Thundershirts help ease anxiety in foster dogs

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Shelly Birkelo
Monday, January 7, 2013

— When Jolene Schulz began fostering Jaxson, a 1-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, through the pet-rescue group Friends of Noah in November, he was a well-rounded dog with good social skills.

But the once-stray dog suffered from separation anxiety.

"When we'd leave him in his crate when we'd go somewhere, he would drool to the point I thought he went to the bathroom in his kennel," the Milton woman said.

So when Friends of Noah founder Lois Corwin asked Schulz if she'd be interested in using a Thundershirt on the dog, she was willing to give it a try.

The results?

"Unbelievable," Schulz said.

"The first time we came home, the drool was significantly less and not even half as much as it normally had been,'' she said.

A few days later, when Schulz knew she would be gone for several hours, she put the Thundershirt on Jaxson again.

"This time when I came home, there was no drool. It was like a miracle," she said.

Jaxson now wears the Thundershirt whenever Schulz is gone.

"It really reduces his separation anxiety," she said.

Jaxson is among five Friends of Noah foster dogs to receive Thundershirts through the organization.

"We just found out about this grant we applied for over six months ago," Corwin said. "You never know whether you will get anything, but I'm so glad we did."

The grant program's goal is to reduce stress and anxiety in foster dogs, which makes them more adoptable, Corwin said.

"It really helps with their adjustment as they come into a new home and even after they have been in the foster home for a while. All these dogs have to go through huge adjustment periods, and it takes us a while to get them to trust and feel safe again," she said.

A Thundershirt applies gentle pressure on a dog's body and can calm a dog and ease its fear of storms, Corwin said.

"The innovative jacket acts like a swaddling effect—just like with newborns—to make the dog feel comfortable, safe and warm," she said.

"In 80 percent of dogs who wear Thundershirts, the item helps relieve fear of thunder, separation and travel anxiety, hyperactivity, leash pulling and more," she said.

The Thundershirt Co., Durham, N.C., created the Thundershirt four years ago. It partnered with the Petfinder.com Foundation to donate Thundershirts to adoption organizations nationwide that are members of Petfinder.com, which is the largest online database of homeless pets, Corwin said.

The shirts are simple to use, Schulz said.

"Putting it on takes only a matter of seconds and is not difficult," she said.

"It just puts my mind at ease knowing when I'm gone and he's wearing it, he's not having anxiety," Schulz said.

Last updated: 8:05 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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