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Anxiety Wraps for Dogs: What You Need to Know

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By Aurus Sy

Published: 09/28/2021, edited: 09/28/2021

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Does your dog hide in the bathroom during thunderstorms and fireworks? It’s never fun seeing your best friend tremble in fear whenever there are loud noises. While some pups with noise phobia may need medication to calm them down, a simple piece of clothing may be all it takes for your pup to feel safe and relaxed.

Anxiety wraps are an easy, simple, medication-free way to keep your dog in several situations. You’ve probably seen photos of other dogs sporting these anxiety wraps online. But what exactly are they and how do they work?


What are anxiety wraps?

Anxiety wraps are vest-like garments designed to promote relaxation in anxious canines during stressful events. It is believed that the gentle pressure applied to a dog’s torso by a snug vest provides the same calming effect as swaddling a baby or a hug, and can give them the sense of security they need to conquer their fears. 

Whether to help brave a scary event or to curb separation anxiety, these garments can make a world of difference for a nervous pup. But it’s important to get your pooch used to an anxiety wrap prior to an unpleasant event. Have them practice wearing it every once in a while during low-stress situations so that they don’t always associate it with negative experiences. You'll want to start slow, with just a few minutes of wear at first. Then, each time the vest goes on, increase the amount of time your pup wears it little by little, until they can be comfortable in it for an hour or more. Constant wear may reduce the wrap’s effectiveness though, so don’t overdo it, and be sure to remove it after the stressful event. 


When to use an anxiety wrap for your dog

Canine anxiety can be caused by a number of different things. Thunderstorms are one of the most common causes, and not just because of the loud noise. Lightning flashes, the constant pounding of rain, and even changes in barometric pressure can make some dogs very anxious. Getting zapped from the buildup of static electricity adds to the stress as well. 

Aside from thunderstorms, firecrackers and other loud sounds, visitors, vacuum cleaners, car rides, getting their nails trimmed, and being separated from their humans can also lead to extreme nervousness in canines.

Dogs respond to anxiety triggers in various ways. They may shake, whine, pant, bark, or pace constantly, or even have potty accidents inside. Some will hide in the bathroom or seek the comfort of their humans, while others will scratch the floor, door, or windowsill. Anxious dogs can injure themselves with continuous clawing, or put themselves in danger if they break out of the house.


Do anxiety wraps really work?

Only a handful of studies have looked at the effectiveness of anxiety wraps, but it seems that these calming vests do provide a viable solution to canine anxiety. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior examined the effect of a popular brand of anxiety wrap on the heart rate and behavior of dogs diagnosed with separation anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder.

The 90 participating canines were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: Group 1 wore the anxiety wrap according to the manufacturer’s instructions, Group 2 wore it loosely without pressure, and Group 3, which served as the control group, did not wear the wrap. The dogs in Group 1 experienced a significantly less increase in average heart rate than those in the other 2 groups. They showed less stress reduction behaviors such as tongue-flicking and yawning as well. 

In another study published in 2013 in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, dog parents reported a 47% lower Thunderstorm Anxiety Score after 5 uses of the anxiety wrap. In addition, 89% agreed that it was at least partially effective in treating their dogs’ thunderstorm phobia, and 80% said they would continue using it after the trial.


Should you rely on anxiety wraps alone?

Caring for an anxious dog may require a multipronged approach. Aside from anxiety wraps, here are other strategies to help your furry friend deal with their anxiety:

  • Set up a safe environment. Create a private space where your pup can retreat during storms, fireworks, or when visitors arrive. A sound-resistant room without windows, such as a closet or bathroom, is ideal. Your dog’s safe space should include a bed, food, water, toys, and treats. You can also block off any windows with cardboard or thick curtains, set up a crate with a bed inside, and turn on the TV or play calming music to diminish outside noise. Keep the lights on so flashes of lightning or fireworks aren’t too obvious.
  • Be with your dog. Staying at your pup’s side during a stressful event helps decrease their anxiety. Whether they’re getting their nails trimmed or hiding from visitors, they’ll appreciate having you there. Pet them and talk to them in a soothing voice, but don’t overcomfort them either, as they might get the idea that there’s really something to be scared of. If you know that you can’t be at home with your dog during an unpleasant situation, consider asking a trusted friend or dog sitter to fill in for you.

Anxiety wraps can help calm your dog’s nerves during high-stress situations. Many dog parents swear by them, so they just might be the answer to your four-legged pal’s anxiety too.

For more pawtastic info about helping your dog live their best life, check out more Wag! Wellness guides!

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