Sunday, September 12, 2010

Do They Make Thundershirts for People Too?

As a matter of fact, they do.  First let me explain what a Thundershirt is, for those who might not have heard about these intriguing dog garments. I first found out about the Thundershirt via a dogblog and talked about my discovery in an old post, here.  They are a wrap-around soft fabric jacket that fastens easily with Velcro.

The idea is that the pressure exerted on the dog's body will soothe them during times of distress, much like a swaddled baby is comforted by the snug fit of a blanket.  Weighted pressure blankets, shirts, quilts are often used with Autistic children and adults as a way of calming them during times of distress.

  I read about such techniques recently in Jodi Picoult's latest best seller, House Rules.  I already had Sadie's Thundershirt by the time I read this book and was fascinated to learn of this pressure application used with these special needs kids and adults.

Veterinarians have been using pressure point therapy for years, especially with large animals such as horses and cows to calm them during exams or when giving them inoculations.

Many people relieve their headaches and even migraines by applying pressure to other areas of the body or by lying with a weighted mask over their eyes or forehead.

But, does the Thundershirt work?  There are many testimonials on and I found even more on Youtube.  But, again, would it work for Sadie?  She is not only frantic during thunderstorms or even just a rainstorm, but her worst times are when there are fireworks going off nearby.

As suggested by the literature that accompanied the Thundershirt, I would put it on Sadie a couple of different times during the day for about 10 minutes when there was no sign of storms or fireworks.  This was to get her used to it and so she would also not associate the Thundershirt with the storms.

Sadie, or "Skynet" as we call her, scanning the skies for evil storms

Pretty soon the summer storms started and we were able to try out Sadie's new shirt.  It was not an instant cure.  The first few times she still drooled, shook, panted and would not leave me alone.  But over time we noticed a decrease in this behavior.  She was still nervous, but the panting and drooling were gone.  A little shaking still was present, but she was able to relax enough to lie down during a storm.  If we left the house for several hours and storms were expected we would put the Thundershirt on her before we left "just in case".

We started noticing that Sadie would actually go stand by the chair where we hung the Thundershirt when she would hear thunder rumbling or the sky would darken with clouds.

But, did it work with the fireworks for Sadie?

No.  At least not the one time we were able to test it during 4th of July.  If she was inside the house during the fireworks she was much like she was during the storms with the Thundershirt on, but if we had to take her outside she reverted to panting, drooling and pacing and could not relax enough to "do her business".  I have had her out during times of thunder - no rain with the shirt on and she would be able to do what dogs do when they must. (Please don't make me have to try to put that a third way).

According to the website the Thundershirt can also be used to calm dogs that exhibit hyper behavior or experience separation anxiety from their owners.

I have taken video, but it just is not as good (although probably would be amusing to some of my family members) as those that can be found on Youtube.  So I will spare you our home videos since Sadie tends to look cowed in every shot I take of her regardless of the circumstances.  But I did manage to capture this picture one day in my office of Sadie during a storm relaxing on the futon with Bumby. 

When the tongue is out, we are feelin' good!

So, to sum it up, for us, Thundershirt has been very much worth the money, it has helped Sadie to a great extent and we think it is worth a try for anyone who has a dog with similar issues.

Susie, however, says "Thunder, schmunder, what's all the fuss about?"

Black cat, out.


Alan said...

There are times when we could all use a thunder shirt. Do they come in XXL?

Orlando Grandma said...

I worder if a lighting storm without thunthers like the one we had tonight affects her. I was driving on I-4 and for half and hour it was a non stop discharge. Glad to hear the shirt has helped. I need a human sizs M if they have them, for a friend of mine.

Mr. Connor said...

Sounds like there is a whole lot more to the Thunder Shirt than I first thought. Guess a business could be set up for people from the sounds of things as WE can all use one ?

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Very interesting. Rudi gets crazy when he sees the suitcase come out or if we have to leave him somewhere unfamiliar. (We try to avoid this by always just having one of us come by the home to take care of him. But times like my mom's funeral where we were all in CA. it was just necessary.)I am sure this stems from his being dumped in the desert by his previous owners.

KarenSue said...

Yes! Some of my school kids use these weighted blankets, I never thought of it as being the same thing.
Lunch? I hope so,