ThunderShirt Review: We Tried ThunderShirts for Dogs, Here’s What Happened

Disclosure: Our recommendations are based on our testing, research and analysis. We may earn a commission on products purchased using links on this page.

If you have a dog with anxiety, you’ve probably been recommended the ThunderShirt once or twice. Since this popular wrap-style vest launched in 2009, it has become a multimillion-dollar business. But do ThunderShirts really work? Our ThunderShirt review explores this popular product to determine whether it can truly calm an anxious pup in stress-inducing scenarios.

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Key Takeaways:

  • We tested the Thundershirt and we found it made our test corgi much quieter and seemed to lessen her anxiety.
  • This claim is generally repeated by most of its users, but doesn’t work for every dog.
  • Some dogs need multiple uses to make it work.
  • Generally we’re comfortable recommending the Thundershirt as it’s inexpensive and drug-free, so it’s a good first thing to try to help your dog in times of anxiety.

What is a Thundershirt?

A Thundershirt, also known as an anxiety wrap or a thunder jacket, is made of soft, breathable fabric that is “swaddled” around your dog with velcro. The feeling of being swaddled is meant to have a similar effect to swaddling a baby and gives the gentle pressure of a warm, comforting hug.

ThunderShirt for Dogs - Dog Anxiety Vest
  • Makes dogs more docile and less anxious - can calm behavior
  • Was effective in our test on a corgi in a new environment
  • Already used by millions of dogs worldwide
  • Helpful for fireworks, Halloween, vet visits, travel, and separation anxiety
Check Price on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

This dog anxiety vest is entirely drug and pheromone free and does not require any training whatsoever. Simply put it on your dog and allow them to feel the comfort of a soothing squeeze!

Here is what they look like on the ground/folded out:

An unfolded Thundershirt

The fine people at Thundershirt also offer the following infomercial:

YouTube video

Sizes

ThunderShirt SizeBreeds (example)Weight Chest.
XX-SmallChihuahua, Pomeranian, Terrier< 8 lbs9″-13″
X-SmallCairn Terrier, Mini Dachshund, Border Terrier8-14 lbs13″-17″
SmallBeagle Dachshund, Pug, Boston Terrier15-25 lbs17″-21″
MediumWhippet, Pinscher, Schnauzer26-40 lbs21-25″
LargeBasset Hound, Bulldog, Small Labrador41-64 lbs25″-30″
Extra LargeLarge Labrador, Boxer, Doberman, German Shepherd65-109 lbs30″- 37″
Extra Extra LargeGreat Dane, Newfoundland, Mastiff110+ lbs37-50″

Dogs of all sizes can use the Thundershirt, with this product coming in sizes XXS (under 8 lbs) to XXL (110 lbs+). If you’re unsure exactly where your dog’s breed stands, ThunderShirt has a helpful size chart that includes popular dog breeds and chest measurements.

Styles

While different styles of an anxiety wrap may seem unnecessary, several styles of the ThunderShirt are available, including the classic, polo, sport, and the ThunderCoat (merely a stylish coat that fits perfectly overtop of your pup’s ThunderShirt).

While these different ThunderShirt styles are designed to work exactly the same way, they all offer slightly different styles, colors, and in the case of the ThunderShirt Sport, a somewhat different material.

Materials

The ThunderShirt Classic and Polo are polyester, rayon, and spandex blend, while the ThunderShirt Sport is made of 100% polyester. All three of these anxiety jackets are made to be lightweight, breathable, and machine washable.

To wash your ThunderShirt, use cold water and wash on a regular cycle using a standard laundry detergent. Hang the ThunderShirt to dry instead of throwing it in the dryer.

Who Can Benefit From a Thundershirt?

Who Can Benefit From a Thundershirt

While the name “Thundershirt” suggests that this pressure wrap is marketed toward dogs who suffer from anxiety due to thunderstorms, that is only one of its suggested uses. Thundershirts are also great for fireworks, vet visits, car rides, air travel, and separation anxiety. Dogs who are fearful, anxious, or overexcited can all benefit from the gentle, constant pressure of a Thundershirt.

How Does the ThunderShirt Help To Alleviate Anxiety?

As mentioned, a ThunderShirt provides gentle, constant pressure, giving your dog a gentle, comforting squeeze. This is the same idea behind weighted blankets for humans or swaddling a young baby.

However, even though ThunderShirt likens the effect of their product to that of swaddling a precious infant babe, it’s debated whether the result is indeed the same. We all know that a swaddle is meant to mimic a parent’s touch, which is why a baby finds it so comforting. Is the ThunderShirt effective because it mimics the effect of a dog being hugged or held by its owner? We can only guess!

YouTube video

How Long Can I Leave the ThunderShirt On My Dog?

A dog wearing an appropriately sized ThunderShirt should be able to wear it for extended periods without feeling any discomfort. This anxiety jacket is made to be worn for hours on end, and its light, breathable fabric makes overheating rarely an issue.

It’s essential to ensure that your dog is not experiencing any irritation points when first leaving them in a ThunderShirt for an extended time. Periodically remove the Thundershirt to check for any irritation of your dog’s skin. Although irritation points are rare, they are a possibility with extended use. When fitting the ThunderShirt on a male dog, ensure that the straps are not covering or pushing against the genitals in any way, as this may also result in irritation.

What Experts Think of the ThunderShirt

While the ThunderShirt is marketed as vet-recommended, what do experts really think of the ThunderShirt and its use to treat canine anxiety? While some remain undecided, several trainers, veterinarians, and animal behavioral specialists believe wholeheartedly in their effectiveness.

Author, animal behaviorist, and professor of animal science, Dr Temple Grandin, believes that an anxiety jacket’s gentle, constant pressure has a calming effect on a dog’s nervous system, resulting in reduced anxiety.

The overall consensus by veterinarians and animal experts is that the ThunderShirt may help in some cases and is unlikely to hurt others. It is unclear whether a pressure wrap helps your dog feel truly calmer or if their response to the stressor has simply been altered.

Does the ThunderShirt Really Work?

Surveys completed by over 2,000 ThunderShirt customers have concluded that the ThunderShirt is effective in reducing signs of anxiety in over 80% of cases. While there is no guarantee that it will help the case of your specific dog, it is safe to say that this product is definitely worth a shot.

The ThunderShirt has worked for multiple types of anxiety and behavioral issues, including reactive canines, dogs with noise phobias, general anxiety, pups who hate car rides, and separation anxiety. The ThunderShirt may not work for your pooch if they are underexercised, understimulated, or suffer from extreme anxiety.

When we, the AC team, tried the ThunderShirt with our own test dog Callie, we found it made her quieter and less stressed in a new environment. It continues to be a tool we use when we travel with her, and we keep it out so we can use it on days when there will be a lot of stimulation in her environment.

Callie the corgi tested the Thundershirt for the Acme Canine team and found it indeed reduced her anxiety.

What Does Reddit Think?

Positive but mixed reviews. Many people report the Thundershirt works great and absolutely helps their dog’s anxiety.

We ended up trying a thunder shirt and it is beyond amazing what it does for him. We have been using it for years now and every time is the same results.

Last night we had some strong storms and he panicked. Heart racing, constant trembling over his entire body, whining, wide-eyed and scared as he cuddled against myself or my husband. We cuddled, petted, and spoke soothingly to him the best we could, and our chow came and curled against him as well. This did absolutely nothing for him. After a few minutes, the thunder shirt was decided. The moment it was grabbed out of the drawer, our anxious dog jumped up and ran to us. Stood still for the wrap and then jumped back on couch to cuddle. Only now he was not trembling at all, not whining, and although clearly anxious and a bit bug eyed, relatively calm. This happens every time.

u/GuidedByCrows – Full Thread Here

However, a few Redditors found it didn’t work for them:

The thunder shirt hasn’t helped my dog to the same degree. We usually put the shirt on in addition to some essential oils on his spine/paws, and a relaxation CD. A dog trainer also recommended giving him a “safe space” which our dog has picked out (usually as close to the corner wall as possible in my closet.) all of this together alleviates his anxiety maybe 25%.

u/EDMCapricorn – Full Thread Here

Generally more people reported positive results, and some said it made no difference.

Would We Recommend the ThunderShirt?

Absolutely! Having had a positive experience with the ThunderShirt ourselves, we are confident that this is a product that works. Compression therapy has benefitted many sizes, breeds, and ages, and the ThunderShirt is an easy and effective way to try this type of therapy on your beloved pooch.

ThunderShirt for Dogs - Dog Anxiety Vest
  • Makes dogs more docile and less anxious - can calm behavior
  • Was effective in our test on a corgi in a new environment
  • Already used by millions of dogs worldwide
  • Helpful for fireworks, Halloween, vet visits, travel, and separation anxiety
Check Price on Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

It’s important to note that while several pet parents have found immediate results after using the ThunderShirt on their pup, others have only noticed a difference after two to three uses. If you find after 45 days that an anxiety wrap is not the best solution for your dog, then ThunderShirt will give you a full refund. A true win-win situation!

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