Weighted Blankets And Dogs

I love my weighted blanket. While it doesn’t altogether banish my anxiety, it does make finding my chill a little easier — and apparently some dog might relate. During a few recent Instagram scroll seshes, I’ve noticed people using weighted blankets to calm their fur babies too, adding to an array of anxiety gear that also includes pressure wraps and compression hoodies. But does anxiety gear such as weighted blankets work for dogs?

First, a quick rundown of the anxiety gear humans have been using to soothe their high-strung puppers: Weighted blankets, which have been especially buzzy as of late, contain glass or plastic pellets that cause them to drape about 10 to 30 pounds of weight onto the body, SELF explains. Pressure wraps, which resemble vests or shirts, also apply pressure to the body, as do compression hoodies, although they focus pressure on the head.

M. Leanne Lilly, an assistant professor in the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, compares their effect to that of swaddling a baby. “That sense of very even pressure creates a sense of calmness and safeness,” she says. Julie Kolzet, a New York City-based psychologist and sleep specialist previously told Mic about findings from a 2013 study that deep touch pressure, the type youd experience from a hug, boosts activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which plays a role in digestion and rest.

A number of studies have looked at moderate-to-deep pressure on soft tissue as a way to lower anxiety and promote relaxation in humans and animals, says Liz Stelow, Chief of Behavior Service at UC Davis Veterinary Medicine. Yet peer-reviewed studies of whether weighted blankets in particular can lower anxiety in humans have yielded mixed results, Lilly points out, and she doesn’t know of any that have examined them in dogs. A handful have looked at Anxiety Wrap and ThunderShirt pressure wraps, though. “In these studies, some dogs show some reduction in anxiety based on measurements of heart rate or anxiety scores,” Stelow says.

But Lilly notes that some of the studies that showed pressure wraps to have an effect lacked a control group, or a group of dogs that didn’t wear them, which would’ve allowed researchers to definitively conclude that the wrap, not other variables, was responsible for the improvements they saw. These studies often relied on owner reports of their puppers’ anxiety, but self-reports aren’t terribly reliable. After all, when people sign up for studies, they often want and expect the intervention to work, which could bias their reports, Lilly says.

Not unlike weighted blankets, anxiety gear is useful mainly as a complement to interventions like medication. It’s fine to try to treat mild anxiety with pressure wraps and the like, but “if those things are not sufficient, owners should seek the help of their veterinarian, as medications may be necessary,” Stelow tells Mic. “Moderate-to-severe anxiety usually requires medication to alleviate the emotional pain the pet is experiencing. The role of wraps or blankets in these cases would be a supporting one.”

If you’re considering anxiety gear for your very good, but very nervous, boy or girl, Lilly suggests keeping their coping mechanisms in mind. Anxiety gear might comfort your dog if they seek small spaces when they’re scared, say, by burrowing into your lap, digging into their crate, or hiding behind the sofa. But if they tend to cope by going apeshit, then you might want to skip the anxiety gear. Sure, it might lower their activity level, but their cortisol and heart rate might still be through the roof, in which case it would essentially amount to a paralyzing, full-body bandage, Lilly says (which sounds terrifying, and a bit cruel).

If you think anxiety gear makes sense for your pupper, and you want to test out a weighted blanket on them, scale the blanket’s size and weight accordingly. Your dog should still be able to climb out from beneath it. “Because these are human products, it’s possible there is no weighted blanket safe for a very small dog,” Stelow says.

A pressure wrap like the ThunderShirt or Anxiety Wrap is safe if it fits well, and your dog is cool with wearing it, which is to say, not frozen stiff or panicking, she adds. But Lilly says they’re probably not a good idea if you have a squishy-faced dog like a pug, English Bulldog, or Boston Terrier — breeds that aren’t good at regulating their body temperature. A pressure wrap, which is made with a fair amount if fabric, would increase their heat retention and make them prone to heat stroke.

As a general rule, if you dress your dog in a pressure wrap, you’ll want to supervise them and make sure their thermal needs are met. But that’s especially the case if they have poor thermoregulation — meaning that leaving your English Bulldog home alone in a ThunderShirt because you think it’ll soothe their separation anxiety “is one too many risks to take,” Lilly says. She adds that your dog might also find a pressure wrap uncomfortable if they’re particularly wrinkly (youre welcome for that cute ).

For your first anxiety gear test run, Stelow suggests borrowing the gear from a friend, in case your dog isn’t into it, or it has no effect. And importantly, try it without a stressor first, that is, before a thunderstorm hits; “they should still be willing to do fun, positive things,” not turn into a statue, Lilly says. Like many human wellness products, anxiety gear isn’t a panacea, but it can help, depending on your fur baby’s unique needs.

Are Weighted Blankets Safe for Dogs and Cats to Sleep Under?

Did you catch that part about choosing a weighted blanket that’s about 10 percent of your body weight? That’s super important, especially when we start talking about using a weighted blanket with dogs or cats around.

Though not that heavy for us humans, our weighted blankets can feel like a Goliath weight on top of our tiny fur friends. The biggest issue that occurs when a cat or dog sleeps under one is that it could end up being too heavy for them to easily get up or move around.

“Some dogs may panic underneath the blanket and this can cause a heightened sense of stress,” warns Dr. Tori Countner, DVM, founder of Balanced Pet Vet in San Diego, California. “Additionally, in cats, small dogs, older dogs or dogs with underlying respiratory conditions, the weighted blanket may be too heavy and can cause respiratory distress.”

Similar to the weighted blanket recommendation for us humans, any blanket or weighted product your pet sleeps beneath should be less than 10 percent of their body weight. So, for example, a 10-pound cat shouldn’t be under more than one pound, and a 20-pound pup should only curl up under a blanket that’s two pounds or less.

So, your 18-pound weighted blanket? That might not be the best bedding for your kitten or petite pup!

Another thing about human weighted blankets is that most are made with tiny beads to give them their heft. This could pose a choking risk to pets.

“If your dog is a chewer, or tends to chew and destroy things when anxious, they could easily swallow the beads,” says Dr. Countner. “Ingestion of the beads or part of the blanket can become a medical emergency due to blockage in the GI tract, so be wary.”

You don’t have to get rid of your weighted blanket if you have a cat or dog, but do be mindful about the way you use it. If your pet sleeps in bed with you, make sure they’re sleeping on top of the weighted blanket and not underneath it. And when you’re not using the blanket, keep it out of your pet’s reach to prevent chewing (especially if it’s beaded).

Are Weighted Blankets Safe For Pets?

You can use a weighted blanket with your pet, but if you have a small-to-mid-sized dog or a cat be careful not to let your fur baby bury itself under the blanket alone or unsupervised. It could be too much weight for them to absorb on their own.

Otherwise, weighted blankets can be an excellent way to help relieve their anxiety, just as it can be for us. Known to increase serotonin and decrease cortisol, they provide instant relaxation that’s both physical and mental. Of course, the use of one will depend on the symptoms your pet is showing and the root of their anxiety.

Calms body & mind for deeper sleep

If your dog struggles with anxiety, especially during loud or unfamiliar situations, try using a weighted blanket to comfort him. A weighted blanket is relatively cheap and easy to use, and you will not have to worry about putting unnatural medications in your pet’s body. Just be sure to pick a blanket that is non-toxic and the proper weight. Then introduce the blanket to him slowly until he gets used to it. Soon, both you and your pup should feel more relaxed.

Hiring a trainer to help your dog cope with his anxiety is also expensive. Ignoring the problem or hoping it will go away on its own is pricey, as well. After all, an anxious dog often scratches floors, chews furniture, rips clothes or urinates on rugs. A weighted blanket is cheap compared to the cost of replacing damaged items in your home.

You have probably seen weighted blankets that are meant to calm you down. These products are designed to mimic the calming feeling of a hug. Research shows that the deep touch pressure a person feels when being squeezed or hugged boosts the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which helps control rest and digestion.

There are many different benefits of weighted blankets. For starters, this type of blanket is a simple way to relieve your dog’s anxiety, and to address any unruly actions that accompany it. Your dog may bark incessantly or run throughout your house when he hears thunder or fireworks outside. Training him to stop this behavior takes time and effort. A blanket is a much easier solution. All you have to do is wrap it around him and watch it work.

Choosing the right weighted blanket for your dog is vital. Overly heavy blankets can be difficult to use, so find one that is no more than 10 percent of your puppy’s weight. The blanket should also not contain any toxic materials. Once you bring the blanket home, your dog may not enjoy the sensation of it immediately. Sit with him and gently keep him under the blanket until you see him relax.


Is it safe for dogs to be under weighted blankets?

When it comes to calming down The Fast and the FURRIEST, weighted blankets can be quite effective and appropriate for your pet, so long as you’re under the blanket with him or her and absorbing the majority of the weight. This is especially true for cats and smaller dogs.

Can a dog sleep on top of a weighted blanket?

You don’t have to get rid of your weighted blanket if you have a cat or dog, but do be mindful about the way you use it. If your pet sleeps in bed with you, make sure they’re sleeping on top of the weighted blanket and not underneath it.

How heavy should a weighted blanket be for a dog?

The best weighted blanket for your dog is one that weighs no more than 10 percent of their body weight, just like those for humans. If your pup weighs 40 pounds, for instance, pick a blanket that weighs four pounds or less.