Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What, on Earth, is a Thundershirt???

My human partner saw a Facebook Page advertisement for something called a Thundershirt, that is supposed to ease a thunderstorm-phobic dog's anxiety during a thunderstorm or fireworks. As you know, my human partner is a veterinarian, so she naturally wondered whether was any scientific basis for their claims. Unfortunately, unless she became a "fan" of the Thundershirt Facebook page, she could not ask questions there. So she looked up Thundershirt in Google, and discovered their web site: http://www.thundershirt.com/ http://www.thundershirt.com/IBS/SimpleCat/InfoPage/asp/Comp_ID/25315.html

Their web site states that it "works" for the following reasons:

"Thundershirt (patent pending) does the following for most dogs suffering from noise anxiety:

The physical sensation of wearing Thundershirt distracts the dog from focusing on her fears, and

Being wrapped in a Thundershirt gives the dog a feeling of safety and comfort.
Soon after putting on her Thundershirt, your dog will likely settle down and relax. Many dogs will lie down and weather the storms with little to no further symptoms of noise anxiety.
From a more scientific perspective, according to neurobiologists, many types of traumas can cause nerve damage, leading to dogs having exaggerated responses to stimuli such as loud noises. Applying constantly maintained pressure with Thundershirt provides an unchanging, quieting stimulus that allows the dog to relax (in other words, #1 above!)."

My human partner is, understandably, VERY skeptical about the science behind this device, and DISAGREES with physical trauma to nerves being a cause of noise phobias. Because there is no scientific basis for their claims that trauma, leading to nerve damage, leading to exaggerated responses to noise stimuli; my partner also finds it hard to believe any other claims they have made about their product. It might work or it might not work, but if it does, it is probably not because of the reasons they have stated. She will keep an open mind, however---If there start to be UNBIASED reports about its effectiveness AND safety, perhaps she will give it a different review.


Phil said...

I'm the founder of the Thundershirt Company, and I can assure you of two things:

1. Thundershirt is very effective. Well over 80% of dogs suffering from noise anxiety show significantly reduced or eliminated symptoms when wearing a Thundershirt.

2. It's totally safe. Thundershirt is made of soft, breathable, stretchable fabric. It's very easy to put on and create a comfortably snug fit. A Thundershirt is safer than a typical dog collar! We have never received a customer complaint about a dog becoming entangled or snagged on her Thundershirt.

Why does Thundershirt work? Thundershirt is a pressure wrap. To date, there have been no SCIENTIFIC studies into WHY a pressure wrap is effective in eliminating or reducing canine noise anxiety. There are hypotheses, but they are very difficult to test; we plan to conduct some scientifically rigorous testing in the next year.

BUT...The effectiveness of pressure wraps is very well tested. Trainers have used them for years with excellent results. Thundershirt is just the first well designed, inexpensive commercial pressure wrap to be offered. We guarantee its effectiveness...It will work for the vast majority of all dogs that suffer from noise anxiety. But if a dog owner is not satisfied for any reason, they can return it for a full refund.

I'm confident that your Human Partner sees many dogs at her veterinary practice that suffer from noise anxiety. Encourage her to try a Thundershirt...She'll be very pleasantly surprised!

LucyS said...

It is an intriguing concept. She certainly does see lots of dogs with noise phobias. In fact, my predecessor had severe thunderstorm and fireworks anxiety. Sadly, he is no longer around to try it out. However, we are certainly open-minded, and it certainly seems safe. It would be great if you were able to get some unbiased feedback. If you do, and it seems to be a great product, we would be delighted to tell others.

LucyS said...

Here is some information related to the use of wraps for anxiety, plus a discussion of thunderstorm phobias in dogs.





(More information will follow. It's getting late. Time for bed.)

LucyS said...

I would like to update my fans on some experience with the Thundershirt since I made my first post. Phil Blizzard (who founded the Thundershirt Company) generously sent my human partner two complimentary Thundershirts to try out on some dogs who were in need of some calming during thunderstorms. She personally chose two dogs who were her patients (Don't forget that she is a vet.). One was an elderly greyhound who had been terrified of thunderstorms for years. The other was a little Shih Tzu who was also thunderstorm-phobic. My person asked both owners to report back about their Thundershirts after having the opportunity to test them out during the storms. A couple of months later, both owners reported that their dogs were significantly calmer during thunderstorms. They both indicated that the Thundershirt made the dog calm enough not to need tranquilizers, which they had both needed previously.

Adele said...

Thundershirt's gentle, constant pressure can bring calm and focus back to your dog. A terrific solution for many types of anxiety including thunder, fireworks, separation, travel, and crate anxieties.

My Favorite Facebook Page! I am SUCH a Fan (I'm also their mascot!)


I try not to discriminate against a species that is "less fortunate" than mine.