Friday, July 1, 2016

DIY Thundershirt

Abby is terrified of both thunder and fireworks.  Most storms she just goes in the closet in the bedroom or the one behind my office where the winter coats are kept.  We will put a soft pet bed in there and she'll lay on it the her head peering into the room. But when there are fireworks - she immediately goes into the  bedroom closet and as narrow as it is, folds herself up like an accordion so she can get horizontal in the very back of it.  It just looks painful

Unfortunately, fireworks in the city aren't limited to July 4th.  No, all the locals will be shooting their personal ones off every evening as soon as they are  off work starting a good three days prior.  Last year, we went to the crash pad in Indianapolis which was in a more rural area and a strict "no fireworks" in the condo complex so it was quiet. Now that I no longer commute I had the option this year to go to my best friends (MC from the Book of Barkley with all the rescue cats).  She and her partner Mr. B. have a large country home but I was sadly informed that her Dad passed away today after a long stint in nursing care and she needs her family now, not company.

So Plan B (as in bow wow).
Yes, I should have ordered a Thundershirt.  My Vet says about 80% of dogs have great success with them and they h ave a money back guarantee. But it's too late now to get one, things already starting to pop around the neighborhood.

So DIY Thundershirt.  Acting on the same principals that the gentle pressure on certain points on your pet will calm and sooth, I made one out of an ace bandage (that was about 5 feet long).  You could also use a long scarf on a smaller dog.

Since the bandage wasn't quite big enough to hit all the pressure points, I used supplemented the back section with a long narrow scarf.
Take the section of bandage and wrap the middle of it across the dog's chest.   She's not looking too sure about this, and has already heard some "Pops" which are making her nervous.
Bring the back of the bandage up over the withers, cross and then bring down below the chest. If long enough bring it back up to the spine and tie it off or fasten with Velcro at the base of the spine like this diagram.

Since my bandage roll wasn't long enough to bring it on up again over the her lower back, I just fastened the ends on the belly with the piece of Velcro that came with the bandage and used separate section of scarf to cradle and pressure the back part of the belly, tying it up above the base of her spine.

It should be snug, but not so snug your dog can't easily sit or lay down.  I also added a drop of PURE frankincense essential oil to the bandage on the chest and put a drop, warmed in my hand, rubbed into the fur on the top of her head and around the outside of her ears. Frankincense is pet safe and is VERY calming for dogs.. Lavender would also work but remember, dogs are quite scent sensitive, before you apply it, put a drop on your hand and see if they have a "no thanks" reaction to it and don't force it if they don't like it.  Abby loves the scents. JUST a drop is plenty and check with your vet if you consider any other oils as some can cause liver and kidney toxicity.  Also don't use the cheap synthetic oils that are just a fragrance of frankincense, not the actual essential oil.

Sit!  Stay!
 Sure I can sit Mom - but this floor under the table is SERIOUSLY lacking foodable crumbs.
 Somebody is MUCH happier even with the boomies starting to go off!   BOOM!
 I'm not afraid of no fireworks!
Thanks Mom - but seriously the next time, don't use the animal print scarf - I don't want Frankie Furter to think I'm a cougar!

Next time there is noise - I'll get the real Thundershirt -  but this really worked and was made with things we had on hand.


  1. Hailey is like Abby hates them both. As we live in cottage country, we have fireworks a lot (every night this week actually as it was St. Jean Baptiste day in our province last Friday). She also has learned to cope by hiding in the closet (or as we call it her fortress of solitude) or the downstairs bathroom (aka the bomb shelter). It looks like tonight we will be having thunder and not fireworks, same system applies. The only time she can't settle is if it is really windy.

  2. Oh, your Moms ROCKS gurl! And, Frankly (bol!!!) I likes the animal scarf! Or maybe I've had one too many margaritas...hehehe Ma did buy me a Thundershirt, for my vettie visits, butts it didn't work. I'll have Ma try and find it (and wash it..hehehe), and send it to you for an extra one. I thinks it's either a Large or Extra large, Ma will let you know when she finds it.
    Too bad abouts the no foodable crumbs...always a let down....
    Ruby ♥

  3. Hari OM
    Heard about thundershirts for the very first time at BAR... wish they'd been around when I had Jade dog with me as she had the same issues... but by default I had discovered that if I massaged her during a big stormy, she was much better - probably cuz was hitting all the good spots!!! This bandage idea is pawfect - and Frankicense is the best!!! You certainly look like you are happy with the attention it got you Abby! Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  4. We have a thundershirt and it does nothing for Ciara:( We have tried tshirts, lavender, adaptil, benedryl, etc. The booms started here last night. At least we have a very rainy day and night ahead so maybe none tonight. Ciara is on Valium for the long weekend. Hope your DIY work is a huge success..

    Woos - Ciara and Lightning

  5. We are so glad it worked!! Our angel brothers were terrified of the big noises. Me and Stanley don't get bothered by them (and mom is very glad).

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  6. Poor Abby! We hope the wrap works -- we've heard it can help a lot!
    It gets super crazy-loud here. Well, actually, it already is. and there is debris everywhere that Maggie tries to eat. Mom was hoping she'd grown out of that, but apparently not yet.
    Stay safe!

  7. Very creative! We're glad Abby's feeling better.

  8. Glad to hear it works for her. She is probably young enough to not just have a reaction regardless, as my Sparky-Bones does. (Terror -> Closet -> uncontrollable shaking -> climbing all over me/husband/everything.)

    Some dogs are also sensitive to static electricity, and we found that for my beautiful Roni (like Pepper-roni, now dancing and playing at the Rainbow Bridge, with one ear cocked...), she responded to a Lame' cape. Lame (the real stuff) is made with metallic thread and helps with dogs that are triggered with static electricity. You might get a yard online and put it on the floor in the closet and if Abby still goes there, she might find additional comfort.

    Such a sad thing for them. There is not much you can do if the thundershirt (or Lame) doesn't work, and I don't think I have ever heard of a dog 'getting better' from Storm-Terror. Still, there are some interventions that help. My little shrine for Roni, has her wooden box with her ashes, sitting on her 'Cape of Power!'. I'll light a candle and think of your Abby...

    All good wishes, prayers and thoughts going to you, Brigid and of course Abby!

    Cap'n Jan

  9. thats a super good idea... I will open your post on 14th of july when we have the boom&bang night.


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