dog owners straight away because it has that American Kennel Club association. This large compression vest – which comes in grey, pink or dark blue – is designed as a true medical device rather than a fashion item. There is a thick wrap around the body of the dog and a strong closure across the chest. There are sizes between XS and XL and each option is classed as machine washable item. This is a no-nonsense approach that is relatively easy to put on the dog and can lead to some speedy results.
5. CozyFur 3-in-1 Dog Anti Anxiety Vest
While the option above is very simplistic, this one tries to throw lots of different features into one vest. This is classed a 3-in-1 model because it offers more than just that compression wrap around the body. There is a built-in music player that can provide calming music during the worst of the storms or other anxiety-inducing events. Then there is the pendant that has lavender and chamomile essential oils. The idea here is that this vest works with different senses for a more effective approach. This compression jacket also comes in sizes from XXS to XXL.
What Happens When A Dog Becomes Anxious?
Anxious dogs are miserable, and may exhibit many different responses to anxiety. An anxious dog may bark, whine, pant and/or tremble. Some dogs pace or exhibit destructive behavior, such as pawing or chewing on woodwork or doors. In addition to causing structural damage to your home, this sort of behavior can hurt your dog's paws, claws and teeth. me dogs like to stay close to their owners, but other hide in small spaces. Dogs kept outside may jump fences and run away, leaving them susceptible to all sorts of dangerous events.
How Does An Anxiety Wrap Help?
When the wrap is put on correctly, it distributes firm, even pressure over your dog's chest, sides and back. It is like a constant hug. This gentle pressure triggers the release of feel-good hormones (endorphins) that promote an overall sense of well-being.
How to Put on a Thundershirt
Do Anxiety Wraps Really Calm Dogs Down?
Scientific evidence of the efficacy of these wraps is scant, but anecdotal evidence is abundant. Many pet owners have seen their anxious dogs calm down considerably when wearing an anxiety vest. Dogs often seem much less agitated and far more confident with the vest on, so many owners consider anxiety vests to be a good remedy for canine anxiety.
It is worth noting that animal behaviorists think that this may be a misinterpretation. They point out that the vest may cause the dog to feel inhibited so that he doesn't want to make noise or move. They are concerned that he may still be anxious, but may simply be hampered by the vest.
How Can You Be Sure Your Dog Is Comfortable In The Vest?
One way to work around this concern is to be sure that the vest is not construed as a punishment. Introduce it to your dog during a calm time and allow him to wear it during pleasant activities. In this way, the dog will not just think of the vest as something that accompanies frightening experiences.
You'll want to hit a balance, though. Don't have your dog wear the vest all the time as this may reduce its effectiveness. You may want to use other types of garments during good weather and times when you are home, so that your dog will be used to "wearing clothes" in good times and bad. Pull out the anxiety vest when a thunderstorm is predicted, before a party, ride in the car or other anxiety producing event.
Keep in mind that, just as with any other natural remedy, effectiveness will vary from one dog to another. If your dog is extremely anxious, you may need to support use of the anxiety vest with environmental adjustments, behavior modification training and/or medication.
Does Thundershirt Work For Barking Problems?
What's The Best Way To Handle Phobias And Anxiety In Dogs?
Addressing these problems can be a real challenge for pet owners. An anxiety vest can be very helpful and certainly will do no harm. In addition to using a vest, here are some other tips you may wish to try:
- 1Be present during stressful events. If you know that your dog is afraid of fireworks or having his nails trimmed or any other event, don't leave him alone during these times. Dogs often panic when they are left all alone. Spend quality time with your dog. When you must go out, leave a radio on to help keep him company.
- 2Plan ahead. If your dog is afraid of inclement weather, keep an eye on the weather forecast. Be sure your dog is wearing his vest in advance of bad weather. Stay home during bad weather if you can.
- 3Give your dog a safe space. Set up a quiet area in your home where your dog can feel safe during thunderstorms, when visitors are in the house or during other potentially anxiety producing events.
- 4Model good behavior. If you are a nervous wreck, your dog will be a nervous wreck. Stay calm and manage your own stress. Practice deep breathing, speak quietly, handle your own fears and frustrations sensibly.
It may take time to get your dog's anxiety problems under control, but with patience and the right combination of remedies, you and your dog should soon be able to weather storms and other anxiety producing challenges with ease.