In our advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and survey friends, call up experts, and draw on our own personal experience to answer them. As always, please email any online-shopping-related queries to [email protected] with the subject Ask the Strategist — we’re here to help.
It has come to my attention that all of my throw blankets are in a horrendous state. What would you suggest for those of us with pets that want to cuddle on the sofa, but who need something less embarrassing than the usual fleece, knits, or sherpa that tears from nails or attaches to fur like Velcro?
As a cat owner who also takes a modicum of pride in the appearance of my living space, I feel you. We all know people who have trained their pets to stay off the couch, but isn’t snuggling up with your furry friend one of the best parts of pet ownership? The downside is that pets’ shedding and scratching can leave your furniture looking a little worse for wear. We’ve covered some solutions, like the best vacuums for getting rid of pet hair and the best pet-safe cleaning products for taking care of dog- and cat-related messes, but we’ve yet to tackle the issue of pet-friendly throw blankets. To help you out, I asked some animal experts and interior designers what blankets they use and recommend. One warning: I know you asked for no fleece or sherpa blankets, but I had to include a few (they’re nice-looking ones, I promise!) because experts agree they’re often the best at hiding fur and stains, and stand up well to frequent washing.
“A little trick in the interior-design industry is to avoid natural materials when designing pet- and kid-friendly homes,” says Devin Shaffer, lead interior designer at Decorilla, an online interior-design service. They’re much easier to clean, and “with modern advancements in both materials and fabrics, style doesn’t have to be stunted.” He loves this polyester throw that features a “linenlike textured weave.”
If your main issue is fur shedding rather than scratching, Shelby Semel, senior trainer and founder of Shelby Semel Dog Training, loves this option from West Elm. “I have a white dog, so I buy the white, but I would recommend navy for a dark dog. Then the fur blends right in!” She likes that the blanket is “soft and high quality,” but inexpensive enough that she can replace it if needed.
This microfiber blanket, which looks more like a standard, solid throw than a pet blanket, came recommended by two of our experts. Kate Karam, a pet expertChewy, likes that, along with being machine washable, it’s waterproof to protect your furniture from spills and accidents. Nicole Ellis, a pet lifestyle expert and certified dog trainer with Rover, is also a fan, telling us these throws “match furniture very well” and are “soft, versatile, and look nice, too.” She also recommends Mambe’s waterproof bed blankets if you share your bed with your pet.
Grant K. Gibson, an interior designer and dog owner, understands your frustration about not being able to find a stylish throw blanket that your pets won’t destroy. “No offense to dog blankets with cute bones or details like that on them,” he says, “but for me personally, I want something maybe a bit more tasteful and that doesn’t stand out or interfere with the interior.” He recommends this quilted L.L. Bean blanket, which he tells us “can really blend into any interior, traditional or modern.”
There’s no fleece or sherpa to be found on this double-sided twill blanket, another of Ellis’s favorites. In heather gray, it would add some nice visual texture to your sofa or side chair, and since it’s also waterproof, Ellis says it’s “perfect for your pet to snuggle up on while keeping your furniture neat and clean.”
Linen is another unexpected material for a pet throw blanket, and Karam says this faux-linen version has “a semi-rustic look and feel but also reverses to soft plush faux fur.” You can have it personalized with a pet’s name — which fits in with the trend of customizable pet merch we’ve been seeing lately. And unlike real linen, you can easily machine wash and dry it, no ironing required.
The houndstooth print on this fleece blanket makes it look a bit more sophisticated than most pet blankets. Kerrie McKeon, a cat expert at the animal welfare and adoption organization Bideawee, says it’s the “perfect weight and softness for nesting,” so you won’t have to do much cajoling to get your cat or dog to sleep on it instead of your off-limits fancy chairs. Plus, it’s machine washable.
If you’re more concerned with protecting your sofa than your throw blanket, Mikel Maria Delgado, a certified applied animal behaviorist and the resident cat behavior expert at cat-food company Smalls, likes this reversible throw. “I can’t say it doesn’t attract a bit of pet hair, but I always think the point of couch throws is to keep the pet hair off the couch and on the throw,” she says. It’s waterproof and machine washable, so you can easily clean the hair off, too. In the red-and-black buffalo plaid print it looks a little Pendleton-esque.
You don’t always have to go with synthetics, as Decorist celebrity designer Noz Nozawa demonstrates with this 100 percent cotton throw that can also be tossed in the washing machine. “One of the easiest ways to hide our pets’ paw prints and dirt smudges is with patterns,” says Nozawa. Thanks to the blanket’s double-sided print and “the subtle denimish stain-hiding weave,” she says it’s an “ideal blanket for pets.”
Because they’re made from durable and easy-to-clean materials, blankets meant for babies and kids are good options when you’re living with pets, too, according to Shaffer. He says this widens your selection of throws, including ones that aren’t so obviously designed for littles ones, like this bright, geometric blanket from West Elm.
Another strategy, especially for pets who are heavy scratchers, is to look for blankets with bumpy, textural details that are better at hiding claw marks than smooth blankets. “There is an endless selection of throw blankets that already have a unique rough aesthetic so that when your pet scratches it, the damage is substantially less noticeable,” says Jing Xue, co-founder and COO of DecorMatters. She suggests these two throws, which have raised stitches and fringed edges, so they aren’t too precious.
When shopping for cotton blankets, Decorist designer Emily Johnson (who admits her golden retriever “owns the sofa”) says to look for tighter weaves that won’t snag as easily as looser, more open knits. One example is this 100 percent cotton blanket that comes in a handful of neutral fur-hiding shades. “Not only does it have a great minimal touch,” says Johnson, “but it’s also going to help protect your beloved furniture without taking away from the design.”
It’s lined with fleece, but the exterior layer of this geometric-printed blanket is 100 percent cotton canvas, which may blend in better with the rest of your décor. Karam says it has “a beautiful quilted finish,” and that “drool and fur just wash away in the laundry.”
When we asked interior designers about their favorite throw blankets for non-pet homes, we heard a lot of raves about faux-fur blankets. As it turns out, designers agree that they’re among the best for pets, too. As Decorist designer Megan Wright says, “What better way to hide fur than with fur itself?” Nozawa, who loves this Restoration Hardware blanket, tells us, “The great thing about brown and gray faux furs is that they’re already the color of dirt and dust,” so you can simply shake them off to extend the time between full cleanings. If your faux-fur blanket gets matted from your pet licking it (which Nozawa says can happen), she recommends using a dog brush to quickly smooth out any affected areas.
For a slightly more affordable pick, try this CB2 blanket, which Wright says is “sure to hide your dog’s fur and add a luxurious touch of texture to your sofa.” Sara Malek Barney, founder and principal designer at Bandd Design, likes a similar faux-fur CB2 throw. She says, “Pet hair just slides right off of it, and claws won’t make it through its thickness.”
Even though this blanket is designed for pets, it looks a lot like the faux-fur throws above. McKeon says both cats and dogs flock to this plush throw (from the maker of a Strategist-favorite dog bed). “I’ve seen as many as three or four kittens squeezing on to one, even with other cozy beds and blankets available,” she says. “It stays nice and soft even after multiple washing.”
Here’s a similar faux-fur blanket that’s also waterproof and machine washable. Semel has used these in the past before switching over to the West Elm chenille throws, and Amy Kohlbecker, senior manager of Cat World at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, says they’re the “cat-approved favorite blankets” among the sanctuary’s rescue felines.
In our general roundup of the best throw blankets, Pendleton was mentioned by several designers. As stylist Emily Henderson says, “Their plaid patterns are timeless and will never go out of style.” Wright adds that Pendleton is known for “durability and quality product” that can stand up to pets. The Oregon-based family-owned brand has been producing wool products in the Pacific Northwest since 1863 and offers a line of machine washable wool blankets that could work well for pet owners. In plaid, stripes, or solid colors, these definitely don’t look like your typical pet blankets.
Yet another washable wool option, this one’s made with sustainably sourced wool from Northern California. Karina Lameraner, a creative stylist with the online interior-design service Modsy, says it’s “designed to show light wear over time,” so a little bit of pet use will only add to its patina.
You can trust British heritage brand Barbour to make a pet blanket that’s more classy than kitschy — the company’s jackets are beloved by the queen of England and Alexa Chung alike — and this plaid throw with wool trim doesn’t disappoint. “It just looks stylish with the tartan,” says Gibson, “and it’s easy to roll up for the car or if you are going on vacation.”
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