relieving canine anxiety the natural way with #ThunderShirt

This article first appeared last month on Hybrid Rasta Mama, where I contribute a monthly article about holistic pet care that you can read on the second Wednesday of each month. Head on over to Hybrid Rasta Mama to see this months article, "Dogs Going Vegan."


It seems everyone is anxious these days. There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, and politics to debate. 

Though they don't give a darn what's going on in congress, our dogs have their own anxieties. These anxieties can seem irrational and hard to understand since our pets can't pipe up and explain their feelings. 

Dogs have their own language to show anxiety. Signs that your dog has anxiety include:

• shaking/trembling

• destruction of things

• hiding/cowering

• pacing

• aggression

• restlessness

• excessive barking

• raised paw (as if injured)

• crinkled brow

• yawning (when not tired)

• excessive itching

• excessive paw chewing (or other body part)

• licking chops

• tucking tail between legs

Anxiety in dogs can be general, especially in a dog who has been traumatized or abused, but is more typically situation-specific. Some common anxiety-producing situations for dogs include storms, fireworks, or other loud noises, fear of certain types of people (children, men, etc.), travel, and separation anxiety.

We have the option to pop a pill to relieve our anxiety. And we have the option to do the same for Fido. But most of us don't wish to live life in a drug-induced haze, and we certainly don't wish to deal with unwanted side effects that these strong medications–however effective–can bring. Herbal remedies are an excellent alternative, as is behavioral modification, or a combination of the two. These methods can take time, and it's hard to be patient while we watch our pet in panic mode. Wouldn't it be great if we could just give our pooch a great big hug to melt his worries away?

We can.

Enter ThunderShirt.



After doing a lot of research, including case studies of my own, I now recommend my clients and friends try the ThunderShirt as a natural, quick, safe, and effective method to reduce canine anxiety. It doesn't work for everyone, but it does work for most, which is awesome. No medication required. No side effects. It seems almost too good to be true. So how does it work?

ThunderShirt uses gentle hugging to calm your dog or cat. With its patented design, ThunderShirt's gentle, constant pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs and cats if they are anxious, fearful or overexcited. Based on surveys completed by over two thousand customers, over 80% of dogs and cats show significant improvement in symptoms when using ThunderShirt...How does ThunderShirt work? Experts believe that pressure has a calming effect on the nervous system, possibly by releasing a calming hormone like endorphins. Using pressure to relieve anxiety in people and animals has been a common practice for years...

Using pressure to relieve anxiety has proven to be effective for infants (swaddling), in people with autism, and by animal trainers and veterinarians to release a variety of animal anxieties.

Not all, but some, veterinarians can be quick to prescribe anxiety-relieving medication. They want to see quick results to help your animal, but some may be uneducated about alternatives, and some even have ulterior motives. I feel that for my family, including my pets, it is important to try natural methods before taking that route. ThunderShirt can provide relief that is just as effective and rapid as harsh medications, so, in my opinion, it's worth a try!

The first step when using the ThunderShirt is to slowly get your pet used to it in a positive way. ThunderShirt recommends that you feed your dog a favorite treat using the shirt as a plate. This way, your pooch will feel good about his new attire right away. The next step is to try the shirt on and use it for very brief periods. Many dogs achieve instant anxiety relief the moment the ThunderShirt is put on, but some may take a bit longer. There are countless stories of animals with extremely high-anxiety levels during a storm, for example, finding instant and complete relief, even falling asleep during a storm that would have otherwise thrown them into a complete meltdown.

ThunderShirt is not an affiliate of well minded, though I have been provided the ThunderShirt product in order to conduct some of the following case studies:

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 1 (Rex)

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 2 (Jack)

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 3 (making it through the 4th)

the big, bad world: enter, ThunderShirt, part 4 (Remington)

ThunderShirt is available for both dogs and cats and can be ordered online or purchased at most pet stores.

Have you tried ThunderShirt or another natural method for reducing pet anxiety? We'd love to hear your story!

seeing #Blackfish

photo source: I wrote a few months back about anticipating the release of Blackfish, the documentary about Tilikum, a killer whale captured, then raised in captivity. I must admit, though I'd committed to myself to see it, I let it come and go through the local theaters, thinking of excuses as solid as the ones I use when I skip my workout. It was when I saw it advertised on television that CNN would be premiering the film that I realized if I wasn't going to the film, it was coming to me. I set the DVR.

It sat in my feed for a couple of days, then yesterday I mustered up the courage and pushed aside denial.

I expected the film to be centered only around the treatment of killer whales and their lives in captivity–why they shouldn't be in captivity. It was about that, but it was equally about the cover-up by Sea World, mainly, of, not only known concerns about the animals, but about the safety of their trainers. The trainers who universally loved the animals and who built close emotional relationships with them were often kept in the dark and lied to about the reality of the situation they were central to. This was news to me.

I grew up going to Sea World, San Diego at least a couple of times a year. As I mentioned in my previous post about Blackfish, it wasn't until I was halfway through college that I changed the course of my career from that of a killer whale trainer. What the Blackfish interviews captured from the trainers about how they got started was exactly how I felt. There is just this magnificent wonder. There is a burning desire to be near these animals.

But even if one doesn't go so far as to become a killer whale trainer, there is still the magic of being in their presence that can't be denied. Few of us have the means to go to the native waters of these pods of killer whales, so, instead, we go to Sea World, where we can view them close-up in a seemingly controlled environment and score ourselves a hot dog and a stuffed toy in the process. Good ol' family fun. But at what cost?

If you want to know the answer to that question, see Blackfish, which, here in the U.S. is currently being shown on CNN and is available for order on DVD. I'm not one to cry out boldly about politics and sensitive issues, as I have friends, family, and colleagues on both extremes of the political spectrum. I have close friends who frequent Sea World with their families. I see their treasured photos with Shamu on Facebook. If you're one of those people, I'm not going to turn on you. I believe you don't know. Because if you did, you wouldn't be so proud of those photos. See Blackfish.

It's akin to my philosophy about eating meat. I'm not going go shun you for doing it. Heck, I'm an almost-vegan who enjoys a beef burger every so often. I get it. But know where your meat comes from. Make an educated choice, not one in denial. See Blackfish before you go back to Sea World.

I practically grew up at Sea World. Though I haven't been back since my college days, I could still probably navigate the park with a blindfold on. It was like a second home. If I can say good-bye to it, so can you.

My kids (age six and four) watched Blackfish with me. Yes, it upset them, but that's okay. I want them to know the truth and be able to make their own decisions. I paused the film (thank goodness for the DVR) in several spots to help them understand. A few minutes into the film, they asked, "so we can never go to Sea World?" At the end of the film, my four-year-old daughter declared, "we'll never go to Sea World because it's not okay to treat the killer whales like that. It's wrong." My six-year-old son sat there in silence with his head down.

And that sums it up. It's okay for them to know the truth. And it's okay for you to know it, too. See Blackfish.

You can check out the trailer, here: [youtube=]

silly state law saturday: alabama

Our teen thing, B, is taking a law class this semester, and he is surprised by how much he's enjoying it. He likes it so much that he and his law class buddies have taken to spending some of their free time looking up and debating silly laws. Last week, he started reading some of them to me, and we were laughing so hard we were crying and gasping for air. Of course, many of them are silly today because they were only really applicable during the time they were instated. It's amazing some of this stuff is still on the books! What's even more entertaining to me is how many of these laws involve animals. I was inspired by our new family "game" and wanted to share this great new source of entertainment with my readers, but there are just too many to include in one post, so we'll be visiting this topic by state in alphabetical order, starting with good ol' Alabama.


Alabama's silly state (and city) laws regarding animals:

• Bear wresting matches are prohibited. This law was designed to protect the bears from this inhumane form of entertainment. Is there no limit to the types of animals we will pit against each other? In addition, a person may not surgically alter a wrestling bear. I guess since it's unlawful for bears to wrestle, then we can only surgically alter non-wrestling bears. Which would be all bears. Sure.

• It is considered an offense to open an umbrella on a street, for fear of spooking horses (repealed). I wonder how many horses currently roam the streets of Alabama. We'll just get's worth it for the horses.

• Elephants may not be placed in electric ovens. Well, there go the Thanksgiving plans.

• It is illegal to marry an animal that is not already a relation. Um. Well. I guess marriage equality does have limits. Apparently animals are considered family members of their owners. And we can marry them.

And my personal favorite...

• If an animal control officer is in uniform, it signifies to the public that he is an animal control officer. So glad we cleared that up.

Law information source: and