Jack Russell puppy wearing a thunder shirt

The Best Thunder Jackets For Dogs Reviewed

Our #1 Pick

Thundershirt Classic

The Best Value for Money

Thundershirt Classic

  • Effective
  • Features the Thunderpatch for an additional calming effect
  • Suitable for extra-large breeds
  • Affordable
  • Available in 7 sizes for a perfect fit

For some dogs, the world is a really scary place. As pet parents, we can’t do much to help them deal with anxieties. But one thing we can do is get them a thunder jacket that helps them stay calm and composed during stressful situations.

The science behind these products is simple, but picking the right one can be difficult since the market is swamped with tons of models that look alike. Well, this guide can help you with that. In the article, we’ll show you what to look for in a dog thunder jacket and review the best available options.


How Do Thunder Jackets Work

Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety from unpleasant situations. Loud unknown sounds and vet appointments are just a few things most dogs don’t feel good about. But some dogs can get extremely stressed and uneasy about these things.

The principle on which a thunder jacket works is somewhat similar to weighted blankets for humans. The vest is meant to apply gentle pressure to the dog's body, which, at least in theory, should feel like a hug (1).

An interesting study from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the North Carolina State University has shown that wearing a telemetry jacket for research purposes lowers the dog’s heart rate and calms anxious behaviour. Telemetry jackets are very similar to thunder jackets, so while these findings might be problematic for scientists, they are great news for anxious dogs.

Of course, there’s plenty of research to be done on the subject to confirm the efficacy of a thunder jacket. However, there is a long list of pet parents giving the thumbs up, so although anecdotal, it does look promising.

The problem with testing thunder jackets is that we can’t get proper input from those who are wearing them.

“It's hard to say to a pet, 'Are you calmer?' Neither anxiety shirts nor pheromones are a "golden pill that solves all problems." - Amy Learn, VMD, Wired (2)

The results are subjective, but the lack of obvious stress signs does indicate wearing the jacket was fruitful in many cases.

One thing to keep in mind. Depending on the cause of your dog’s anxiety, the thunder jacket might not be enough to overcome the problem. Some dogs experience such severe cases that they might also need medication. The thunder jacket is not magical, but it can surely help.


What To Look For In A Thunder Jacket For Dogs

The majority of thunder jackets are designed in a pretty similar way. But it’s the little things that make the difference. Here’s what you should pay attention to when shopping for the perfect product.

Material

When it comes to material, the most common options are polyester, cotton and nylon. Each of them excels in something. Polyester is light and flexible, cotton is soft and extremely breathable, while nylon is unbeatably durable. Of course, there are many products made of material blends, so you can get a bit of everything.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing the material is the ease of cleaning. Nylon and polyester are easier to clean than cotton. Many models are machine-washable, so it saves you the hassle of doing it manually.

Fit

To work, the dog anxiety jacket needs to fit snugly. A jacket that’s too tight could restrict the dog’s movement and slow circulation. On the other hand, a loose jacket won’t do anything in terms of lowering anxiety. Measure the dog to make sure you buy the right size. In case your pooch is between numbers, it’s always better to go for a size smaller. Since thunder jackets use velcro tapes, you can additionally ensure it fits your dog like a glove.

Closure Method

Nowadays, the majority of anxiety jackets feature velcro tapes for fastening. The reason lies in the fact that velcro allows very precise adjustments. Buttons don’t allow you to be as accurate when assuring the right fit. But compared to velcro, buttons have a much stronger hold. What’s more, they don’t grab onto hair, so they can be a much better option for long-haired dogs.

Other Features

Most thunders are fairly simple and similar to each other, but some do come with features that can make your job a bit easier. Some brands, for instance, add patches to the anxiety jackets that allow you to apply pheromones or essential oils to further calm your dogs. Others can feature a D-ring so that you don’t need to put a collar or a harness over them. If your dog is wearing an anxiety jacket outdoors, reflective lines can help with night visibility as well.


Best Anxiety Jackets In 2022 - Our Top 6 Picks

Now that you know what to look for in a dog thunder jacket, let’s see what the best models on the market are.

#1: Best Overall: Thundershirt Classic

Thundershirt Classic
  • Effective
  • Features the Thunderpatch for an additional calming effect
  • Suitable for extra-large breeds
  • Affordable
  • Available in 7 sizes for a perfect fit

Thundershirt is one of, if not the most popular anxiety vest out there, and that’s not without reason. This exact model has been clinically tested and shown to help lower dogs’ heart rate and make them calmer overall.

At the first sight, the Thundershirt has a classic anxiety jacket design. But what makes it stand out is the large back strap. What it does is it keeps the torso flap from loosening and assures the jacket is constantly applying pressure on your dog’s body.

One feature we specifically like about this model is the so-called Thunderpatch. This patch is where you can apply pheromone or essential oils to further help your pooch relax in stressful situations.

This anxiety jacket is made of polyester, spandex and rayon blend. This material is lightweight and breathable, so your dog can wear it no matter what season of the year it is. When it comes to cleaning, superficial dirt can be wiped off with a wet cloth. In case of more stubborn stains, you can throw the vest in a washing machine on a cold cycle, and it will come out as new.

Unlike most anxiety jackets, the Thundershirt comes in seven sizes. This means that no matter if your dog is a Chihuahua or a Great Dane, you can find a proper fit for your pooch. Of course, every thunder jacket has a bit of room for adjustments, so you can make it perfectly snug.

Pros

Cons

  • Effective
  • For some dogs, the vest can fit awkward around the belly
  • Features the Thunderpatch for an additional calming effect
  • Suitable for extra-large breeds
Cell
  • Affordable
Cell
  • Available in 7 sizes for a perfect fit
Cell

American Kennel Club Anti Anxiety and Stress Relief Calming Coat
  • Five size options
  • Good torso coverage
  • Long straps for extra adjustability
  • Comes in different colours

The anxiety vest by American Kennel Club has a rather similar design to our top pick, so it deserves the second spot. It gives full torso coverage, and it basically gives your dog a big, calming hug.

This anxiety jacket comes in five sizes, ranging from XS to XL. This means it’s suitable for most dog breeds. Unfortunately, the XL is not large enough for really big pooches like St. Bernard or Newfoundland, for instance. Instead, it’s designed with Labs and Retrievers in mind.

The American Kennel Club Anti Anxiety and Stress Relief Calming Coat being tested by our independent expert team.

American Kennel Club Anti Anxiety and Stress Relief Calming Coat being tested by our review team.

Even though it’s just an anxiety jacket, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fashion statement as well. The AKC thought the same, so this product comes in three colour options: blue, grey and baby pink.

This anxiety jacket is made from a mix of soft cotton and spandex, so you can rest assured your canine companion will be comfortable wearing it. But don’t worry, the fabric doesn’t collect hair, meaning the jacket won’t turn into a fur coat during shedding seasons. And once it gets dirty, you can just wash it in the washing machine along with all your clothes.

Verified Review - 23/03/2022
Great product
"Helped calm my daughter's anxiety-ridden dog while we were babysitting. And the dog loved it."

Pros

Cons

  • Five size options
  • A bit expensive
  • Good torso coverage
  • Long straps for extra adjustability
Cell
  • Comes in different colours
Cell

#3: Best For Long-Haired Dogs: ThunderShirt Sport Dog Anxiety Jacket

ThunderShirt Sport Dog Anxiety Jacket
  • Comes in seven sizes
  • Seam holes for additional airflow
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Easy to clean

Long-haired pooches can have quite a hard time staying cool during the summer months. Wearing an anxiety jacket in hot weather doesn’t help either. That’s why the Thundershirt released the Sport version of the best-selling anxiety jacket.

Appearance-wise, there’s not a lot of difference between the two models. Just like the original, the Sport version also features the large third flap that assures the vest applies constant pressure on your pooch.

The ThunderShirt Sport Dog Anxiety Jacket being tested by our independent expert team.

ThunderShirt Sport Dog Anxiety Jacket being tested by our review team.

The main difference between the two versions lies in the material. The Sport model is made of 100% polyester. Because polyester fibres are extremely strong, less fabric can be used. The Sport is designed to be very thin, lightweight and breathable. It also stays cool in warm weather, so it helps your pooch deal with heat.

This anxiety jacket comes in two bright colours: platinum and pink. But because polyester resists most stains, you don’t have to worry much about the jacket getting dirty easily. And even when it does, cleaning is not an issue. A wet cloth can wipe away most stains, while a washing machine can deal with stubborn ones.

Verified Review - 21/03/2022
Seems to help
"Seems to help so far. My 16-year-old dog started to get a little bit of anxiety when she thinks she was alone. Usually, she barks in a couple minutes when I go upstairs and leave her down but she was quiet and seemed happy."

Pros

Cons

  • Comes in seven sizes
  • Pretty expensive
  • Seam holes for additional airflow
  • Money-back guarantee
Cell
  • Easy to clean
Cell

#4: Best For Outdoors: Coppthinktu Dog Anxiety Jacket

Coppthinktu Dog Anxiety Jacket
  • Five size options
  • Reflective strips for night visibility
  • 30-day refund or replacement
  • Moisture-wicking material

When it comes to anxiety jackets, even the simplest designs prove to do the job extremely well. A good product doesn’t need tons of bells and whistles, and this anxiety jacket by Coppthinktu is a perfect example of that.

This anxiety jacket is made of cotton and nylon blend, which means it has the best of both worlds. It’s lightweight and breathable like cotton, but also abrasion-resistant and moisture-wicking like nylon. Because of that, your pooch can wear this jacket outside even on a warm day. And because it features a reflective line on the back, your dog is easily spotted at night.

The Coppthinktu Dog Anxiety Jacket being tested by our independent expert team.

Coppthinktu Dog Anxiety Jacket being tested by our review team.

With five sizes available, this model is suitable for most breeds out there. But as is often the case, these sizes exclude the biggest pooches out there, like Bullmastiff or Cane Corso. If you’re unsure about your dog’s size, the product’s sizing chart shows you the measurements for the neck, chest and back, so you can’t go wrong. And even if you somehow do get the wrong size, the brand offers a 30-day refund or replacement.

Verified Review - 26/09/2021
Anti stress vest for dogs.
"I really liked it because the anti-stress vest helped my dog. It was a little tight on her since she is M/L and I thought it was L but I put it on and it did help. She is not so nervous anymore. I will keep looking for items for my puppies that I can't find anywhere else."

Pros

Cons

  • Five size options
  • Not suitable for very large dogs
  • Reflective strips for night visibility
  • 30-day refund or replacement
Cell
  • Moisture-wicking material
Cell

#5: Best For Small Dogs: Zendog Dog Shirt

Zendog Dog Shirt
  • Comes in six sizes
  • Four-way stretch fabric
  • Stain-resistant
  • Acts as a cooling garment when wet

As already mentioned as naseum, a thunder jacket must fit snuggly to work. But if you own a very small dog, finding the right size can be tough. Most models on the market are designed to fit dogs heavier than 6 kilograms, forgetting about toy-sized pooches like Pomeranian or Papillon. But don’t worry, Zendog has a product that’s small enough for those dogs.

This thunder jacket comes in six sizes, ranging from XS to XXL. In other words, there’s a suitable size for any dog, no matter the breed. And to make it fit like a glove, you can further adjust the jacket with velcro tabs around the chest.

The Zendog Dog Shirt being tested by our independent expert team.

Zendog Dog Shirt being tested by our review team.

Since it’s made of polyester, this thunder jacket is rather lightweight and stretchy. It also can take quite a bit of wear and tear. And once it gets wet, the jacket can work as a cooling garment. This can be quite helpful during hot summer months. The material doesn’t usually hold onto stains. But if it does end up getting dirty, it can be washed on a cold cycle.

Verified Review - 28/02/2019
Check your sizing.v American made
"I had to send it back because it was too big and it didn't help. Nothing seems to help with my little Morkie. I should have looked at sizing. It is North American sizing. The company was very accommodating on return."

Pros

Cons

  • Comes in six sizes
  • No adjustments around the neck
  • Four-way stretch fabric
  • Stain-resistant
Cell
  • Acts as a cooling garment when wet
Cell

Shed Defender Original Dog Onesie-Seen On Shark Tank
  • Nine sizes to choose from
  • Features a zipper for potty breaks
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Stretchy and breathable

What makes onesies so great is the fact that it kills two birds with one stone. Aside from reducing anxiety, it helps with a few other things. And if we are to pick the best onesie out there, it has to be this model by Shed Defender.

This onesie is made of Shed-Tex, which is a polyester and spandex blend made from recycled plastic bottles. This fabric is stretchy and breathable, so you can rest assured your pooch stays comfy while wearing it. Even though it covers the entire body, it doesn’t restrict the dog’s movement in any way.

The Shed Defender Original Dog Onesie-Seen On Shark Tank being tested by our independent expert team.

Shed Defender Original Dog Onesie-Seen On Shark Tank being tested by our review team.

The onesie is designed to apply constant pressure on the entire dog’s body. Aside from relieving anxiety, this model can also be used to prevent your canine companion from licking or scratching when it’s medically required. Whether it’s a wound or allergy, the onesie keeps your pooch in check.

What the onesie also does is it prevents hair from sticking to everything. It still allows your Fido to naturally shed, but the hair remains inside the suit, while your car or furniture stays clean. To get rid of it, simply vacuum the onesie once you take it off your pooch.

Verified Review - 8/04/2021
Worth the $$
"My dog is a long-haired chihuahua. This allows him to travel with me without getting white hairs all over me, my car, and my boat."

Pros

Cons

  • Nine sizes to choose from
  • A bit more difficult to put on compared to other jackets
  • Features a zipper for potty breaks
  • Made from recycled materials
Cell
  • Stretchy and breathable
Cell

The Verdict

A good thunder jacket can help your pooch stay more relaxed in stressful situations. But if we had to pick a model that does it better than the others, that’s the Thundershirt. It’s the product that was used in research on the subject, so there are scientific claims it works. It’s clearly comfortable for wearing, and it comes in many sizes, so it surely fits dogs of all breeds.

Another product that comes close is the thunder jacket by the American Kennel Club. It’s lightweight, breathable and covers your Fido’s entire torso perfectly. It also comes in five sizes, so you can find the right fit for most dogs.

FAQ

What kind of situation can usually trigger a dog’s anxiety?

There are many possible causes of a dog’s anxiety, and they can be grouped into three: fear-related, age-related and separation anxiety (3). Fear-related anxieties are caused by unknown places and people, strange loud noises and even stressful situations, such as a ride to the vet’s office. Age-related anxieties are often associated with cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which is the dog’s equivalent of Alzheimer's. Finally, separation anxiety happens to some dogs when they’re alone, and causes undesirable behaviour.

What are the symptoms of dog anxiety?

There are different ways a dog can express anxiety. Some dogs tremble, try to hide and even pee on the floor. Others turn to aggression or destructive behaviour. While none of these symptoms is something that dogs should manifest, aggression is by far the most problematic one, as it can be directed towards other animals or even humans.

What can I do to calm my dog in such situations?

What you can do to help your dog depends a lot on the anxiety trigger. Some issues can be managed by socializing and gradually exposing your dog to them, like meeting new dogs. But more serious problems, such as fear of fireworks, can’t be dealt with the same way. In that case, it’s best to talk to your vet, who can prescribe your dog anti-anxiety meds.

How long can a dog wear an anxiety jacket?

If the anxiety jacket fits right and isn’t uncomfortable to wear, your dog should be able to wear it for many hours at a time. Most models are designed to be worn the majority of the day, as you should put them on the dog before experiencing a stressful situation. If put on after the event, a dog can associate it with the trigger, which can cause the opposite effect.

References

  1. Llera, R. “Anxiety Vests for Dogs” VCA Animal Hospitals. Retrieved April 10, 2022. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/anxiety-vests-for-dogs
  2. Dreyfuss, E. July 3, 2018. “Do Thundershirts Really Calm Dogs During Fireworks or What?” Wired. Retrieved April 10, 2022. https://www.wired.com/story/do-thundershirts-really-calm-dogs-during-fireworks-or-what/
  3. Kriss, R. January 15, 2021. “Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Dog Anxiety” American Kennel Club. Retrieved April 10, 2022. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/treating-dog-anxiety/
Vedrana Nikolic

Vedrana Nikolić is a professional writer, anthropologist & dog lover with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. Currently pursuing a Masters degree in Semiotics studying the communication between animals and humans. Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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