Keeping dogs calm during fireworks: Does the Thundershirt really work?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Fourth of July holiday can be a very dangerous time for pets because of the loud noises produced by fireworks.

Julie M. Hendershot, D.V.M. with the Fairway Animal Hospital said, "Dogs might try to hide or they might pant, shake or run away…that's a big one. "

She added, "They just bolt and they get hit by cars or get lost or they can scuff up their pads because they are running so fast on the hot concrete. "

Hendershot said people whose pets have anxiety issues may want to consider buying a fairly new product called a Thundershirt , something she says usually works.

"Some dogs don't really respond to them but most dogs think that they're great," said Hendershot.

"It feels like a big hug so it just calms them down and it's not just for thunder. "

"You can use them for 4th of July fright or you can also use them in just anxious dogs like when they come to the vet or if people come over," said Hendershot.

"He's calm 99 percent of the time, as soon as thunder starts he goes nuts!" dog owner Austin Keeney told KJRH news reporter Deanna Silk .

Keeney's four-legged friend, Rowdy, is the perfect volunteer to try out the Thundershirt that claims to be "the best solution for dog anxiety."

"Essentially if the storm starts at 3 a.m., we're awake at 3 a.m.," said Keeney when describing how Rowdy acts during storms.  

Melissa Lancaster's dog, Joker, is also terrified of thunderstorms.

"He jumps on our bed and lays on my head on the pillow, tries to wake me up because he wants us to hold him," said Lancaster. 

"He comes to the door and starts scratching and shaking and it's very visible that he's upset," said Leslie McKinney, when describing her dog, Moses.

When trying the Thundershirt, Keeney said he made the mistake of waiting until after the storm arrived to put the shirt on Rowdy; therefore, it didn't seem to make much of a difference in his demeanor. 

Keeney said Rowdy still woke him up in the middle of the night by jumping on the bed and panting.  

"I think we need to put it on him before storms get here in advance, half hour in advance to get him acclimated," he said. 

McKinney's dog, Moses, had a much better experience. During a storm, she said Moses usually shakes and hides under a table, but once she put on the Thundershirt, Moses became much calmer and actually fell asleep.

"I would definitely recommend it. I think this summer when we have fireworks at the park, I think it will be a big help for (Moses). Those scare him really bad," said McKinney.  

KJRH's third volunteer, Joker, paces a lot during storms. His owner said with the Thundershirt on his pacing nearly stopped.

"He kind of would just sit in one spot, he wouldn't lay down at first but he would stand in one spot not pacing as much," said Lancaster.  

Besides the Thundershirt, Hendershot offered several other important tips for pet owners concerned about their dogs or cats during fireworks.

Hendershot said, "Keep your dogs inside, let them have a safe place to hide under a bed or in a crate with a towel over it or in an inner room with a basement is best where they can't hear it. "

"Maybe even play some music so they don't hear the fireworks and then talk to them in a confident voice. "

"A lot of times we try to talk to them and say, ‘Oh, its ok' but they just feed off of that and know there really is something to be scared of…but if you talk to them in a confident voice like there's really nothing wrong then that will help a lot."

The Thundershirt retails for around $40 and can be bought online at .

It is also available at many Kansas City area pet stores, including Petsmart and the Brookside Barkery & Bath.

Just call ahead because to ensure the shirts are in stock.

Print this article Back to Top