Her Dog Had Terrible Anxiety Until She Tried a “ThunderShirt”

Do you believe in miracles? Finding the perfect product to ease her stressed-out pup, was an answer to this mom's prayers.

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anxious dog sitting in a blanket on the couchCourtesy Mary Fabrizio

Just like humans, dogs can experience overwhelming anxiety. This often manifests in ways that are unpleasant not just for your pup but also for your entire household. Owners of anxious dogs will do almost anything to calm their fears, of course. The good news is that there are solutions out there—you just have to find the right one for your pet. When you do, as pet parent Mary Fabrizio learned, it feels like a miracle.

A classic case of anxiety

Mary and her family adopted Emily, a shepherd mix, from the Humane Society when she was just nine weeks old, and she didn’t seem to have any anxiety issues at first. In fact, everything seemed absolutely fine until Emily turned three and she started exhibiting a deep fear of loud noises. “Gunshots, thunder, and fireworks make her very upset. She hides in the bathtub and shakes all over,” Mary explains. “We did try a calming sedative for her, but I didn’t like drugging her, and it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference.”

The product that changed everything

Finally, Mary discovered the ThunderShirt. She doesn’t remember if someone suggested it or if she read about it online somewhere, but it was—and continues to be—a godsend. “It acts like a warm hug for her,” she says.

thundershirtvia petco.com

The ThunderShirt is essentially a cozy jacket that wraps around a dog’s middle, allowing their head, legs, and tail to be free. It provides a gentle, constant pressure that induces a sense of calm in dogs. The ThunderShirt is meant to be worn in particularly stressful situations, such as when traveling, when around loud noises, or when dealing with separation anxiety.

While Emily still shakes a little bit when she hears loud noises, even when she’s wearing her special shirt, her anxiety isn’t nearly as bad as it had been before. Now, Mary takes a proactive approach, making sure Emily wears it on days when she knows there will be a lot of noise—including the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve when fireworks are rampant—and staying home to cuddle with her. And on other days when the anxiety rears its ugly head, on goes the ThunderShirt. When she’s wearing it, Emily will curl up beside one of her family members instead of retreating to the bathtub.

Other soothing solutions for your pup

Of course, every dog is different, and even the tiniest difference can, well, make a huge difference in terms of how your dog reacts. Some other similarly calming items your pup can wear include the Calming Coat for Dogs and the Healers Anxiety & Therapeutic Dog Body Wrap.

If this type of product doesn’t work, don’t worry—you still have options. Some people have found luck with anxiety-reducing supplements like Zesty Paws Advanced Calming Bites, a high-tech solution like the Calmer Canine Anxiety Treatment System (which uses sensation-free microcurrent signals to produce endorphin-like chemicals in your canine’s brain), and even calming music made specifically for dogs like Wholetones for Pets.

Your veterinarian can also prescribe anxiety medications that can take the edge off and bring more peace to your pup and your home. Even if that’s not the route you want to go, it’s still always a good idea to consult with your vet. They’ve seen it all, approach the situation with zero judgment, and can help you find the right solution for your pet. Here are some more ways to calm an anxious dog without medication.

Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter covering pets for Reader's Digest, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Rescue Pop. She's also a regular contributor to NBC, Real Simple, Brides, Business Insider, and other outlets. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, by way of the Indiana countryside, Wendy holds a journalism degree from the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism and another bachelor's degree in Philosophy. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @wendyrgould.