Does your dog pace, whine, and cower whenever he hears noises he doesn’t like? Maybe you’ve noticed your dog seems anxious when new people visit the house or he has to get in the car.
Most pet owners never dreamed they’d have to help their dog deal with anxiety. But the task isn’t as daunting as it sounds. In fact, dog owners can use some of the same therapies used on humans.
Weighted blankets can be crucial part of helping your dog cope with anxiety. Here’s our full guide to finding the best weighted blankets for dogs.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
Weighted blankets are filled with a material heavy enough to add significant weight to the blanket. Adding the weight allows the blanket to create deep touch pressure (DTP) as part of Deep Pressure Therapy, which occupational therapists use to simulate a holding or hugging feeling.
Wearing a weighted blanket applies pressure to the body, and it’s a therapy used by occupational therapists when working with people who suffer from high levels of anxiety as a part of coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), autism, or general anxiety disorder.
How Can It Benefit My Dog?
Have you ever noticed that your dog retreats from certain sounds? Maybe he doesn’t like fireworks (few dogs do), but he exhibits a much stronger reaction to them than your friends’ dogs. Perhaps your dog finds the sound of thunder claps incredibly upsetting. Maybe your dog cowers every time U2 comes on the radio.
Just as humans deal with issues like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dogs can also suffer from these issues and have a hard time coping with sensory experiences they find traumatic.
There’s no way to know whether your dog is formally suffering from anxiety or PTSD unless you take them to the vet. But if the vet diagnoses your dog with something like this, then a weighted blanket may be part of the protocol for calming them down.
Weighted blankets are used to help humans relax. The pressure exhibited by the blanket encourages the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which in turn helps the nervous system relax and allows them to calm down.
Dogs also benefit from the same therapy, and it may come into a vest, Thundershirt, or blanket form.
Weighted Blankets vs. Thunder Shirts & Weighted Vests
There are three primary types of sensory aids available for dogs – weighted blankets, weighted vests, and shirts like the Thundershirt.
Each of these three options can provide benefits for dogs who struggle with anxiety, but each has different uses.
A vest or a shirt is useful for wear when you’re able to anticipate a stressor, like a long car ride or the Fourth of July fireworks. But you can’t always anticipate the things that will cause your dog anxiety and fitting their shirt or vest can be difficult if they’re already wound up.
A weighted blanket is a great sensory aid to have around in emergency situations. It’s also ideal for situations where the only person around to care for the dog is as someone the dog doesn’t know or who he has issues with (i.e. if the dog is afraid of men) because it allows them to drape them in a blanket without having to hug or grab them, which could only alarm the dog further.
Weighted blankets are also ideal for dogs of all sizes and they can simply shake them off when they’re feeling better, which prevents them from wearing them all day and possibly finding the vest rubs their skin the wrong way.
How to Choose a Weighted Blanket for Your Dog
Weighted blankets come in many sizes, and it’s important to choose the right one to get the full effect.
Just as in humans, the best option for your dog is one that weighs approximately 10% of his body weight. So, a 100-pound dog may be best suited by a 10-pound blanket, but a heavy blanket would not be suitable for a 40-pound dog.
Keep in mind that some dogs may not like such heavy blankets, so be sure to observe them using it to understand how they react.
It’s also a good idea to choose a blanket that is machine washable. Heavier blankets tend to be harder for home washing machines to handle, so be wary of whether you have access to a laundromat before making a purchase.
Top Picks: The Best Weighted Blanket for Dogs
Finding the top weighted blanket for dogs may involve finding a blanket made for humans instead because the options designed specifically for dogs are limited in availability.
However, there’s no reason you can’t use a weighted blanket designed for humans for your dog. Often, kids’ weighted blankets are a good size for dogs because they are smaller, easier to transport, and are the right weight for most dogs. They’ll also often come with removable covers, which makes them easy to clean.
Huggaroo Weighted Blanket
The Huggaroo weighted blanket is a kids’ blanket for kids who weigh between 40 and 80 pounds, but it can also be used for dogs as well.
This blanket is an ideal model to transfer over to pet use for a few reasons. First, the dimensions are 36” x 48”, so you’re not draping a full-size duvet over your dog. Second, both the cover and the weighted blanket are machine washable, which is essential because dog blankets need extra washing. However, while you can put it in the dryer, it’s often better to let the blanket air dry.
Another good reason to buy this blanket for your dog is that the cover and the blanket are held together internally using ties. These ties keep the blanket uniform within the cover, which means the weight remains evenly distributed. This design feature is simple, but it can take the stress out of calming down an anxious dog because it will keep everything together even when a dog is kicking or shaking.
Finally, it’s covered in a chenille cover, which hides the fact that it’s a therapy blanket and instead makes it look like just another through, albeit one your dog uses.
Hiseeme Mini Sensory Weighted Blanket
This Hiseeme weighted blanket is another small kids’ weighted blanket that would carry over well for use in dogs. It’s 36” x 48” and weighs 5 pounds; though, it’s also available in a larger size at 41” x 60” and weighing 10 pounds.
The Hiseeme blanket is ideal for dogs because the filling is made of non-toxic, food grade poly pellets, which means your dog will be safe even if he tears the blanket apart. The pellets are held in a 100% cotton blanket with a removable cover, making it easy to clean. Both the blanket and the outer cover are also machine washable on a gentle setting.
SensaCalm Therapeutic Small Weighted Blanket
The SensaCalm weighted blanket is a small blanket designed for use in toddler cribs or beds. Its small design allows it to cover the bed, or a dog’s bed, without being big enough to slide off. This blanket weighs 5 pounds and would best suit a 40-pound dog.
SensaCalm fills its blankets using non-toxic and hypo-allergenic poly pellets, creating an even weight distribution with a material safe for pets and kids. The fill is held in a fabric made of 100% cotton, which is easy to clean. Indeed, this blanket is also suitable for machine wash and dry.
The best feature of this blanket is that while its dimensions are small, they’re custom made to order. So, if your dog has reached adult size, you can order a blanket that’s the perfect fit for him. The dark blue color is also nice for dogs because it hides stains well.