Have you tried a ThunderShirt on your dog but found that it didn’t improve his anxiety as much as you’d hoped?
Or perhaps you’re looking for a lower cost alternative to ThunderShirts.
ThunderShirt is the most well known brand of anxiety vests or jackets for dogs. There are other options out there though.
You’ll come across products that look very similar to ThunderShirts. They are basically mimics of the bigger brand, without the name tag. But that doesn’t mean you get the same quality, and same comfortable fit on your dog as a genuine ThunderShirt.
Here’s what to look for when searching for an anxiety vest that your dog can wear during storms, moving house, fireworks, vet visits, or any other situations where your dog’s anxiety increases and causes behavioral issues.
ThunderShirts are made from a soft and breathable fabric. The ThunderShirt Sport is made of 100% polyester with airflow technology. The Classic and Polo are made of polyester, spandex and rayon blend.
You will often see different materials used in some of the lower cost vests. This is what I’ve come across:
Viscose fiber/Rayon blend
Made from wood pulp and other agricultural products and used as a cheaper alternative to silk. Also called rayon (Some ThunderShirts use rayon as 35% of material), viscose rayon is a breathable material. But these fibers can be quite delicate and break down with repeated washing. This means a vest containing viscose or rayon as the primary material may not last as long as those made of other more durable material.
Nylon is not a breathable material. It’s designed to be the opposite to breahtable because it’s meant to repel water and this results in sweat and heat being trapped under the material.
While a dog anxiety vest that contains a small percentage of nylon probably won’t cause issues, if nylon is being used as one of the primary materials then you are very likely to come across heat issues and a vest that will not be comfortable for most dogs.
Fit and Sizing
Some of the cheapest vest options are known to have fitting problems. They are not always uniformly made to a high standard.
This can result in ordering a particular size that should suit your dog according to the provided size chart (and they should always give you a sizing chart), but the vest just not fitting well.
The whole premise of an anxiety vest is that it needs to be a snug fit, but not overly tight and certainly not loose. Otherwise any old dog shirt could be used, and we know that doesn’t work for reducing anxiety.
In fact the most common complaint about some of the cheapest anxiety vests is the poor fit, sometimes several sizes above or below what was stated on the chart.
Most ThunderShirt alternatives have taken a big leaf out of the ThunderShirt book and based their designs on the famous brand using velcro to secure and adjust the vest.
Genuine ThunderShirts are reasonably priced, so cost is not likely going to be a reason you’re looking at alternative options. The materials used, as outlined above, should be looked at when considering the cost as there are no shortage of products using less durable material that might not stand up well to long term use when the vest is being regularly machine washed.
Alternatives to Dog Anxiety Vests
If you want a complete alternative option to any type of dog anxiety vest besides specific behavorial training (or alongside it), there are some other methods which people do find success with. These include:
- Natural pheromones
- Dog calming chews
- Calming dog supplements
One of the big reasons ThunderShirts and similar products are so popular is because they’re easy to use and non-invasive.
But the above three alternative options to promote calming and stress relief in dogs may be a better option for you and your dog, if you’ve found that anxiety vests either aren’t working as expected or your dog doesn’t tolerate wearing it.