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How the Thundershirt (for dogs with storm anxiety) Became Bowie's Best Friend
How it Started
Bowie is a lab mix that I adopted form the Humane Society after the vicious Hurricane Charley hit Southwest Florida on August 13th of 2004. Hundreds of animals were left wondering the streets after the storm and Bowie and brothers and sisters were among them. Aside from being riddled with health problems (stomach infections, mange, ear infections) it was clear after Bowie's first week home that thunderstorms were going to be a traumatizing experience each and every time. Who could blame him?!
"Please...just one tot!"
Allergies...Oh, the Allergies...
After all of his most severe health issues were taken care of, more problems started to emerge - problems that would have to be treated over his entire lifetime.
Allergies. And when I say allergies, I mean ALL allergies. Fleas, grass, certain shampoos, seasonal allergies, and to top it all off food allergies.
Most of this can be treated through medications and a change in diet, neither of which this now 9 year old boy is thrilled about. (He's extremely displeased that he can no longer eat tater tots...)
Red Paws on a Black Dog
For as long as I can remember, Bowie has always licked his paws. It always seemed to be when he was anxious or bored. Aside from making his owner crazy, the licking didn't seem to have any negative effects on his four little feet.
Late last year, Bowie and I moved across the state of Florida. That very first day of the move - the chewing started. Not only was he constantly licking his feet, the carpet and any furniture he was laying on, he was now gnawing on his pads and fingernails to the point of bleeding.
I tried everything from wiping his feet after walks, giving multiple baths, and even medication that seems to help the rest of his seasonal allergies. The only explanation was that the problem was mental and that he was OCD about the paw chewing.
Enter: The Thundershirt
Thundershirt = Magicshirt
Before skipping to any anti-anxiety medications I was told by a friend to try something else. Something much more simple that would treat several problems at once...
I had seen the commercials and heard all about them for years, but Bowie's fear during thunderstorms had decreased over the past few years so I had never purchased one. My friend told me that their two Doberman's hated riding in the car. They would tear the seats, scratch at windows and howl until they were released from what they saw as their temporary mobile prison. That's when the owners decided to try the Thundershirt since they heard it helped with general dog anxiety. A few minutes before traveling, they would strap their pets into their cloth/velcro attire and watch as they slowly became relaxed. In the car the calm continued as they sat still in the back seats, only whimpering quietly instead of the usual barking.
After another night filled with Bowie's loud chewing and insistent licking waking me every fifteen minutes along with his pitiful whimpering and crying while he destroyed his own feet - I figured it was worth a try before skipping to medication.
As Seen on TV
Zoloft in the Form of a Shirt
Though a bit confused why I was strapping him into a straight-jacket, (and feeling a bit self-conscious at the snug fit) Bowie seemed to be comfortable in only a few minutes.
Each time I notice him start to lick I quickly wrap him up and within minutes he seems to be back to his normal self, tossing his many toys around the room and laying contently by the porch in the bright sunshine.
It's AMAZING the difference just a simple t-shirt for dogs can make.
(And cats, though I cannot imagine trying to wrap one of these around a cat! If you have had success in doing so, KUDOS!)
Simple and Effective Solution
- Thundershirt - a tool to help calm dog anxiety and phobias - Canine Thundershirt Review
I used the Thundershirt on my dog Sophie, who has a moderate loud noise phobia. This product is based in part on the work by Temple Grandin, noted author, Doctor of Animal Science, and professor at Colorado State University. The thought is that gentl
Everyone Sleeping More Peacefully
After using the Thundershirt for a few months, Bowie is generally more calm and has a new excitement and energy to his daily routines. Though I do not keep his wearable security blanket on him all night, he seems to be sleeping more soundly, only licking a bit at night. This of course makes for a more restful night for everyone else in the household.
As I write this, he sleeps soundly next to me, wearing his Thundershirt (or "Thunderbuddy" as my boyfriend likes to call it).