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We have a 6-7 year old pancreatic American Eskimo that had been symptom-free for several months. Several weeks ago we got a Thunder Shirt as a gift and she generally seems to enjoy wearing it (for example, she doesn't move awkwardly while wearing it). But this week, after having worn it continuously for several days in a row, she threw up. She had also been acting a bit out of sorts for the last two days, staying in her crate and dodging most attempts to pet her, etc.

We've been adhering strictly to her dietary requirements, not feeding her anything unless its Guaranteed Analysis indicates a Crude Fat Max of 9% or less (her regular food is 4% max), so we don't think this could be food related.

When I took the Thunder Shirt off this morning, she seemed to liven up a bit, sat with me on the couch, and even presented her belly for a while, at which point I noticed digestive-type sounds coming from her abdomen at regular intervals - maybe every five seconds or so. I theorized that wearing the Thunder Shirt for multiple days could have been constricting one of her internal organs, and now that I'd removed it, whatever was constricted suddenly started doing whatever it was supposed to be doing. But my wife said it's just the sound of impending diarrhea and not related to the Thunder Shirt.

Could the Thunder Shirt have caused, or contributed to, my dog getting sick? Or did she just start acting more normal after I took it off because she was already feeling better after throwing up, and the timing was just a coincidence?

  • I'm not sure whether a thundershirt can have any ill effects on a dog's health with prolonged use, but it will certainly "wear off" in that it loses it's effect on the dog. However, if your dog wears the shirt for pure comfort rather than to deal with anxiety, that might not matter much to you. – ThomasH Oct 2 '15 at 14:22
  • Since eskies are so fluffy, it's possible she was getting uncomfortable from not getting enough air circulation through her coat. I imagine it would be like wearing a tight hat day. Thundershirts aren't really meant to be worn for prolonged periods since they are worn so tight during a storm or "scary" event, but I can't speak to potential side effects of doing so. – jeffaudio Oct 2 '15 at 19:07
  • I really doubt the shirt is tight enough to cause serious internal harm like organ damage. But just as wearing tight, restrictive garments for a long time can be extremely uncomfortable for humans, so too for a dog. I'd also be careful to make sure the shirt isn't rubbing. If the shirt causes the dog to move differently than normal, in the very long term, if worn quite frequently, it may cause things like posture or joint issues, just like repeated frequent unnatural posture or movement can for humans. – Kai Oct 2 '15 at 20:58
  • I edited the post to clarify that she doesn't move differently when wearing it. Can any of these comments be upgraded to an answer? Does anyone have knowledge or experience regarding pancreatitis in particular? – Dan Henderson Oct 2 '15 at 22:25
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The directions for the thunder shirt do say that you must take it off at least twice a day for 30 min each. I am not sure if that would be enough time to matter though. I have also noticed that my dog acts out of character when he wears it for a certain period of time (sleeps a lot and lays by himself rather than seeking attention from me). I use it to calm his separation anxiety while at school and work.

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It could be something she randomly ate which irritated her pancreas, causing the vomiting. One of my dogs recently ate something that gave him a bout of pancreatitis and it took more than a week for him to get back to normal. He wasn't running or jumping (which he does all the time, especially when he's excited) and he was walking funny because of his discomfort.

It's my understanding that the shirt works because of the added pressure and fur stimulation that it provides. Something about it is comforting. It could be that the shirt was pressing on a spot that was extra-sensitive because of the pancreatitis, so removing the pressure relieved the discomfort. The shirt wouldn't be tight enough to cause that much constriction (unless you bought one too small) but it could add enough pressure to be uncomfortable.

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  • Agree with the input on this question and would add that continuous wear might be analogous to wearing a bra ALL DAY. – M.Mat Feb 5 '17 at 23:12

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