When we think of dogs or see images of them in the media, we mostly see boisterous, joyful creatures and devoted best friends of the human race. But that is not always the case. Dogs and cats, like humans, can struggle with stress and anxiety triggered by big and small things. From loud noises, stressful situations, bad weather, isolation, other animals, and vet visits, anxiety can become a real problem for your pup.

Are you stumped as to how you can relax your furry friend? Do they cower, cry, hide, become aggressive or struggle with stress diarrhea? A study of 13,000 canines found that 75% of dogs exhibit anxious traits. So it's safe to say that while the behavior is uncomfortable and distressing for dog owners, it is normal for most dogs. The good news is that there are many ways that you can help to calm a stressed-out pup. 

One of the tools in your doggy-calming-kit can be a dog anxiety jacket. 

What is a Dog Anxiety Vest?

Dog anxiety vests can also be called pressure vests, anxiety wraps, or thunder jackets. It's a tight jacket worn around your dog's torso and chest. The goal of anxiety vests is to provide gentle pressure to achieve a calming effect, much like a mother would swaddle their baby. 

Dog anxiety vests are understudied, and much of the praise has come from anecdotal testaments from pup parents. It may not be the answer for all fearful pets. The vest may offer a calming solution in stressful situations, but it cannot cure the underlying cause of the anxiety. Pets who exhibit extreme anxious traits may require anti-anxiety medication or natural calming treatment. 

How Does a Dog Anxiety Vest Work?

Dog Anxiety Vest

A dog anxiety jacket should provide gentle, constant pressure around your dog's body. Just as a hug or a weighted blanket can help you feel secure and safe, dog pressure vests provide that comforting embrace.

Inconclusive reasoning for this calming effect has been pinned on the stimuli of acupressure points as a way to encourage the release of oxytocin and endorphins. These hormones are what give your dog the feeling of belonging and calm, love and security. The constant pressure provided by an anxiety vest or calming wrap has proved helpful for many pets. 

When introducing a dog anxiety jacket to your furbaby, do so in a safe space with treats and affirmation. Make sure your dog is comfortable wearing the vest in your company and that it's properly fitted to apply pressure gently. It should fit snugly, but not too tight, around your dog's chest and torso.

When to Use a Dog Anxiety Vest

When to Use a Dog Anxiety Vest

You want to reach for an anxiety vest when your dog is anxious. Sometimes dog parents can anticipate the imminent situation (like a storm or fireworks on New Year's Eve), and other times not. 

Here are some possible situations where a dog anxiety jacket may come in handy:

  • Vet visits

  • Air or car travel

  • Separation anxiety

  • Social problems at the dog park

  • Around strangers or crowds

  • During fireworks

  • While cutting your pet's nails

  • During loud rain and thunder.

Your dog should not wear an anxiety vest all day. However, there is no specific time limit. As long as your four-legged friend is comfortable and able to move freely, a full day's wear will not harm your fur-child. 

Symptoms of Dog Anxiety

Firstly, take some time to identify the trigger of your dog's anxiety. Anxiety in pets can range from mild to severe. You should consult your vet if your pet has an anxiety disorder that includes self-harm, aggression, or chronic intermittent diarrhea.

When your dog is afraid or stressed, it may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Excessive drooling 

  • Attempting to escape

  • Self-harm, like gnawing the skin

  • Excessive grooming

  • Depression

  • Hiding 

  • Panting

  • Aggression

  • Verbalization: barking, crying, whining, howling

  • Compulsive or repetitive behavior

  • Air snapping

  • Destructive behavior in the house, such as chewing furniture

  • Pacing and general restlessness

  • Refusing to eat

  • Shaking

  • Urinating or defecating inside

  • Large bowel diarrhea

What to Look for in a Dog Anxiety Vest

Your dog deserves the best care. So when searching for the best anxiety vest for your dog, it's essential to keep a few features at the top of your "want" list. 

Size

The most effective dog anxiety vests are the ones that fit correctly. Before you head out to the pet store or do your online shopping, note your dog's weight and chest size. Buying your dog the right size is crucial. 

Many pressure vests come in a range of sizes, suitable for miniature to giant dog breeds. Consider the torso measurement of your dog and the length of the pressure garment, especially if you have a breed with a short body. If the anxiety vest is too long on your dog's body, it could interfere when they need to urinate. 

Fittings

When your dog is scared, the last thing they need is your fussing to fit them into a calming wrap. Choose an anxiety vest that is easy and quick to put on and adjust. Vests with armholes or ones that have to be pulled over their head may not be the best choice for your dog and could intensify their anxiety. Instead, select a jacket that fits around your dog's chest and torso with straps.

Material

Skin issues regularly inflict dogs, so when fitting your dog into a garment, whether for warmth, style, or pressure therapy, it's essential to consider the material. A breathable and durable fabric will be best.

  • Cotton vests. Cotton, breathable and soft, is a natural product and great for more extended wear. It's hypoallergenic for dogs with sensitive skin and can control moisture rather than trap it. If your dog likes wearing their anxiety vest while they sleep (during a storm), cotton is a great choice and will be comfortable.

  • Nylon. It is a synthetic fiber that is strong and easy to clean. If your dog has sensitive skin, then it may not be the best choice for them. 

  • Polyester. Soft but not as breathable as cotton. So, if you live in a warmer climate, your dog can get pretty sweaty in a polyester wrap.

Fastenings

Loops, buckles, or velcro are the most popular fastening methods for dog anxiety vests. Adjustable straps should be easy to use from the first time you put the wrap on your dog. Velcro is quick and easy to adjust. However, if you have a long-haired dog, make sure you miss their fur in the strap. Only when worn properly can dog anxiety vests have a calming effect on companion dogs.

Look for a vest that is easy to wash between wears. Google reviews speak volumes for a brand name and its products. Look for what customers are saying about the product, whether you'll receive a full refund if you're unhappy with the item or what the wear and tear longevity is for regular users.

Ways to Calm an Anxious Dog 

calm dog sitting with owner

Anxiety vests are only one method of treatment when you're helping your anxious pup. Socializing them through training, medicating them, and staying close to them can also help ease the stress. We know we want to help your dog feel relaxed immediately, but it may take some trial and error to find the treatment combination that relaxes your companion animal. 

Here are some ways that you can relax your dog:

Exercise

Getting your dog to move its body is a great way to increase happy hormones. The release of endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine increases as our pets interact with us and play. These positive feelings can carry them through the day and are especially helpful if your pet struggles with separation anxiety. Buying your dog a fun toy or snuffle mat can keep them distracted from their usual stress. 

Avoid Stressful Situations

It's not always possible, but if you know what makes your furbaby feel scared, you can keep them away from those fear-filled situations. If strangers scare your furbaby, then move them into a safe area of your house before someone like a plumber or handyman enter. You can even play some music for your pet to drown out the sound of thunder or choose a pet-friendly TV show for your pup. 

Keeping your dog away from crowded parks or shops is also simple if social situations trigger your dog. 

Training or Therapy

Training can be a beneficial method if social situations are linked to your dog's anxiety. Some socialization or puppy playdates can help your dog become accustomed to strangers - humans and fellow canine alike. 

Veterinary behaviorists can also help train your animal through cognitive therapy to alter its emotional response to situations. You can finally put an end to that incessant barking and aggression once and for all. 

Speak To Your Vet

Anxiety may be a symptom of a causative disease. Regular checkups with your vet are vital for early diagnosis. If your anxious dog displays any other symptoms such as diarrhea, discomfort, excessive grooming, or lethargy, you should contact your vet. 

Anxiety can progress as dogs get older, and your vet may prescribe psychotropic medications, like:

A dog with separation anxiety could also benefit from natural calmatives, which are less likely to cause horrible side effects. 

CBD Oils

Cannabidiol (CBD) derived from full spectrum hemp is a natural option that may help your dog to relax. The benefits of CBD oil are incredible. Bites and chews made with high-quality CBD oil can support immune system function, help with occasional discomfort, and have a calming effect on nerves. 

Dog Anxiety Vests - Helping Millions of Furry Friends Feel Safe

owner hugging dog

Dog anxiety is common in rescue dogs who have had a challenging start in life. But even if you've raised your furbaby yourself, their fear may still seem irrational to you. What's important is that you're there to comfort them and remain peaceful when they cannot. Researchers have even found that dogs mirror the stress of their owners. If that means getting a weighted blanket, or some CBD tincture for your nerves, then do that.

We all want to feel safe, and it's the same for anxious dogs. They need the security of their human when thunder or fireworks strike. Together with your pet, you can find calm in each other's company. 

Physical therapy in the form of a pressure vest is a great way to reduce the effects of environmental or emotional stress on your companion pet. While a pressure vest holds your dog in a warm embrace, it will simultaneously take the weight off your shoulders as your care for your fur-ever friend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do anxiety vests work for dogs? 

Dog anxiety vests are understudied, and much of the praise has come from anecdotal testaments from pup parents. It may not be the answer for all fearful pets. 

What is the best thing to give a dog for anxiety? 

Anxiety vests are only one method of treatment when you're helping your anxious pup. Socializing them through training, medicating them, and staying close to them can also help ease the stress. 

How long can you keep a calm vest on a dog? 

Your dog should not wear an anxiety vest all day. However, there is no specific time limit. As long as your dog is comfortable and able to move freely, a full day's wear will not harm your fur child. 

What do vets recommend for anxiety in dogs? 

Your family vet may recommend AmitriptylineClomipramineDexmedetomidine, Diazepam, or more, depending on the severity of your pet's anxiety disorder.