DIY Thundershirt: How to Make Your Own Canine Anxiety Wrap

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Dog DIY By Meg Marrs 5 min read July 2, 2019 58 Comments

diy thundershirt

Whether your dog has separation anxiety or is deathly afraid of fireworks, seeing your dog frightened and shaking is no fun for any owner.

The miraculous Thundershirt is heralded by many dog owners as the perfect solution. It’s designed to wrap your dog snuggly, providing a sense of security that keeps your canine calm.

If you’re not interested in purchasing the official Thundershirt, you can make your own with a little ingenuity!

Also – make sure to check out our article on 10 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Calm During Fireworks on the 4th of July!

How Does a Dog Anxiety Wrap Work?

Dogs and humans alike are comforted by gentle pressure – in fact, the dog anxiety wrap technique is very similar to the process of swaddling an infant. This comforting technique is called “maintained pressure,” and it’s been used to calm animals and humans alike by hitting specific pressure points around the body.

Oftentimes your dog will instantly feel calmed by the pressure sensation, but some dogs may require multiple wear sessions to get used to the wrap, so it’s recommended that you practice with the wrap a few other times in low-stress situations prior to the stressful event.

How to Make a Thundershirt For Your Dog

There are a few different DIY Thundershirt approaches you can take. In this post, we’ll be detailing the most common ace bandage anxiety wrap method, as well as a method using a t-shirt, and finally a process you can follow to sew your own Thundershirt-style wrap.

Using an Ace Bandage to Create a Wrap

The ace bandage technique is the most common DIY Thundershirt strategy you’ll see around the web. You don’t have to use a bandage though – a scarf works too!

This strategy comes from the TTouch Wrap technique and is used successfully by many owners to calm stressed-out canines.

1. Start by placing the middle of an ace bandage across your dog’s chest. The size of bandage you use will depend on your dog’s size – use narrow bandages for small dogs, and wide for large dogs.

2. Next, bring both ends of the bandage up and cross them over your dog’s shoulders. Cross the bandage of the top of your dog’s shoulder blades, then cross the loose ends of the bandage under your dog’s stomach.

3. Lastly, tie the loose ends over the top of the lower back, away from the spine. You want to aim for snug, but not constricting – the pressure should feel like a nice hug!

diy thundershirt
Illustration from Lili Chin

Also check out this video that demonstrates exactly how to position your dog’s anxiety wrap.

As a safety note, never leave your dog unattended while wearing an anxiety wrap, as they could accidentally become entangled in one.

T-Shirt Technique

You can also create  DIY Thundershirt with a simple t-shirt. Use a snug shirt or spandex tank top – something that will be tight enough to provide light pressure to your dog.

Step 1. Put the t-shirt on your dog backwards, so that your dog’s tail pokes through the neck opening.

Step 2. Next, tie the shirt tails across your dog’s chest. In addition, some owners also sew on ace bandages to the t-shirt so that the bandages can be wrapped around the dog’s various body parts, hitting the appropriate pressure points.

Sew Your Own Anxiety Wrap

In the video below, one owner shows how to create your own Thundershirt vest with an anxiety wrap sewing pattern. This strategy is more advanced, but will create a lasting, durable anxiety wrap you can continue to re-use over the years.

Where to Purchase An Anti-Anxiety Wrap For Your Dog

thundershirt

If these DIY techniques seem like too much trouble for you, or if you want something of higher quality, you can try one of the name brand dog anxiety wraps on the market.

  • Thundershirt. The Thundershirt is a comforting, vest-like wrap with a series of velcro folds and flaps that put gentle pressure on your pet to keep them calm. It’s the most well-known of the bunch and boasts impressive success rates.
  • American Kennel Club Anti-Anxiety Coat. The American Kennel Club Anti-Anxiety Coat is very similar to the Thundershirt, but is made by the AKC. It comes at a lower price than the official Thundershirt, but ratings online are not quite as high.

Other Strategies For Soothing An Anxious Canine

If a Thundershirt or similar wrap isn’t soothing your pooch, you may want to try some other anxiety-relieving strategies, such as:

  • Anti-Anxiety Medicine. Of course, you never want to give your dog meds without cause, but severe anxiety is as good a reason as any (especially if you’ve exhausted other options). See our list of the best anti-anxiety medicine for dogs, including over-the-counter options you can buy online, as well as medications that require a vet’s prescription.
  • Treat-Dispensing Dog Toys. Some dogs will do best if they’re distracted from the scary fireworks or storms happening around them. Treat-dispensing puzzle toys can occupy your pup’s interest and can even begin to desensitize them to frightening stimuli (woah – fireworks mean I get special treats)! Some dogs will be too terrified to even be interested in food, but others who are especially food-motivated may be won over by some particularly tasty treats.
  • Anxiety-Proof Crate. Some crates are especially well-suited to anxious dogs – and in some cases, having a tough crate is essential for keeping your dog safe. Why? Well, nervous dogs will sometimes do anything and everything they can to escape their crate – sometimes that means hurting themselves in the process. If you’re afraid your dog could hurt himself in his panic, getting an escape-proof, anxiety-safe dog crate might be your safest bet.

Have you ever used an anxiety wrap vest or a DIY Thundershirt to calm you pup during a storm, fireworks, or some other anxious event? How did it go? Share your experience in the comments!

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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58 Comments

Nancy

Great article! Thank you.
I just got a calming shirt from Barkertime. They make these calming shirts in really cute prints. It works really well on my puppy. Oh, and their stuff is all made in USA https://barkertime.com/product-category/dog-calming-shirt/

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Dennis

Got a Thundershirt for my shi-tsu, TingTing. I live in an area with a lot of cherry bombs and fireworks all the time. The shirt helped calm her anxiety the very first night I used it. I’m amazed. Last year, I had to tranquilize her. This year, she’s calmly sleeping next to me. She still hates the noise, but no longer races around frantically trying to hide.
Now if I could figure out a way to drop a bomb on the bastards with the illegal fireworks..,

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Maria Morris

Tried the DIY bandage wrap on my Westie and it appeared to work. 🙂

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Meg Marrs

That’s great news Maria!

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Jansje Mason

video stopped and there was no next part, so it was a waste of time to play the video in the first place, can I see how it is made, because I would like to do that.

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Meg Marrs

You should click through to YouTube to watch parts 2 and 3. I just added part 2 to the page so you can access it.

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tyler

Have to say. We have struggled with a very anxious beagle all the time. Not just NYE etc etc. We were on the verge of rehoming him.

We tried the wrap… Instant relaxed dog. Its like magic!

Thank you!

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Meg Marrs

So glad it helped! I know how tough it can be to deal with an anxious dog. Consider hiring a trainer to help you and your pooch understand what’s troubling him (for a long term solution). An anxious dog is an unhappy dog! Best of luck 🙂

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Aimee

Thank you so much for the alternative ideas for the Thunder Shirt! I have one, and it’s mildly tolerated by my Winston- However, the sound of the Velcro is as traumatic to him as the thunderstorms, wind, fireworks…poor guy; I’d be sketched out by those things as well if I’d been abandoned in a backyard! I’m so very lucky to have been able to rescue him!

Anyway…thanks again haha! I really appreciate the ideas! The scarf totally worked!

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Meg Marrs

Glad it helped Aimee!

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Aimee

Seriously. Unreal the result! Winston’s very happy being swaddled with scarves! HA!

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Jen

I have a extremely small Chihuahua that has some severe anxiety. She gets frightened by her own shadow sometimes. sometimes & it seems to be getting worse with age. She whines really loud, pants & shakes so hard and much I’m afraid she’s gonna give herself brain damage. Everything from me getting dressed (she assumes I’m leaving) to a car door shutting over 100′ feet away will have her shivering so bad it could be confused with convulsions. Up until last year on 4th of July, I would lock her up in a closet or bathroom with food, water & blankets (for her safety because she has gotten stuck under my dresser trying to hide). Well last yr I came across my son’s infant carrier, like the ones you wear with your infant in it. It was miraculous at how calm she was in there, never shook and actually rested. Well that was misplaced and she’s gotten worse, if she had her way I’d be holding her 24/7 & that’s impossible. I’m about to try a wrap but with a folded handkerchief. Shes only 5 lbs, no scarf or ace bandage will work. If the handkerchief doesn’t work I’m going to try a sock. Only xx-small dog clothing will fit her but none are

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Judi

For tiny dogs, try going to the fabric store and looking for soft elastic of a width you think appropriate for your dog. Or cut a 2″ wide ace wrap lengthwise in half to get a 1″ wrap.

What does your vet say about your dog’s anxiety? Sometimes the brain chemistry needs some help.

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Paddy

Thanks! you made that look easy.
Can’t wait to get started on a wrap fory Winniefred

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Judi

I’m surprised that you show a picture, a drawing, and a video that are specifically Tellington TTouch without mentioning TTouch. Using ace wraps as shown in the half-wrap picture and video has been a TTouch technique for over 20 years. Susan Sharpe, the developer of the Anxiety Wrap, was a TTouch practitioner and was inspired by that work in designing the Anxiety Wrap. The Thundershirt people also were inspired by and consulted with TTouch people in developing their product.

The TTouch half-wrap may be applied over a T-shirt if one wants a bit more coverage. TTouch practitioners use ace-wraps or other elastic fabrics for wraps to allow for easier motion with a snugger fit than one would use with an inelastic fabric. Soft sewing elastic can work for smaller dogs and other pets where a 2″ wrap is too wide.

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Meg Marrs

Thank you Judi – I found the image and drawing on Pinterest but could not find the original source. I’ll make sure to add credit to Susan Sharpe and TTouch!

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Judi

Good try, but Sarah Hauser is not the creator of the TTouch bodywrap. Credit for that goes to Linda Tellington-Jones, the originator of the Tellington TTouch Method. Please see http://www.ttouch.com for more information. It’s a great method for helping dogs and their people find and keep physical, mental, and emotional balance.

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Meg Marrs

Thank you, I misunderstood.

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Cherie

While it is lovely that you seem to be trying to pass on information about a technique that can be helpful for many animals, there are good and bad ways to do that. It’s a really good idea to ensure that you have accurate information before passing it on. It’s also a good idea to give credit for where the info and technique came from.

Part of the drawing you use is a copyrighted image by well-known animal illustrator Lili Chin. A simple 30-second search on the Internet browser of your choice would turn up this information. The image has been cropped either by you or whoever you appropriated it from to remove both the information about the artist and her copyright, as well as all the information on the original poster about TTouch, and the technique itself. Whether you made the changes or took them from someone else, you are culpable for not doing due diligence in finding out where that image came from before posting it on your site. I see from a cursory search of your site that you have a copyright notice on each page. That should indicate you have some rudimentary knowledge of how copyright works. 1) Give attribution for source material, 2) Don’t remove or alter images created by others in ways that removes their copyright or informational material when sharing to your pages, 3) if you don’t know the source, don’t use the material until you do. 4) always give credit to the original author or artist. Plagarism is theft. You were able to find the image and the video. You could have taken the next step to mention where these things came from. The information is not hidden in any way.

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Meg Marrs

Hi Cherie. Thanks for your response. Of course it is never our goal to purposefully mislead readers or not give credit where it is due. The image you see was found on Pinterest, and – as you noted – since the image was modified by another user, it was impossible to find the original source of the illustration, despite reverse image searching.

Thankfully, you and other attentive readers have helped in revealing the origin of this helpful illustration, which I am of course now sourcing appropriately. Thanks for your help.

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Everyonesarescue

Thanks for the info.

Question: I will admit I am slightly confused. How can an ace wrap or thunder shirt type arrangement do what it needs to when one of the warnings was not to use it when dog is unattended? We need to work with separation anxiety, which by nature means I am not with him at the time. Is it still safe to put him in the ace wrap?

He is also afraid of storms, and I had hoped to be able to have the wrapping pressure calm him when I have to be out on stormy days.

The pressure does help — I found out accidentally during one storm when he and I were sitting in my truck waiting for my husband. The only thing that calmed him was having me hold him around his middle while he stood on my thigh! (He is a 90-100lb Anatolian Shepherd.) #iammydogsthundershirt

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Meg Marrs

That’s a good question. It’s kind of a tricky topic. For sure the first several occasions you use the wrap, you’ll want to be home to monitor your dog in case he freaks out and tangles himself.

I think leaving them home alone with it is not ideal – you just never know what could happen, and it’ll be better for you to be there safety wise. But of course as you say, for separation anxiety, leaving at some point is kind of required.

Check out our guide on separation anxiety crates as well! Good luck.

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Judi

Safety in a TTouch body wrap depends on the dog. A dog who fusses with the wrap can chew it off and then possibly ingest it. Dogs’ digestive systems were not meant to ingest long stretchy things, so that can cause problems. Similarly, eating Thundershirts is not recommended. Wraps and Thundershirts can get caught on things like fence snags or crate doors, so check the dog’s environment from that point of view. Multiple dogs together would mean concerns about playtime and body parts getting caught.

Thundershirts are pretty warm, thus room or pen temperature has to be a factor in safety..

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gotaram

This is so great! Thank you very much! I’m looking for an Thundershirt, accidentally find this article. I will try all of these methods to find the most suitable one for my dog.

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Barbara J Crise

I have a blind diabetic 12 year old Yorkie who even getting him to get in car is terrible, let alone slamming of a door or fireworks going off. I decided to use a diy wrap. I used a very long scarf and wrapped him in it. I almost cried he was like a different dog. He gets in car and goes for a drive with us. Fireworks don’t really bother him very much. I truly think he likes being wrapped up. Thank you for the instructions. Barb

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Meg Marrs

Aww Barb that is such happy news! So glad to hear that!

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Donna Lea Owens

Please more info . … help !

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Vivian Jones

My German shepherd did not have a loud noise problem until we almost got hit by a tornado, breaking one of our windows and lots of fallen tree limbs. She is also my service dog, so I need her calm. Going to try the ace bandage one at the next storm.

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Lorinda Niday

Thank you for these instructions. All 3 of my dogs get scared durinthunderstorms. I’m sure this will help.

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Julia Albert

It’s 2am and I have been awake for a few hours comforting my panting and clearly distressed dog in this thunderstorm. I turned to google and have used some scarves (one wasn’t long enough) as a wrap and he has stopped panting and has laid down on his bed to sleep. We haven’t had another lot of thunder yet but hopefully this works because it has so far! Thanks for the tips.

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Beverly

Extremely helpful. We have been giving our dog Benadryl for their anxiety issues during thunder and lightning rain storms. The medication calms them down but during our Monsoon season this could be an everyday event and I don’t like giving them this drug everyday.
We will give this Thundershirt a try and hope it works better than giving them this drug everyday during our monsoon season.
Thank you

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Meg Marrs

You are welcome. Good luck Beverly – let us know how monsoon season goes this year with the makeshift Thundershirt!

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Irene

Thank you for this informative article and video with the ace bandage. I have a husky/lab cross and she is anxious in the car, but not negative…she just can’t control herself and it stresses me out because I’m driving and she won’t settle down…. I speak in a normal calm voice to her and it doesn’t help. When we arrive at destination, which is always a nice place like the dog park or a friend’s, she takes it up a notch…so I know she’s not finding the car ride entirely negative. Just the car… she was like that since she was old enough to be awake in the car… funnily, she has always slept through thunder storms~ My previous dog was a big sleeper in the car, so my current dog (17 months old), is acting in a way I’m not used to, but I want to help her be calmer and possibly take naps on long rides. I’m hoping it works! Thanks!

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Meg Marrs

Good luck! If your dog is acting nervous and anxious in the car, you might want to consider a dog car harness or safety device so she’s not jumping all over the place. That could be dangerous for both of you!

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Anne

I have used a Thundershirt on my very storm freaked rescue Dachsy for several years now. It is BRILLIANT. Gives instant relief to her. I also used it on my son’s Jack Russell who travels badly, getting distressed and panting. With the Thundershirt on, she curled up on the back seat and slept all the way. I swear by them.

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Meg Marrs

So glad you’ve found a solution that works for Dachsy. I know how amazing it is to finally see your dog chill out after years of anxiety ;(

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Doglove

I have a 5 1/2 year old german shepherd and ever since this golden retriever PUPPY moved in he always barks outside and makes my dog shake, and hide in the hall. She doesn’t really chew things but she made a dent in our BRAND new sink and tries anything to escape. She ran away once :(. Thank god, we found her. The dog is the house behind us and it is sort of uphill so maybe it intimidates her because he is higher up? I don’t have an ace bandage, if I tie a bl;anket around her, will that work? I’m desperate!

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Meg Marrs

I don’t think a blanket would be firm enough. Maybe a scarf? But ace bandage would be best, and you should be able to get them as CVS/Walgreens.

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Doglove

Ok, thanks! I’ll try a scarf and if that doesn’t work, i’ll buy an ace bandage.

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ILuvFurBabies

@Doglove if my dog is scared (he’s blind and deaf so it’s pretty easy for him to get spooked) I wrap him in a blanket I have used before (so it smells like me) and wrap him in it (tightly but not so tight it chokes him) I wrap it by putting it over him like a blanket but I wrap underneath him and the other side over him and repeat until the wrap has gotten tight then meet both the sides together and wrap them snugly together.

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James Patten

I’m going to make home-made thunder blanket. I will cut plastic water bottles in half length wise. Then with large gauge needle put holes along both sides. Then sew bottles along out edges of blanket. Next step sew another same size blanket on top of one with the bottles sewn.

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Joy Bennett

Please look on Amazon for a product called Adaptil. It’s a pheromone spray that duplicates a nursing mother dog. It’s truly amazing! One bottle will last for at least 6 months for my dog.

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Meg Marrs

Thanks for the suggestion!

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Marie K Erickson

I just bought a Thundershirt for one of our dogs who is afraid of thunder and fireworks. Works great. but takes a few minutes to kick in. Has anyone else noticed this?

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Logan

My dog, Bailey, is a pure cocker spaniel and she is a rescue that is about 2 years old. We believe she was abused by a man that tried to force her to hunt but she is terribly gun shy. So with fireworks, she thinks it’s a gunshot, I tried this Thundershirt and she has actually seemed to calm down a lot. Thank you!!! Really comes in handy

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Meg Marrs

Glad you found something that worked for Bailey! That’s great news.

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Sandra Engelhardt

I have used the Thunder sports jacket many time during Thuneer storms on my GSD and it works well. Instead of pacing, hiding & frigthen , she sits calmly by me and has gone thur some of the worse storms including huge hail.

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Meg Marrs

That’s so great to hear Sandra! Hurrah!

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Ella

Great information. But I read through the comments and can’t believe the jerks that were commenting about TTouch. Maybe they should have given you the benefit of the doubt. After all, you are clearly posting this to help people. Nice work and thank you for sharing. Your site came through as one of the top results on my search.

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Meg Marrs

You’re welcome Ella! 🙂

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Amy

We tried the Thundershirt on my MiL’s dog who is a fluffy dog and not only did it not seem to work, but the poor thing got too hot. I found this site and made the TTouch one and she has been soo much better!

Thank you from all of us <3

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Meg Marrs

Glad it helped!

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Moya Smith

Thank you! I’ve done the bandage thunder wrap and my pup has gone from shaking and crying to lying down and dozing off.

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Nadia

Here you can purchase a sewing pattern to make your own thundershirt at home:

https://www.mimiandtara.com/dog-anxiety-vest-patterns/

hope this helps!!

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Francisca Sarmiento

Wonderful. It really helped me a lot. I will definitely share this 🙂

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Kimberly Fowler

My 8 yr old golden retriever is very frightened by thunderstorms .. I have just put her winter coat on her, strapped tightly and it works ! No need to buy anything else if you have a coat already. Same principle I’m sure!

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Susan Brilliant

It’s a miracle! The DIY wrap has given us our Finn back. No more whining, scratching, etc. Thank you!

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Bonnie monnier

Our miniature dachsund got clawed on her side by a coon. Our vet put her in the Thundershirt to keep her calm and to keep her from scratching or licking the wound while it heals. Besides oral meds she has antibiotic ointment applied twice daily. Easy to unwrap and rewrap. This shirt has been wonderful as it accomplishes what it is supposed to do.

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