While it may just seem like a harmless habit, there are actually some fairly concerning reasons why dog breeds will continuously chew on blankets. If you have noticed this behavior in your pup, we are here to help you get to the root cause. For some dogs, chewing on blankets is fairly harmless, even if it is a somewhat frustrating and destructive habit. However, for other pooches, the habit can be a sign of a fairly serious psychological issue.
Throughout this guide, we will explain some of the most common reasons why dogs chew blankets. By reading through it, you should be able to identify your dog’s particular motivation for the seemingly strange behavior. Once you have identified the cause, you should be able to come up with a plan to correct and prevent the habit!
The Main Reasons Why Dogs Chew and Nibble Blankets
To make identifying the root cause for the behavior as straightforward as possible, we are going to list all of the most common reasons why dogs nibble and chew blankets. To narrow down the exact reason why your particular pooch may be compulsive nibbling, pay attention to when the dog nibbles blankets, as well as other behaviors they exhibit!
1. The Dog is Feeling Stressed and Anxious
Just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety. Since they cannot simply explain their feelings in words, they often display their stress and anxiety through various behaviors. Unfortunately, one of the ways dogs express their feelings is to chew various objects, including blankets, clothing, towels, and other fabrics, including chewing their dog beds.
Chewing these soft and squishy objects can be a way that dogs attempt to relieve their stress and anxiety. Just like a toddler with a comfort blanket, your dog might be chewing his or her blanket to feel better.
We’ve also reviewed the Best Dog Beds for Dogs that Chew.
How Do You Know if This Is the Reason Why Your Dog Is Nibbling Blankets?
The timing of when your dog chews blankets will tell you a lot about the root cause. For most dogs, stress and anxiety result from major environmental changes, such as moving to a new house or being adopted by a new family.
Stress and anxiety can also result from a fear of abandonment, which veterinarians refer to as “separation anxiety.” If you notice that your dog chews blankets or other objects whenever they are left alone, the chewing behavior could be a clear sign they are experiencing a fear of abandonment.
Other fear triggers, such as loud noises, the presence of strangers in the home, and even the introduction of a new pet, can all lead dogs to chew various objects, including blankets.
Other Signs to Look Out For
If your dog is chewing and nibbling blankets as a reaction to anxiety and stress, they may also display the following signs alongside this behavior:
- Chronic yawning
- Licking a particular body part or patch of fur
- Decreased appetite
- Increased vocalizations (barking, whining, howling)
If you suspect that your dog is nibbling blankets because they are experiencing chronic stress and anxiety, speak with a veterinarian about your options.
2. Your Dog is Experiencing Physical Pain
Physical pain can be another reason why dogs will suddenly start chewing objects in their environment, including blankets. Typically, this occurs at a younger age, as puppies that are teething will chew on soft objects, like blankets and towels, as it can help ease some of the pain they are experiencing.
Your dog could also have an injury and chewing an old blanket may comfort them and help decrease the sensation of physical pain.
How to Identify if Pain Is the Reason Why Your Dog Is Chewing Blankets
If your puppy suddenly started chewing blankets and you notice that they have teeth emerging, it is almost certainly a reaction to teething pain. If this is the case, it is nothing to be alarmed about. You can help the puppy manage his or her pain by offering a frozen chew toy or a wet cloth.
If you are dealing with an adult dog, visually inspect their mouth and look for obvious signs of injury and pain, such as a chipped or damaged tooth. If you cannot locate any cause and the behavior continues, you may want to take your pooch to visit a veterinarian for a physical exam. Remember, injuries and illness are always easier to treat if they are identified early!
3. Your Dog Was Weaned Prematurely
A common explanation for why a dog will chew, lick, and nibble blankets is premature weaning, which means they were removed from their mothers too early. Ideally, a puppy will stay with his or her mother for at least eight weeks, but in some cases, a puppy is separated much earlier.
When premature weaning occurs, many puppies will behave in seemingly unusual ways. Since the puppy’s natural instinct is to suckle from their mother, they may chew and suck on soft objects they find in their environment, including soft blankets.
Fortunately, this behavior is not dangerous, but you may want to speak with a veterinarian or a canine behaviorist about what you can do to help your dog adjust to life without his or her mother. With that being said, offering plenty of love and attention is one of the best things you can do for your new furry friend.
4. Your Dog Is Simply Feeling Bored or Hungry
While the above-mentioned causes for blanket chewing may seem fairly serious, there are also some harmless reasons. For example, many dogs, especially when they are just puppies, will bite, nibble, chew, and nip at objects when they are bored.
Since puppies usually have access to blankets, they are one of the most common objects they nibble and chew when they are bored. While some breeds are more destructive than others, most dogs will simply switch to nibbling a chew toy if you offer one as an alternative to their blankets.
In some cases, a dog will chew on non-food items to express their hunger. While this tends to be more common in the perpetually hungry breeds, like Beagles and Labrador Retrievers, just about any type of dog can chew blankets as a reaction to hunger.
If your dog only chews his or her blankets between feedings and when they have gone a long time without eating, there is a good chance they are simply expressing hunger.
While this may not seem like a big deal, nutrient and caloric deficiency are very serious issues, which is why it is so important to discuss an age- and breed-appropriate diet for your particular pooch with your veterinarian.
Signs Chewing and Nibbling Blankets Is Related to Hunger
If your dog’s feces has an unusual appearance, they are perpetually low on energy, and you have noticed unusual amounts of hair loss, then there is a good chance that they are not getting the calories and nutrients they require from their food. If you notice these symptoms alongside periodic blanket chewing, speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet.
Even if you are feeding your dog often, if the food they are provided with is low quality, it may lack the correct nutrient profile to meet your dog’s exact needs.
So, Is Blanket Nibbling Something You Should Be Concerned About?
As long as the dog is not able to swallow pieces of the blanket, which could lead to intestinal blockages, blanket chewing is not an overly serious issue.
As a dog owner, the most important thing to do is watch your dog for other changes in behavior, as blanket chewing could just be one of many symptoms your dog is displaying as a result of a fairly serious issue.
As long as it is just a simple habit, you should be able to teach your dog to stop chewing blankets with basic training and positive reinforcement. You may also want to consider purchasing some dog-friendly chew toys, which will give your pooch something else to chew on and play with!