My Dog Asked To Wear His Thundershirt


I’ll admit I was skeptical of these. None of my previous dogs were sound-sensitive, and I doubted that tight swaddling would have the same effect on a dog that it does on a human. Turns out I’m wrong, as I found out from direct experience.

Xander is my Great Pyrenees/Lab mix. Isn’t he just adorable? I bought him a Thundershirt last year, and had it on him a few times. It seemed to have only limited success from what I saw, but Xander apparently felt different about his anxiety-reducing garment.


He is the least confident dog I’ve ever had. Belgian sheepdogs aren’t known for their shy, retiring natures, and my Lab, well, she’s a Lab; everyone’s her friend and fear is unknown to her. But for such a big dog, Xander is remarkably…timid, especially when it comes to sounds. We no longer host our big 4th of July party – much to our friend’s dismay.

However, I couldn’t hear anything when he woke me up at 4:30 this morning, scrabbling around in the adjoining room. It was early, but not unusual for the dogs to need to go out at this time. So up I got and out they went. The wind was whipping but it wasn’t raining, Xander quickly returned to the door and wanted back in.

Once back inside, his continuing distress was clear; he was pacing, panting and licking his lips. He would sit and lean against me for a time for comfort, but then look off into the distance over my shoulder and growl. I checked, but nope, no ghosts in the house.

Then I saw the flash outside in the darkened sky and it all made sense. He could hear the thunder I couldn’t.

We went into the basement where it would be quieter, and I turned on the TV to help drown out the thunder. Golly ate her breakfast right away, unfazed by the distant storm. Did I mention she’s a Lab? Xander did not, which is not unusual when he’s nervous. What he did next though, took me completely by surprise.

He walked up to his Thundershirt, draped over a nearby chair and nosed it. Then turned at looked directly into my eyes. I didn’t need any psychic animal communication skills to understand what he was asking. I picked it up, held it out and he promptly sat down to let me wrap it around his body. He even sighed with relief.

He may not be the bravest, but he’s certainly one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever had.

Within a minute of getting wrapped up in his Thundershirt, Xander had stopped pacing and panting. He sat and leaned against me, then sank down and nudged his way under my feet with another relieved sigh.


He was snoring a few minutes later. Thank you Thundershirt!

Is your dog sound sensitive? Does your friend whine, cower, or try to escape from loud sounds like thunder,  heavy machinery, or fireworks? It’s important to know the behaviors that signal your dog is in distress – Xander paces, whines, pants, and licks his lips, but other dogs may dig, run, hide or bark.

If you see your dog reacting stressfully to loud sounds, what should you do?

The last thing you want to do is try to reassure him or her. Petting, saying things like “It’s okay” or “You’re a good dog” can actually reinforce your dog’s stress reaction, even amplify it. Pet parents sometimes find it difficult to understand this because the behaviors we humans find comforting – hugging, petting  – often do not translate as soothing or calming to our dogs. Try to avoid these if your dog is acting stressed.

Instead focus on projecting calm and confidence. When you do speak, do it in low, gentle tones. Avoid using the voice or cue words that mean “Good dog!” as these are easily interpreted as meaning his stress reaction is appropriate.

If your dog comes and leans against you, it’s okay to put a reassuring hand on a shoulder or hip, but don’t pet or scratch. Let it rest with some heaviness – let your dog feel the weight of your hand and arm – but don’t press her against you.

Try turning up the TV or radio and distracting your dog with a toy. However if your pet is so stressed that they won’t engage with you, you may want to look into a Thundershirt for your pet. You can find their website here. It has excellent information and links to the science behind the Thundershirt’s effectiveness.

Helping your dog to reduce his anxiety will build his confidence in himself and you!

Five Alternative Therapies For Your Pet That Give Real Results


You love your lil’ fuzzball. You do everything together, regular vet visits, good nutrition and plenty of exercise are all part of your furkid’s routine. However, even with the very best care, our pets can fall victim to accidents, or illness. This is devastating to go through. Your vet should be the first one you consult and have treat your pet if he starts to act sick or gets hurt. Don’t wait, don’t hesitate – get your pet to the doctor!

But what if there was something more you could do to help your BFF get better? Would you consider it? What if it was considered ‘silly’ or ‘quackery’ by some, but others had experienced genuine, positive results?

Merriam-Webster online defines alternative therapies as:  “any of various systems of healing or treating disease (as homeopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy, Ayurveda, or faithhealing) that are not included in the traditional curricula taught in medical schools of the United States and Britain.”

Alternative therapies are sometimes frowned upon by mainstream medicine – human and animal. I think it’s funny that there are still doctors today who will roll their eyes if they hear the words chiropractor or acupuncture, despite the multitude of studies showing real benefit, and the thousands of patients whose health and quality of life have been dramatically improved by these modalities.

I have worked in hospitals, both human and animal. I can tell you this, absolutely and wholeheartedly – traditional Western medicine is not the only game in town.

It is very, very good, it can save your pet’s life, extend your pet’s life. It may very well be all your pet needs. However, if you are searching for “something more” because traditional veterinary medicine is not giving you complete satisfaction, then maybe it’s time to look at alternative therapies.

Some alternative therapies that are used to help our animal companions include:

  • Acupuncture – placing needles in the skin at defined anatomic points to achieve the desired results.
  • Acupressure – operates on the same principles as acupuncture but without the needles.
  • Herbal and dietary supplementation – using plants and food to treat disease or injury.
  • Massage – the manipulation of the skin and muscles.
  • Chiropractic – the manipulation of the spinal vertebrae to alleviate pressure on spinal and cranial nerves.

Acupuncture/pressure has thousands of years of Chinese medicine standing behind it, validating it’s effectiveness. It is commonly used to treat pain and nausea, but it can also help digestion and gut issues, anxiety (pets can feel anxious!), even diabetes and stroke recovery. But this is only a sampling – a comprehensive list of all the conditions that can be treated is far too long for this post. Acupuncture and acupressure can complement almost any treatment regimen to speed your pet to wellness, but they can also be used solely on their own to achieve the desired result.

Herbal treatments, supplements and specialized diets are likewise large and complex topics, with a multitude of branchings into specialities. It can be as simple as giving your older dog some glucosamine to help ease aching joints to a strict regimen prescribed by a holistic vet to defeat cancer.

Massage feels so good! The therapeutic benefits of massage are undeniable. It improves muscle function, reduces pain, helps with joint stability, aids in rehabilitation from injury…the list goes on and on. Like acupuncture/pressure, massage complements almost any treatment.

Chiropractic adjustments enable the nerves to operate at maximum efficiency by reducing or eliminating pressure put on them by misalignments of the spine. This alone can eliminate pain and increase mobility, but a fully functioning nervous system allows the body to clearly communicate with its various parts. This clear communication facilitates the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

You may find that your vet works in conjunction with alternative therapy practitioners. These practices are becoming more accepted as more people turn to them and discover their benefits. You can even find holistic veterinarians who practice one or more therapies in addition to traditional medicine.

Search for holistic vets through the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. You can refine your search on this site to specific modalities such as acupuncture, herbal, etc.

The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage has a member listing of certified practitioners.

Find an animal chiropractor at the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

As always, you should do your own research to determine if alternative therapies are right for your pet.

Alternative therapies can help keep your best friend healthy and happy. They are worth investigating to give your pet the best life possible.

All better now! Happy Dog!
All better now! Happy Dog!