Blanket Safety for Pets

Barri J. Morrison, DVM
By Barri J. Morrison, DVM on Oct. 26, 2023
A pup sleeps in their bed with a blanket.

Snuggling with a blanket provides warmth and offers a sense of security for your pet.

They often use blankets when they are with you on the couch or in bed, as well as when they are in their happy place, whether it’s a crate or their own bed.

While most blankets are harmless for pets, there are factors to consider before allowing your pet to have a blanket all to themselves.

Key Takeaways

  • The ideal blanket for your pet should be lightweight, breathable, and not too large for the space that they are in.
  • It’s important to consider the materials used in a blanket before giving it to your pet.
  • Never give your pet a weighted blanket, and don't ever leave them alone with a heated one.

Is It Safe for Your Pet to Use a Blanket?

A blanket that is used appropriately is safe for your pet and provides them warmth and comfort.

If your pet is seemingly uncomfortable with a blanket, make sure they are in a space where they have an option to not use it, either by having it removed or by being able to move away from it. Ensure that your pet does not get entangled in a blanket, as that can become a serious safety hazard.

Puppies and kittens should be monitored very closely to ensure that they are not chewing the blanket and swallowing strings or fragments from it, as these can cause an intestinal obstruction.

The ideal blanket for your pet should be lightweight, breathable, and not too large for the space that they are in.

Do Pets Need Blankets?

Pets who are older or young and growing, with less muscle mass to keep them warm, might benefit from a blanket while being supervised.

Pets who have anxiety might benefit from using a blanket for comfort’s sake.

Not all pets need a blanket for warmth and comfort. Some prefer a plush, comfy bed instead, which might also be less hazardous. Another alternative to a blanket would be a coat or jacket designed for pets.

It’s important not to offer your pet a heavily used blanket, as they can shred or rip more easily, which can be harmful if your pet ingests part of it or if their limbs get tangled up in it.

If a limb gets stuck and your pet panics, they can get seriously injured, especially if they are in a place they try to escape from, such as a high bed or couch.

Jumping off these surfaces entangled in a blanket can cause skin wounds, sprains, strained muscles, or broken bones.

A blanket used inappropriately or not under direct supervision can even lead to death by suffocation.

What Kinds of Blankets Can Pets Have?

It’s important to consider the materials used in a blanket before giving it to your pet. Some materials can be itchy, such as wool, and cause your dog to develop skin sores from scratching.

Blankets made of microfiber or fleece are more difficult for a pet to rip or shed, and are better to use in a situation where your pet might be alone with the blanket.

It’s also important to consider what you wash the blanket in, because some detergents can be irritating to the skin of your pets or cause an allergic reaction.

While weighted blankets might help with human anxiety, never use a weighted blanket for your pets. Pets are much smaller than people and can get trapped, tangled, and injured very quickly with the added weight on them.

In addition, heated blankets should never be used when a pet is alone or not being directly supervised. They should particularly never be used in breeds of dogs and cats that are sensitive to changes in temperature, such as brachycephalic breeds like English Bulldogs or Persian cats.

The cords from an electric or heated blanket are also a potential hazard around your pets.

If your pets chew on an electrical cord it can cause a chemical burn in the mouth, as well as electrocution or noncardiogenic pulmonary edema (fluid-filled lungs that make breathing difficult and can cause death).

It’s also important to make sure all blankets are removed and washed regularly.

Bacteria thrive in warm, wet, dirty environments, and if they reside on your pet’s blanket, they can make your pet very sick.

Blanket Safety Tips

Here are a few tips and reminders to keep your pet safe when using a blanket.

  • Don’t use a blanket with loose threading, as it is easy to shred or tear and parts of it could be ingested by your pet.

  • Never use a heated or electric blanket without constant, direct supervision.

  • Ensure your pet is not getting overheated; watch for signs of discomfort.

  • Always ensure your pet can get away from the blanket if they choose, especially if they are confined in a crate or similar space.

  • Never use a space heater near your pet, especially with a blanket, as it poses a fire safety hazard.

  • Purchase blankets with breathable materials to avoid suffocation risks.

  • Avoid blankets with tassels or fringe, which can lead to foreign body obstructions or choking hazards.

  • Avoid fuzzy materials or thick fibers that might tempt your pet to chew or suck on them.

  • Puppies and kittens need more supervision with blankets than adult pets.

  • Most blankets should be used indoors, as outdoor use in cold weather can make your pet more susceptible to the cold and may not be as helpful as you think.

Just as you would be cautious with blankets for babies and children, use the same common sense when deciding if your pet should have a blanket.

In many cases, a comfy pet bed is a better option to avoid potential negative effects on your pet.

Blanket Safety for Pets FAQs

Do dogs need blankets in the summer?

Dogs don’t need a blanket at any time if you provide other sources of warmth and comfort.

In the summertime, a light, breathable blanket might be useful, but it’s not necessary. A fluffy pet bed makes a great alternative.

Dogs, like people, can thermoregulate, which means their body temperature will adapt to their surroundings; thus, a blanket is never needed.

Should I cover my dog’s crate with a blanket at night?

While covering your dog’s crate with a blanket might be helpful to calm them down and provide a more natural “den-like” environment, it can come with some risk.

Dogs who are very hyper in the crate or have anxiety might be tempted to pull the blanket into the crate and then destroy it, possibly ingesting some of the fabric.

An alternative to a blanket for covering the crate would be a crate cover designed for this purpose.

My dog likes to sleep under the covers. Can he breathe?

If your dog likes to sleep under the covers, make sure the blanket is lightweight and made of breathable material to avoid causing any harm.

Ensure they always have enough room to come out from under the cover without getting injured.

Featured Image: Evrymmnt/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Barri J. Morrison, DVM


Barri J. Morrison, DVM


Barri Morrison was born and raised and currently resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She went to University of Florida for her...

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