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The Thundershirt at Alpine Animal Doctors

Does your dog or cat get anxious during thunderstorms or when visiting the vet or travelling? Most pets do. If yours is one of them you might find the Thundershirt useful. A snug-fitting vest that exerts a gentle, constant pressure on the animal's torso the Thundershirt can dramatically reduce anxiety levels.

The Thundershirt is suitable for both dogs and cats.At Alpine Animal Doctors we’re used to dealing with stressed animals, and all of the consequential bites and scratches our vets and nurses receive. We never blame the animals of course, we know all too well that a visit to the vet can cause anxiety and stress for most pets.

Dogs and cats are creatures of habit. Most of them are not too keen on sudden changes to their ‘schedule.’ Almost anything outside of their familiar daily routine can trigger anxiety or over excitement in some pets. It can be the obvious things like thunder or fireworks, or something as seemingly innocuous as a visit to the vet, a trip in the car or even a walk in the park. For some pets this anxiety can beam a real problem completely changing their personality, often leading to serious behavioural issues.

Keeping your pet calm and relaxed in all situations is clearly good for both the animal and you, not to mention Dr. Bek’s fingers when she’s examining your pet! The question is — how does a caring pet owner reduce this anxiety? There are medications of course but those really should be reserved for occasional use when anxiety levels can be high enough to cause serious problems.

One simple way that could help is putting a ‘ Thundershirt™’ on your dog or cat at those times they’re most likely to experience anxiety. Relatively unknown in Australia the Thundershirt has been very successful in the US, where the manufacturer reports an 80 per cent success rate for both dogs and cats. Our own tests have found it to be pretty effective.

Basically an adjustable, snug-fitting vest made of a lightweight, breathable fabric the Thundershirt applies a constant, gentle pressure to the torso of the dog or cat, which has an immediate calming effect. The principle behind it is pretty simple and well established. No definitive scientific has yet been found as to why such pressure techniques seem to work but anxiety experts believe that pressure releases hormones like endorphins or oxcytocins, which reduce anxiety. Vets use similar pressure techniques to keep large animals such as cattle calm during treatment for example. And every mum and dad knows that a firmly swaddled infant tends to be less fractious and more comfortable.

It’s the same reason a firm hug makes us all feel better, animals included.

The Thundershirt is primarily for reducing anxiety but it also has other uses — travel, fear, inappropriate reactions toward other animals or people, problem barking, problem jumping and more. It’s also an excellent aid to training at-home training or during training classes. If the Thundershirt keeps your dog calm, she’s going to be more focused and learn more quickly.

The Thundershirt is very easy to fit to any dog or cat, and easy to adjust to get the optimum pressure without discomfort for your pet. It’s also safe when worn for extended periods or when the animal is unattended.

If you want to know more about the Thundershirt please drop into the hospital and have a chat to one of our vet nurses, who can demonstrate it for you.