Tips from a Thunderstruck ThunderShirt fan

July 8, 2016
dvm360 Staff

When a fearful patient comes in, these veterinary team members consider whether a Thundershirt fitting is in order.

"We hear, quite regularly, 'This is the most is the most relaxed I've seen him/her in a long time!'," says Kelly Searles. When it comes to ThunderShirts, there are veterinary skeptics, realists and advocates. 

Skeptics haven't seen success with the pet-calming garments. They don't stock or use them in the hospital, and they try to steer curious pet owners to other calming alternatives. 

Realists have seen it work, but they try not to tout the ThunderShirt too much. They're not comfortable recommending it widely. "Yes," these folks say, "you could buy a ThunderShirt. Tell me if it works." 

Advocates, on the other hand, incorporate pet-calming garments as a patient care protocol and a low stress marketing message. 

We'll let you guess which one Bigger Road Veterinary Center is. 

See it to believe it 

When a patient's eyes and ears visibly relax, everyone else in a household-and a veterinary practice-relaxes too. At clinics like Bigger Road Veterinary Center in Springboro, Ohio, team members evaluate patients when they come in. If they seem incapable of calming down, out comes the ThunderShirt. 

"ThunderShirts are one of our favorite tools in the proverbial toolbox," says Kelly Searles, practice manager at Bigger Road Veterinary Center. 

Quick Tip 

You've decided Prissy the petrified poodle requires a ThunderShirt. Make sure to put her in it while she's still waiting in the lobby (a quiet lobby, of course, not one jammed to the walls with barks, meows and squawks). That way, it'll already have taken effect by the time Prissy actually needs to be handled. 

Dogs or cats? 

ThunderShirts have ben shown more effective with dogs than with cats. So, the ThunderShirt might work at home for the cat, but Searles hesitates to recommend cat fittings in the clinic. 

"The act of putting it on them, coupled with the sound of Velcro, has the potential to actually increase cats' stress in the clinic environment," Searles says. "We've also found that cats with long hair can get a bit tangled up in the Velcro." 

A lightning fast change that sells itself 

ThunderShirts, fully stocked, ready to storm out of the clinic and into the home of a client for further use. Once the shirt is on, patients that respond well to the ThunderShirt don't take long to show a positive effect. 

"We've seen a noticeable difference in about 85 percent of patients who wear a ThunderShirt while they're visiting," says Searles. 

In fact, the practice team has found that more often than not, the change is so noticeable that clients ask to purchase one to have for their pets at home.