Does 'Thunder Shirt' really work? - KCTV5

Does 'Thunder Shirt' really work?

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FOX Carolina's Cody Alcorn tried the vest out on his dog, named G Man. (July 6, 2012/FOX Carolina) FOX Carolina's Cody Alcorn tried the vest out on his dog, named G Man. (July 6, 2012/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

It retails for about $45 and it claims to be able to relieve your dog's nervousness, but does it really work?

The "Thunder Shirt" bills itself as the best solution for dog anxiety. The product's website said the Velcro vest uses a gentle, constant pressure to relieve a dog's anxiety, fearfulness, barking and more.

FOX Carolina's Cody Alcorn decided to try out the vest on his own high-strung best friend, G Man - a pit bull mix. The instructions stated owners should get their pet comfortable with the vest before slipping it on, but just a few treats was all G Man needed.

Alcorn said after he slipped the "Thunder Shirt" onto G Man, he noticed that he became calmer, but after about 20 minutes the pup was ready to take it off.

So, to be fair, Alcorn decided to find other dog owners who tried the vest.

Enter Lucy and her owner, Jan Todd. Todd said Lucy is very scared of fireworks, loud noises and especially thunderstorms. She said that within a few days of using the "Thunder Shirt," she noticed a huge difference in her furry friend's anxiety level.

"She doesn't run and hide, and that's a great improvement for her," Todd said. "She's still a little, you know, frightened, but no where near the experience she had before we started using them."

Now, on to Lucy's brother, Ricky, and his owner, Todd's husband, Charley. He said Lucy has taught Ricky how to be afraid.

"He learned how to get scared, and he would start to shake, run away, get under anything," Charley Todd said. "He would hide under anything."

Once in the vest, Ricky started to relax, Charley Todd said.

"It won't eliminate everything, but it will help them feel more relaxed and safe," Charley Todd said.

Probably the best example was Ret and his owner, Julie Cole. She said Ret was abused when he was a pup, so he is extremely scared of people. Cole adopted him in 2005.

"I used to not be able to bring him anywhere, because he would be so nervous and freak out," Cole said.

The "Thunder Shirt" has vastly improved Ret's mood around people, Cole said.

"We can actually get out and enjoy life," Cole said as she walked Ret down Main Street in downtown Greenville. "Ret doesn't have to go hide under the bed. That's his safe place. That's where he goes when he's afraid."

However, the shirt did not cure all of Ret's nervous ticks. During his walk, Ret kept spinning in circles and looking over his shoulder to see who was behind him. Cole said the big difference during the walk was he wasn't pulling and tugging on the leash.

Dr. Ann Malphrus, of the North Greenville Animal Hospital, said she has a number of clients that have tried the "Thunder Shirt," and she has heard mixed reviews. She said it's worth trying because there are no side effects, and it may keep a dog off medication.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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