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Weighted blankets have exploded in popularity over the last few years, praised for their ability to help ease stress and anxiety. It’s no surprise they’ve started trending for dogs too—but are weighted blankets really good for dogs? Do they have the same effect on pups as on humans? And what about safety? We ask the experts.
How Weighted Blankets Work
Often filled with heavy materials like glass beads, weighted blankets range from mild to hefty—sometimes weighing more than 30 pounds. The theory behind these blankets is that the extra weight adds soothing pressure, which helps ease the body into a state of rest and relaxation. For humans, this calming pressure is believed to particularly help with sleep disorders, anxiety, attention deficit disorders, and overstimulation.
Because weighted blankets are fairly new, there isn’t a lot of scientific research yet to conclusively prove these claims. However, early results are promising. Two recent studies found that weighted blankets are effective in reducing anxiety—or at least the experience of anxiety—in some humans. The anecdotal evidence is even stronger. If you know anyone who uses a weighted blanket regularly, chances are that they can’t say enough about how great it is.
But what about our anxious canine friends—can weighted dog blankets help manage their anxiety? And, more importantly, do dogs even like them?
Are Weighted Blankets Good for Dogs? What the Experts Say
Erika Barnes is a canine behavioralist, nutritional specialist, dog trainer, and the founder and CEO of PetSmitten. She’s also a believer in the benefits of weighted blankets for dogs. “The extra compression that comes from sleeping under a weighted blanket is a great way for humans to feel more relaxed in bed, and the same is true for most dogs. It’s that added feeling of security that comes from a weighted blanket.”
Dr. Linda Simon, a veterinary surgeon and consultant for the website FiveBarks, adds that these benefits are based on science. “This is in some ways similar to the ‘Temple Grandin’ method,” she explains, referencing the famed animal behaviorist who developed the “squeeze machine” to soothe humans with deep pressure techniques.
“The developer got the idea when witnessing cattle calm down while squeezed into chutes on farms. With a weighted blanket, the nervous system relaxes, and the dog is potentially more able to cope with what’s happening around them,” Dr. Simon explains.
She admits that weighted blankets aren’t a particularly popular choice among her patients. However, she says that some pet parents have successfully used them to calm their dogs during stressful events like thunderstorms or fireworks. Weighted blankets are often used alongside calming supplements or diffusers for a multi-pronged approach.
When Weighted Blankets Can Help—and When They Might Cause Harm
Sal Malden, a dog parent and editor of Dog Food Point, saw firsthand how weighted blankets can effectively manage acute stress during his time volunteering at rescues and shelters. “I saw many anxious dogs, especially dogs who had to spend their first night in the shelter,” he said. “We often used weighted blankets.”
Malden observed that the blankets were most effective when the staff and volunteers would actively work to calm a dog down while placing the blanket on them. “After that, you could leave the blanket on the whole night, and the dog would remain calm and quiet.”
But not every dog will respond well to weighted blankets, nor are they safe for every pet. Dogs with respiratory problems (common with flat-faced breeds like Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs) should never be put under a weighted blanket.
Dr. Simon cautions pet parents against using weighted blankets for puppies or dogs experiencing joint pain or illness. She also notes that the weight of the blankets can cause discomfort and even bruising in some skinnier breeds like Greyhounds, especially if used on a hard surface.
For super chewers, the heavy filling may also pose a problem. “If your dog chews blankets, be aware that the beads inside could pose a choking hazard or could lead to a gut obstruction,” says Dr. Simon. “It’s best to steer clear of this blanket type if there’s a chance your dog will chew it up.”
Personality is another factor. “Young, active dogs tend not to react as well to weighted blankets in my experience,” says Barnes. “If your dog finds it more difficult to move while under a blanket, it could cause them even more anxiety or stress than they were already experiencing.”
Still, Barnes says that shouldn’t deter a pet parent from trying a weighted blanket. “There’s only a risk of your dog feeling stressed for a few seconds, so the general benefits of using weighted blankets for your dogs outweigh the potential negatives, for sure.”
Finding the Right Weighted Blanket for Your Dog
If you decide to try a weighted blanket for your dog, the first thing to determine is the appropriate weight. Both Malden and Dr. Simon recommend getting a blanket that weighs about 10% of your dog’s total body weight. For example, the Buddy Rest Soothe Weighted Dog Blanket ranges from three pounds for the medium size to five pounds for the large and eight pounds for the extra-large. According to the general rule of thumb, the blankets would be best suited for dogs ranging from 30 to 80 pounds (or heavier).
Size is another important factor when picking out a weighted dog blanket. Malden says that covering a dog’s head with a weighted blanket tends to make them more upset. You don’t want the dog to get “lost” in the folds of an oversized blanket either, as that may cause additional distress. Offering three different sizes, the Nappy Puppy Weighted Dog Blanket provides varying lengths, so you can find the right one for your pup.
Malden also recommends finding a blanket made of non-toxic, dog-safe materials. This is especially important if your dog tends to nibble on their bedding when they’re stressed. While technically designed for humans, the Luna Weighted Blanket comes in a variety of sizes, colors, patterns, and weights. The child- and twin-sized options tend to work well for medium to large dogs. Plus, they’re made of Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and filled with non-toxic glass beads.
The Final Verdict: Are Weighted Blankets Good for Dogs?
According to the experts and our research, weighted blankets can be safe—and even effective—for many dogs. The key is to carefully select a blanket with an appropriate weight, size, and materials.
In particular, we think weighted blankets may help dogs with anxiety who:
- Don’t mind being covered or swaddled
- Aren’t heavy chewers
- Benefit from a range of anxiety-reducing techniques
Weighted blankets, however, might not be the best fit for:
- Dogs with breathing problems and other illnesses
- Puppies and very small adult dogs
- High-energy, active dogs who don’t like being covered or swaddled
- Chewers who are likely to destroy their bedding (and release the weighted filling)
If a weighted blanket doesn’t work for your dog, Dr. Simon suggests using a pressure wrap like the Thundershirt. Designed with the same principles in mind, the Thundershirt applies even pressure around the chest to calm a dog without restricting movement.
How We Chose
The weighted dog blankets included here were selected based on a combination of our own hands-on testing, a comprehensive look at customer reviews, and the advice received from our consulted experts. We prioritized products that offered an appropriate weight and size range for most dogs, as well as those made from non-toxic, dog-friendly materials. We also considered what our own dogs would like. After all, we are strongly guided by the experience of living and playing alongside these much-loved and very opinionated pets.