Anxious Pets and Thundershirts
It’s storm season again and our thoughts turn to those of our pets that are reduced to a nervous wreck by the rumble of thunder and scary flashes of lightning. Thunderstorms can be a source of great fear and anxiety for dogs and cats and, until recently, very little could be done by their owners to calm their pets other than offer cuddles and reassurances until the storm passed. Thanks to the inventiveness of products like Zendog and ThunderShirt, an all-natural, drug-free solution has been devised to calm your pet. Calming shirts! These can be used for many different situations, not just during thunder storms.
- Fear of loud noises such as thunder or fireworks;
- Separation anxiety;
- Agitation when introduced to a new home or environment;
- Agitation during socialising or training;
- Travel anxiety, such as vomiting, shaking, panting, salivating or general agitation;
- Anxiety caused by visiting the vet;
- Anxiety caused by kennelling or boarding.
- Stressed caused by changes to the environment, such as renovations or replacing furniture;
- Aid in the reduction of barking;
- Reducing destructive behaviour as in chewing or scratching; and
- Toileting mishaps.
- Agitation in a new home or environment;
- Stress due to changes in the home or environment;
- Introduction of new pets;
- Travel anxiety;
- Anxiety caused when visiting the vet;
- Stress caused by boarding and separation;
- Indoor urine spraying;
- Destructive behaviour such as scratching; and
- Recurrent feline idiopathic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).
Calming shirts apply gentle but constant pressure to certain points on your pet’s body in the same way that swaddling helps to calm newborn babies. This constant pressure also helps to release hormones like oxytocin or endorphins that give us and our pets a calm, warm, relaxed feeling. Studies have shown that the pressure from calming shirts have helped over 80% of cats and dogs with their anxiety issues.
Signs that your pet is suffering from stress or anxiety include trembling, seeking out a hiding place during thunderstorms, hearing fireworks or loud noises. Destructive behaviour, especially when left alone, can be signs of separation anxiety. There are also some not-so-obvious signs that your pet is suffering such as lip-licking, excessive yawning and tail wagging.
Did you know that certain dog breeds are predisposed to suffer from anxiety more than others?
Some studies have shown that dogs with higher intelligence and breeds that are highly active are more likely to suffer from stress and anxiety, the reason being these types of dog breeds thrive in an environment that encourages more activity or allows their need for social interactions. When their natural desires are stifled they become anxious and stressed out. Such breeds include:
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Basset Hounds
- Cocker Spaniels
- German Shepherds
- Great Pyrenees
- Siberian Huskies
- Standard poodles
- Also some terrier breeds
ThunderShirts are easily fitted with Velcro fasteners. Always ensure a comfortable but snug fit when putting your pet’s calming shirt on. You pet needs to feel like they’re being given a gentle hug.
Just a few things to keep in mind
When first introducing your pet to a calming shirt it’s best that your pet be in a calm mood to begin with and not suffering from high levels of anxiety. This is to ensure that your pet doesn’t associate their new shirt with being scared. For positive reinforcement, give your pet a treat or two. Calming shirts can be worn for extended periods of time but it is recommended that you remove it a couple of times a day. Please also keep in mind that if your pets do show signs of overheating during particularly hot days to remove the shirt immediately.
Calming shirts are made from a durable machine-washable fabric. If you find that there is any hair stuck in the Velcro fasteners, just use a grooming slicker brush to remove it.