Uncovering the Dangers of Dogs Under Covers

My heart dog Red loved to sleep under the covers, whether it was in bed with me or wrapped in a blanket I kept on every dog bed. Of course I kept an eye on her, but the blankets were light enough not to pose any danger, she wore a sweater in the house in the winter for extra warmth, and when she got too hot she always found her way out.

As long as the blanket is relatively light, not too big relative to his or her size, not weighed down by anything and your dog doesn’t have any serious mobility issues, there should be no danger. However, it’s probably not a good idea if you have a brachycephalic dog such as a Pug, Boxer, Shih Tzu or Boston Terrier as they typically deal with breathing problems, or one with trachea or heart issues. 

Why Dogs Sleep Under the Covers

I’m aware of the “popular” or common explanations, but I was really curious to find some scientific research. I imagine there must be some study out there somewhere, but what I consider to be my thorough research turned up nothing.

Here are the beliefs/reasons I did uncover (no pun intended!):

° If you’ve ever had an anxious or fearful dog, you may have already discovered the Thundershirt. It acts as an anxiety wrap to help soothe stressed dogs. Being under a blanket and feeling some pressure helps in much the same way. For more information, you’ll find this article helpful.

º It offers the same type of warmth and security a den would have offered their wild(er) ancestors

Some dogs may feel the cold more than others, and appreciate the extra warmth a blanket can give them

º You may have inadvertently “taught” him to do it. Did you find the sight of him covered in a blanket the cutest thing ever? Did you give him a treat or two? You may have shown him how rewarding sleeping under the covers can be!

º It’s possible there’s something about his sleeping area he doesn’t like or fears, so he’d rather burrow under your or his blanket

º A dog that is experiencing separation anxiety when home alone, may find comfort in burying himself under his blanket. If you notice his behavior could be the result of separation anxiety, it’s important to address that as soon as possible

Please read this ⇒ “Here’s How a Dog Trainer Can Help With Separation Anxiety

º Many dogs love the companionship that comes with snuggling under the blankets with their dog mom and/or dad

Uncovering the Dangers of Dogs Under Covers

Dog Breeds That Like to Sleep Under the Covers

Some dogs have been bred to burrow, so it should come as no surprise if yours likes a cuddle under the covers.

Dachshunds, for example, were bred to hunt badgers, rabbits and other small creatures that live underground. Siberian Huskies might dig to find a warm place underground in the winter, and a cool one in the summer.

That doesn’t mean these breeds will always sleep under the covers, or dogs with other DNA won’t.

Is it Safe for a Dog to Sleep Under the Covers?

  • Generally speaking it is safe, but let’s look at some precautions we can all take:
  • Make sure the blanket is not wrapped tightly around them
  • Loose and light enough to get out from under it
  • A good size for your dog. For example, if you have a 5lb dog, you don’t want to buy a blanket big enough to cover one that’s 80lb. Something that size could be difficult for yours to crawl out of
  • Consider the weight of the blanket you’ll be using for your dog. Is it a comforting weighted one you use?
  • If you’re concerned, once you notice your dog is asleep move it so his head or nose is poking through

NOTE: Be sure to check that blanket before you sit on it, and pile of laundry before you walk on it. Your much loved four-legged friend could be hiding inside! Be sure to make that a rule and pass it on to the kids in the house as well as visitors.

When Is It NOT Safe for a Dog to Sleep Under the Covers?

Brachycephalic dogs: These dogs are short nosed and flat faced and breathing problems are common. Boxers, Pugs, Pekingese, Shih Tzus and Boston Terriers all fall into this category. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome refers to upper airway abnormalities that affects these breeds. It’s a good idea to get your vet’s opinion about the safety of your dog sleeping under a blanket.

Senior dog with mobility issues: If your dog has severe arthritis, spinal issues or is paralysed, a small light blanket should be okay as long as you can check on him. Alternatively, a well fitted sweater and a self-warming bed away from drafts should work well.

Very young puppies: A puppy that is very young won’t have the energy to crawl out from underneath a pile of blankets.

When using a weighted blanket for humans: Just as the name suggests, this is a heavier blanket than usual filled with beads or pellets. The theory is it offers the user comfort and helps relieve anxiety. It’s great for humans but because the weight is made with a person in mind, it could be dangerous for your dog to sleep under this type of cover.

Best Material for Dog Blankets

If a blanket is safe for humans it should be safe for dogs, but you can opt to buy one specifically made for dogs.

I would avoid using a knitted or crocheted blanket, or buying one that has holes (as part of the design!). It’s too easy for your dog to get his teeth or claws caught in them and he could get stuck or hurt.

Look for something soft your dog can snuggle into, and shape the way he wants.

When it’s time to wash the blanket(s), consider using a pet safe or scent free detergent to avoid irritating your dog’s skin.

Best Rated Dog Blankets

There are so many uses for a dog blanket:

  • cover your couch
  • protect the car’s interior
  • put on the bottom of a crate or carrier
  • foot of the bed for your dog to sleep on

Since this article is specifically about dogs that sleep under the covers, we’re going to look at blankets appropriate for your dog to snuggle under.

It’s not necessary to buy a blanket specifically made for a dog, I certainly don’t. I buy whatever I like as long as I know it will be safe for my dog. If you feel more comfortable buying a blanket made for pets, here are four for you to consider.

American Kennel Club Animal Print Fleece Dog & Cat Blanket

My dogs have always loved fleece, so I wanted to highlight this particular blanket. Weighing just 1lb, it comes in 3 different animal prints and is machine washable.

Comsmart Paw Print Blanket

Weighing just 4oz it’s perfect for dogs of all ages. It comes as a pack of 6 and is available in 3 different sizes. The variety of colors (black, brown, blue, grey, red and white) means it will fit in to any décor.

PetFusion Quilted Pet Blanket

Easy to wash and dry, pet hair doesn’t stick to the blanket. It also comes in 4 sizes so you should find one to suit your dog.

Best Friends by Sheri Shag Dog Blanket

Super comfy faux fur, this 1lb blanket is machine washable, dryer friendly, available in 2 sizes and comes in a neutral tone so it suits any color scheme in your home.

Other Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm

Obviously diving under the covers will keep your dog nice and warm, but there are lots of other things you can do as well.

Here are some ideas:

º Make sure there’s no draft where your dog sleeps

º For dogs that really seem to feel the cold, especially senior dogs, wearing a sweater in the house in the winter will be a big help. Be sure to take it off periodically to let his skin breathe, and wash it using a mild detergent

º You may like your dog shaved pretty close in the summer months, but in the winter longer hair means more protection from the cold

º Keep your dog’s bed warm by using a heating mat, pad or hot water bottle

º Try an electric blanket. This article will give you more information to help you decide if this is a good option for you and your dog. Please read this ⇒ “Are Electric Blankets Safe for Dogs?

º If your dog spends a lot of time in the backyard during the cooler months, a dog house insulated with straw is a great idea

º Tile, concrete and hardwood floors can get cold in the winter, so either buy an elevated dog bed or put a mat, carpet squares, a towel or blanket underneath

º If you like a window open in the winter or don’t have/don’t like central heating, make sure to keep the room where your dog sleeps warm. A small heater will do, or turn the radiator on

º Consider getting your dog a new bed. If the bottom is threadbare and the stuffing as flat as a pancake, now would be a good time to buy one that will not only be more comfortable but offer some warmth as well.

Dog Beds for Cold Weather

Whether it’s self-warming, tent style or donut shape, there are plenty of beds to help keep your dog warm when the temperature outside (and in!) starts to drop. Put a blanket on top or inside for extra warmth and comfort!

Best Friends by Sheri Shag Fur Donut Cuddler

With orthopedic support and a head rest, the faux shag fur keeps your dog warm and comfortable. It’s also insulated to radiates heat back to your dog. It’s machine washable and dryer safe, it comes in 2 colors and 3 sizes so you’re bound to find the perfect one!

Pet Tent

Not only is it a great way to provide your dog with a place of his own, it will give him plenty of privacy and added warmth and protection from the cold. The polyfoam molds to the shape of your dog’s body, there is a plush pillow included and it’s made from a durable material that lasts. It can even be disassembled for travel. All parts are machine washable. Available in various sizes and fabrics.

SPOT Ethical Pets Cuddle Cave

This plush cave is another great style for the colder weather. Machine washable and holds its shape, perfect for dogs that love to burrow.

Furhaven Pet Blanket Burrow Dog Bed

This burrow bed is such a fabulous idea! It has a blanket attached for your dog to snuggle under, or it can be converted into a tented cave! It comes in a wide range of sizes and colors, it has insulating Sherpa fleece, an orthopedic foam base and is machine washable.

Does your dog love to sleep under the blankets? Have you had any safety concerns or issues? What’s his favorite type of blanket?

 

If you would like to book an appointment with an online dog trainer, or for further information about the services we offer, please visit our help page.

 

Resources

Blanket Safety for Pets

The Effect of a Pressure Wrap (ThunderShirt®) on Heart Rate and Behavior in Canines Diagnosed With Anxiety Disorder

Read This Before You Get Your Dog A Weighted Blanket 

 

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