We are all afraid of something- snakes, heights, clowns, the ocean, the list is endless. Fear is a universal feeling that everyone has to deal with, even our cute, cuddly pets. Unfortunately, some dogs have it worse than others. So how can you, a pet parent, help your fearful companion?
Dogs have different forms of anxiety disorders. They can suffer from separation anxiety, noise sensitivity, age-related anxiety, illness-related anxiety, and many others. Common methods of treatment for anxiety disorders include crate and behavioral training, medication, desensitization, natural home remedies like CBD oil, and counterconditioning. Although there are many treatment options for anxiety disorders in dogs, new methods of treatment are developing every day.
Such treatment includes dressing your dog up in a sweater to lessen his anxiety. After hearing this claim, we all have the same question- Are dogs calmer when wearing sweaters? There is scientific proof that they are! Read on to find out all you need to know about the calming nature of dog sweaters and how you can select the right sweater for your pooch.
Do Sweaters Help Calm a Dog?
Yes, sweaters can help relax dogs that suffer from anxiety disorders. There are special sweaters designed to lower your pet’s anxiety, though, and they work better than just any sweater. Sweaters can help calm dogs with separation anxiety however, for dogs who struggle with fear-based anxiety, sweaters may not be the right treatment route to take. These specialized sweaters and vests “hug” your pet, and this gentle pressure will cause the brain and nervous system to release endorphins (mood-boosting hormones).
The concept of sweaters providing comfort for dogs is similar to swaddling a baby. Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety will often exhibit signs of extreme stress (like excessive howling or barking, pacing, and destructive acts around the house) when left alone. A dog with separation anxiety will treat his owner’s clothes like a security blanket. So when wearing a sweater that smells like his owner, he will become calmer.
The same logic applies to puppies just separated from the litter. The first few days at home are usually the hardest for these new family members, and they usually cry all through the lonely night. Providing a sweater that smells just like mum or his litter mates will help the pup relax. You might want to try different household remedies as well and, in severe cases, reach out to your vet for medications.
Why Do They Calm Dogs so Much?
At this point, you must realize that the size of the specialized or normal sweater plays a big role in its anxiety-calming ability. The sweater must fit just right! The science behind it is that the sweater applies gentle pressure to parts of your pet’s body and inhibits the sympathetic nervous system- the system responsible for the fight or flight response. With the inhibition of this system, your pet is more relaxed.
The use of a sweater for relaxation will only work when the sweater is the right size. A sweater that is too big will weigh down your pooch, restrict your dog’s movement, and will not apply the required gentle pressure. A sweater that is too tight can bruise your dog and interfere with his breathing.
When using a normal sweater to help calm an anxious dog, the calming effect usually comes from the size and smell. As explained above, a dog will always recognize and find comfort in its owner’s scent. Young pups find comfort in the scent of their mother or litter mates. A sweater that smells like your canine’s place of comfort will always help calm him down in times of stress.
Is It Ok to Put a Sweater on A Dog?
Yes, it is fine to put a sweater on a dog. Before deciding on the sweater, make sure that the material doesn’t irritate your dog or stimulate allergic reactions. Look for a sweater made from top-quality material like wool. You should also consider the fit and comfort of the sweater before settling on it.
In the summer, a sweater isn’t a practical clothing choice. During this season, you should choose a vest or T-shirt so that your pet doesn’t struggle with the heat or, worse, suffer from heat stroke. Sweaters are perfect for the colder seasons. Note that for dogs with heavy hair coats like the Bernese Mountain dog or Akita, a sweater might be uncomfortable and lead to overheating.
The doggo wearing the sweater gets to choose whether he wants to wear the sweater or not. So if your pooch says no to wearing a sweater, you should find other ways of calming his anxiety. Also, it is better to avoid sweaters with beads, rhinestones, or materials that he can swallow. These can end up injuring your pet’s throat and even blocking his gastrointestinal tract.
A sweater could be a great addition to your pet’s wardrobe. This clothing item can help dogs with anxiety by providing calm pressure and inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system. Although not much research has been carried out concerning the calming abilities of dog sweaters, some owners swear that their dogs are calmer with sweaters. So, if you are looking for a clothing item to make your dog calmer, start with a sweater.