Last Updated on July 9, 2023
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Several years ago, my parents owned a small dog who would go into a complete panic over any kind of loud noises. Thunderstorms and fireworks would drive him to bark constantly and pant so hard that he’d hyperventilate. Their vet recommended a special jacket that would lightly squeeze his body, like a gentle hug, and reduce anxiety. It worked pretty well, so every time a thunderstorm was predicted, they’d suit him up in his jacket and hope that he’d behave (somewhat) normally until it passed.
My dog, Stella, also strongly dislikes loud noises, but her response is to go downstairs and hide until they’re over. It’s easier to deal with than a dog who’s hyperventilating, but we still worry about her. She won’t go outside at all if she hears thunderstorms or fireworks nearby. She’s been known to try to hide under parked cars if we’re out walking and thunder rolls in the distance.
Shortly before the 4th of July, I noticed that Aldi was selling a Heart to Tail Pet Anxiety Jacket for $6.99. That’s significantly cheaper than similar jackets on Amazon, so I bought one for my dog and hoped it would help her get through what is (for her) the worst night of the year.
Sizing and Fit:
I’ve bought several Heart to Tail clothing items for my dog, including rain jackets, warm jackets, and even Christmas pajamas (which she hates). My dog is only 29 pounds, but she’s tall and has a long body, so I usually have to get her a size large, even though she’s considered a medium-sized dog by weight and breed.
However, since the Anxiety Jacket is supposed to fit closely, I got her a medium. This time, it was the right size. I would recommend sizing your dog according to the sample breeds on the packaging, even if you normally size up.
The jacket my parents’ dog used to wear was a thick, lightly padded material, similar to a medium-weight jacket for a human. It had several Velcro straps to adjust the jacket’s tightness.
The Heart to Tail Pet Anxiety Jacket, however, is made of stretchy knit fabric, like a T-shirt. It also has Velcro straps on the neck flaps and across the chest. The material seems much thinner and cheaper than the fabric used for more expensive jackets, but that also makes it cooler for summer use. July in my area can be very hot, so I prefer the lighter-weight material.
Using the Jacket:
The jacket does not have any instructions telling you how tight or loose to position the straps around the chest, so I had to experiment. I placed them on a little tight at first, to create that “hugging” sensation that’s supposed to be relaxing. However, Stella wasn’t so sure. She looked uncomfortable, and when she walked to her bowl right after I put the jacket on her, she leaned to one side, like it was suddenly difficult to walk in a straight line. I quickly loosened up the straps so that the jacket fit without squeezing. She was happy then and relaxed on her bed after eating.
A $6.99 jacket is not going to cure my dog of a lifetime fear of loud noises. However, I noticed that when Stella wore it on the night of July 4th, she stayed upstairs with us instead of immediately running to hide in the basement when the fireworks started up. She was still nervous, but not as upset as usual.
I plan on using this jacket during thunderstorms and for the 4th of July again next year. It helped my dog feel better and is comfortable enough for her to wear for several hours at a time. Stella and I recommend it for anxious dogs any time of the year.