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Is a Calming Vest Right for Your Dog?

Is a Calming Vest Right for Your Dog?

Critter Culture Staff



They're touted as a simple remedy to relieve anxiety in dogs. But do calming vests truly work? What do they do? Is this the right solution to manage your dog?

Before making a buy, it's important to figure out if a calming vest is the right fit for your pooch. Learn the ins and outs of what it offers. See how it affects stressed-out dogs. Could it potentially help your pup? What other options are out there?


Anxiety in dogs

Before getting into calming vests, you need to have a good understanding of how anxiety affects dogs. Separation and fear-related anxiety are the two main culprits, and canines react differently to these types according to their personalities.

Some pups get afraid of loud noises or new situations. Others lose their minds when left alone or have to go in a car. Whatever the reason, their fearful behavior will manifest itself in different ways. Typical reactions include barking, urinating, tearing apart the house, pacing, or running away. So what can you do to calm this aggression, depression, and restlessness?

dog lying on the destroyed couch Iuliia Zavalishina / Getty Images


What exactly is a calming vest?

For many owners, a great solution to their dog's anxiety is a calming vest. Known as a safe, cost-effective, and easy fix to calm stressed animals, a calming vest almost acts as a security blanket for pets. It simulates a giant hug, which naturally soothes the wearer. This helps with both separation and fear-related anxieties.


How calming vests work

Swaddling a baby provides warmth, shelter, and a sense of protection. A calming vest offers the same feelings to a dog. Gentle pressure seems to alleviate at least some anxiety in animals, which is what this apparel is designed to do.

A calming vest is composed of spandex, polyester, rayon, and velcro. These tight materials fit snugly around your pup's central body mass. Once they're wrapped, they should feel a constant pressure that simulates comforting contact.


Using a calming vest

Don't expect favorable results if you dive right into things and put the shirt on your dog. This will likely only lead to an aversion and even more anxiety. Instead, you need to gradually introduce your furry friend to this apparel. It's important to ease the dog into the situation with plenty of practice before using it for its intended purpose. Positive association is the correct way to begin.

Leave the calming vest out for your dog to explore. Place a yummy treat on it to make it more alluring. Once your pup has a proper introduction and displays tolerance toward the shirt, it's time for the first fitting. Without making sudden moves, dress your dog, but only let them wear it for a few minutes. Repeat this process daily while extending the wearing time.


Calming vest stats

Overall, dog owners report great results with this product. When surveyed, there's a solid 80% satisfaction rate. Most dog trainers and vets recommend calming vest as a drug-free alternative to treating anxiety. Pet parents who use them rave about the difference these shirts make in their lives. The majority of complaints come due to anxious pups being afraid of the velcro or nervously chewing the fabric.


What dogs shouldn't use a calming vest?

Calming vests aren't for every dog. As with all routine changes, it's a good idea to consult your vet prior to purchasing, especially if your furry friend has any health issues. Canines with heart problems shouldn't wear calming vests. Also, it's not advisable to put one on your senior dog unless your vet tells you otherwise.

Elderly Dog Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images


When to use and not use

A calming vest is great for a number of situations, such as during fireworks or a storm. If you leave your home and your pooch has separation anxiety, have them wear the shirt when you aren't there. Otherwise, use it whenever there's a specific trigger or event in your dog's day.

Though the fabric is breathable, always avoid using a calming vest in extreme heat. And the vest shouldn't be worn for extended periods of time. Long-term use is fine, but to avoid chaffing, take it off your dog for about 10-15 minutes every hour or two. Pay attention to the time of use because another common complaint is skin irritation.


Different styles of calming vests

Comfort is key with a calming vest; you'll want to avoid any issues that can lead to skin conditions or your dog tearing it up. The shirts come in a number of styles. There's classic, which is available in an array of sizes to fit all canines. Sports models are for more active dogs since the fabric expands and allows for additional air flow. Polos are the most stylish.


Other options to calm anxiety

If you don't feel that a calming vest is a good solution for your dog, there are a number of other stress-relieving products available. ThunderCaps cover a dog's eyes, so they don't get anxious over visual stimulation. The ThunderEase lineup uses pheromones to induce relaxation. Products include collars, sprays, and diffusers.


Alternatives to calming vests

There are a few anti-anxiety tips and tricks that could help. Try some common-sense ideas like keeping the blinds closed or using food and playtime as distractions. If these don't work, avoid going the prescription medication route right away. Look into some healthier options first.

Homeopathic solutions for anxiety may be beneficial. Before trying these, consult your vet since some extracts can be harmful to animals. The same goes for certain treats and oils, which show an overwhelmingly positive outcome for canine anxiety.

owner playing with dog gpointstudio / Getty Images


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