There's nothing worse than coming home after a long day of work to find your dog in an anxious state. They might be shaking or panting, and it can be difficult to settle them down. Canine anxiety is a serious concern for many pup owners. It can cause behavioral problems, prevent normal functioning in the home, and even lead to destructive habits. Canine parents often look for ways to help their furkid feel calm. One method that more dog owners have used lately is weighted blankets. These blankets provide gentle pressure on the pet's body which helps them feel safe and secure. Let's look at how these blankets work, as well as what you should look for in a weighted blanket for your stressed pup.

A small breed dog lies under a blanket.

What is a weighted blanket?

Weighted blankets are a safe, affordable alternative for people who suffer from chronic aches and pain. The soft and comforting device provides relief to individuals with muscle soreness, chronic pain, or an array of other ailments. The weight distribution across the body provides similar benefits typically found with deep pressure therapy (DPT). The DPT is a gentle type of massage, similar to a hug. This therapy, also called sensory integration, helps calm the central nervous system and promote relaxation.

Using this tool is an easy way to reduce stress. This comforter has tiny beads or glass stones that provide gentle weight. Studies show that an anxiety blanket is perfect for tackling insomnia, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

The heavier blanket encourages the release of serotonin, a natural hormone that helps with these disorders. While these studies have proven weighted blankets effective for people, can they provide the same benefits for dogs?

A dog sleeps under a blanket.

Canine anxiety and weighted blankets

Using weighted blankets to soothe and calm a person is well-documented, but it's also true for some pets. Many pet parents have found that their dogs benefit from a weighted wrap. In particular, many pups suffering from various stressors benefit from the deep pressure therapy provided by a weighted blanket for dogs. Canines with a stress disorder have specific symptoms like decreased appetite, increased destructive behaviors, isolation, lethargy, and an abnormal increase in sleeping hours. Here are the most common stressful situations for dogs where an anti-anxiety covering may come in handy.

Loud noise

Loud noise, such as fireworks, thunderstorms, motorcycles, and even household appliances like vacuums, can trigger a dog's anxiety. A weighted blanket can be a calming and nurturing source for those pups who are sound sensitive. The covering works just like how a dog's ancestor would nestle into its cozy den during the winter. Since the blanket stimulates the production and release of serotonin into the body, it naturally soothes the nerves to reduce anxiety. Keep the wrap in a spot your dog finds comfortable, which may be his bed or yours.

A puggle naps under a blanket.

Separation anxiety

Being unhappy due to separation from the family is an all too common condition in canines. This disorder occurs because the dog fears abandonment when the pet parent leaves them alone for some time. Symptoms include a clingy dog who barks excessively when you're not around; who tries to chew or destroy things while at home alone; who paces around the house and who digs at upholstery fabrics. A weighted blanket can be an easy way to help a dog's body feel calmer without increasing a pet's stress levels. The deep and consistent pressure that mimics DPT makes the dog feel more secure, safe and protected. The dog also has more control over themselves and can quickly get out from under the covers whenever they want.

Traveling and moving

Some dogs experience stress when they are traveling in car rides or airplanes or if they are moving from one residence to another. Many canines associate traveling with motion sickness, going to the veterinary clinic or being exposed to loud mufflers, horns, and traffic sounds. A weighted covering can help your dog endure these events without having an anxiety attack. While an anti-anxiety vest for canines can also reduce stressors, if your dog wants to get out of it, they can't without your help. The dog can easily slip out from underneath it with this kind of blanket when ready.

A dog peeks out from underneath a blanket.

Is a weighted blanket safe for dogs?

The answer is yes for dogs who have anxiety and are comfortable with a covering on them, but only if you purchase a weighted blanket designed exclusively for pets. Human weighted blankets are unsafe for dogs, especially small dogs, and are likely to be too heavy and warm for canines. Remember, it's always smart to ask for veterinary advice before purchasing a covering for your dog.

Some pups prefer to sleep under blankets or bedding items covered in light cloth material. Others seek out beds made of heavier canvas-like fabrics for their napping time. Then some dogs won't tolerate a covering at all; in fact, these dogs may experience even more upset if they can't get out from underneath the blanket.

A Yorkie lies under a blanket.

That's why the type and weight of the blanket must be appropriate for your dog's size. A dog with a wrap needs to be able to wriggle out from it without issue. Veterinarians recommend pet-weighted blankets with a heaviness of 10% of a dog's body weight. For example, if your dog weighs 40 pounds, find a blanket that is no heavier than four pounds.

Some pups for whom a weighted covering for dogs is not appropriate. If your dog is in these categories, avoid using a cover on them:

Brachycephalic breeds

Short-nosed breeds such as French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers may have difficulty breathing even under normal conditions because of the shape of their face. These dogs are not well suited for weighted blanket use. The extra weight from the covering could further impede breathing ability. Additionally, these breeds have unique nasal flares, which tend to overheat and cause the dog to experience respiratory issues. This kind of tool would only make those issues worse.

Dogs who love to chew

Suppose your dog's favorite hobby is chewing all fabric materials in your house. In that case, the weighted blanket is not a viable option. Weighted blankets contain non-toxic PVC pellets, glass beads, or plastic with sand texture. While they may not pose a threat to your dog's life, if they chew on these blankets, they may ingest some of the material within and become sick. For some dogs, those materials can be a choking hazard or, if enough is ingested, result in an intestinal blockage. It's better to be safe than sorry, so if your chewer has anxiety, you may want to explore other means to address it.

Dogs with certain skin conditions

Dog with ongoing skin problems such as contact dermatitis, sensitive skin, or allergies should not use this blanket. The pressure of the blanket's weight could cause friction and rub against their irritated skin, leading to more irritation and pain.

Not sure if a weighted covering is suitable for your furkid? Speak with your veterinarian for advice and guidance.

A Retriever sleeps under a blanket.

Cover your dog in more ways than one.

A weighted blanket may help your anxious dog feel better, and a pet insurance policy is guaranteed to make you feel secure, too. Make sure that no matter what you and your dog face together, that you have a pet health insurance plan that's got your back. Pet Insurance Review provides the best and fastest quotes from multiple providers so you can find the one that works best for you and your dog. Get your free quote today, so your dog is fully covered.

References:

1. Cain, E. (2021). Dog Meds 101: Trazodone for Dogs. Retrieved from https://www.petinsurancereview.com/blog/dog-meds-101-trazodone-dogs

2. Fong, R. (2021). Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). Retrieved from https://www.servicedogtrainingschool.org/blog/deep-pressure-therapy

3. Ford-Lanza, A. (2019). The Ultimate Guide to Deep Pressure Therapy. Retrieved from https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/deep-pressure-therapy

4. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2020). Study shows weighted blankets can decrease insomnia severity. Retrieved from https://aasm.org/study-shows-weighted-blankets-can-decrease-insomnia-severity/

5. Whelan, C. (2021). Why You Should Use a Weighted Blanket for Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/weighted-blanket-for-anxiety#benefits

6. ASPCA. (2022). Separation Anxiety. Retreived from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/separation-anxiety

7. Llera, R., Buzhardt, L. (2021). Anxiety Vests for Dogs. Retrieved from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/anxiety-vests-for-dogs