Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bichon Travel Anxiety & The Thundershirt

Riley was always a good traveler for the first 11 years of his life.  He's now 14, and the last three years have gotten progressively worse.  I've been desperate to find a solution to calm his fears in the car.  I can deal with it for short runs around town but making trips over 1 hour in length has become a very unpleasant event for everyone in the car.  I think it's the fact that he's losing his vision and he just can't navigate his surroundings that well.  I took him to the vet to discuss my options and the only one I got was to try a low dose tranquilizer.  We left with a prescription bottle of Acepromazine and increased anxiety for me wondering what the drug would do to Riley.  When I heard about the Thundershirt, I thought it would be worth the investment of $40 since he already chooses tight spots.  Most of the time when I'm laying on the couch, he's wedged between me and the cushions.
Sometimes, he will even wedge himself between two cushions and pillows to find the perfect tight spot !
His favorite wedging spot in the kitchen is between the trash can
and the cabinet........
He's never been afraid of thunderstorms.  He does not even acknowledge them! He does have separation anxiety when he's not with me.  That's a whole nother story and many family members can tell many annoying stories about how Riley acts when I'm not around. 

Back to the travel anxiety.....I bought the shirt in a small and it fit him perfect.

I secured him in a tight swaddle per the directions.  Click here to get to Thundershirt's website for all the information.

Last weekend we made our first trip with the Thundershirt.  I have to admit that I did give him a dose of the sedative too.  But I was really worried about, so I cut the dose in half.............I was still REALLY worried about, so I shaved off even more of the tablet.  He probably got a little more than 1/4 of the dose he was prescribed.
He was more calm in the Thundershirt and once the little bit of sedative kicked in, he was totally relaxed and a loosey goosey for about 30 minutes of the 2.5 hour trip.  I could feel the tension leave his muscles as he relaxed and had a nice nap in the car.
So I can't say that the Thundershirt was the total solution, but I know it helped him a lot.  Maybe on another trip we will try just the swaddle wrap shirt and see how it goes.


  1. Hmmm...Interesting. I didn't understand how the shirt worked so seeing how he tries to get in tight spots helps it make sense to me. Good to know and I'll keep it in mind.

  2. We may have to try that! I didn't know Riley was 14! Mine are 12 and 13. One is losing her vision and the other is a nervous nellie. Thanks for the tips!! We don't like to medicate either so I've been looking for alternatives.