Pet Beds Buying Guide
There are few things that dogs do better than sleep. They’re so good at it, in fact, they can doze off just about anywhere, whether that’s sprawled out across your feet or curled up in a pile of dirty laundry. Much like humans, though, dogs feel a lot better when they sleep on a comfortable surface made specifically for them. This detailed guide helps you find the ideal pet beds for your dog based on its physical traits, habits, and specific needs.
Here are a few questions to keep in mind during your search, as well as recommended styles and characteristics to look for:
What’s your dog’s sleeping style?
My dog sleeps sprawled out.
Then you’ll need to find a bed size that’ll give your pooch plenty of space to stretch its limbs. When in doubt, get a larger size. Avoid options with raised rims or edges that’ll constrain your dog to the center of the bed. A standard mat, pillow, or cushion bed are easy options.
My dog likes to curl up into a tight ball.
Dogs who curl up when they sleep don’t require as much real estate as dogs who stretch out, which should open up more options as far as bed size and style. Nest and bolster beds are a good choice, because they have raised edges that’ll feel like a warm hug to your curled-up pup.
My dog likes to rest its head on pillows or armrests.
Just like dogs who curl up, dogs who need head support will benefit from nest and bolster beds. These beds’ raised edges provide a soft, supportive surface that dogs will love to rest their furry heads on.
My dog likes to burrow.
My dog sleeps belly-up.
If your dog routinely sleeps on its back, then it’ll need a firm but soft mattress that’ll give it comfortable spine support.
Does your dog have special needs?
My dog is getting old or suffers from orthopedic issues.
Flat, ultra-supportive orthopedic pet beds are well-suited for canines with arthritis or hip dysplasia. They’re usually made of thick memory foam that’ll ease pressure on your dog’s sore joints, as well as block the sometimes bothersome temperature of the floor. At the very least, select a bed with thick padding, and avoid all raised beds that require your dog to climb or jump on.
My dog has incontinence issues.
Look for a waterproof pet bed with a removable cover or liner that will protect the bed’s stuffing when your dog has an accident. Simply toss the cover in the wash when it needs to be cleaned.
You may also consider a specially designed bed such as the patented Sleepee Time Bed—a multi-layered system with vinyl-coated polyester mesh that allows urine to easily pass through the mattress and into a sturdy bottom tray. The bed also includes bolsters topped with a fleece-like material that’s designed to keep your dog’s fur and skin dry to prevent discomfort or irritation.
My dog is too cold.
It’s common for small or short-haired dog breeds, such as chihuahuas or miniature pinchers, to constantly shiver from the cold. If your pup’s teeth are always chattering, look for an ultra-plush, insulated bed with a generous amount of warm filling, such as polyester or cotton. You can also seek out heated pet beds that function similarly to an electric blanket (though these aren’t suitable for dogs with chewing habits, as the power cord can be a hazard).
My dog is too hot.
If your dog has a thick coat and you’re looking for a traditional indoor bed, make sure to avoid super-plush options that retain a lot of heat. A pet cot with a raised surface might also be a good choice, because it’ll allow cool air to circulate under your dog as it sleeps. If your dog spends a lot of time outside basking in the sun, a plastic cooling pet bed filled with water or gel can help prevent your dog from overheating after playing fetch or running a dog marathon.
My dog suffers from anxiety issues.
Cave beds have a hood that will hang over your dog to make it feel safer and more secure, creating its own personal retreat.
Is your dog a chewer?
My dog chews everything to shreds.
Then you’ll need a bed that’s tough as nails. Pet cots are the hardest type of bed for mischievous dogs and teething puppies to destroy, since there’s not a lot of material to tear apart. A cot typically consists of a sturdy metal or plastic frame with a mesh layer stretched over the top, which makes it hard for dogs to do any serious damage.
My dog is a light chewer.
If you’re searching for a bed that’s on the plush side, look for a pillow or bolster bed with a cover that’s reinforced with thick denim, ballistic nylon, or other fabrics with an ultra-tough weave. These types of beds aren’t completely indestructible, but stand up relatively well to gentle nibblers.
How to pick the right material
When it comes to comfort, what’s inside a pet bed can be just as important as the bed’s size and shape. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each type of fill, and find out which one is most suitable for your canine. Note: Some beds are filled with a combination of these materials.
This is the most common and cost-efficient type of fill. It’s soft, warm, and cushy, and provides light-to-moderate support that works well for younger dogs. Over time, polyester fibers tends to clump, causing beds to lose their original shape. Some pet beds are baffled, or stitched in sections, to prevent the fill from shifting.
This is comparable to polyester fibers as far as softness, warmth, and support, and also presents the same issues of clumping. Organic options are available.
Natural Down Feathers
This type of fill offers moderate support and is among the softest and warmest available. The fill retains heat, so it works well for dogs who chill easily, but might not be a good option for breeds with thick coats. Look for a bed with baffled stitching to prevent the fill from shifting.
Solid Foam, Egg-Crate Foam, and Memory Foam
These types of fill are the most supportive and are the best option for heavy dogs, or dogs with arthritis and other orthopedic issues. They ease pressure on achy joints, and can protect pets from the uncomfortable hot or cold temperature of hard floors. They don't provide as much warmth as polyester or down, but many foam beds come with a plush, warm cover.
Cedar chips are a natural flea repellant, and their distinct scent masks pet odors to help keep homes smelling fresh. They don’t offer the same comfort and protection from the hard floor as other fill options.
Water and gel are cooling agents that provide sweet relief for dogs who have a thick coat or spend extended hours outside in the heat.
How to find the right size for your dog
Measure your dog in its natural sleeping position, starting from its front legs or nose (whichever extends furthest) to its back legs or rump. Add 8”–10” to your dog’s measurements to determine the proper bed length or diameter.
Weigh your dog. Large dog breeds 50 pounds and heavier (such as golden retrievers and German shepherds) require beds with thicker, denser cushioning. Otherwise, they’ll flatten the filling, which cuts down on comfort and defeats the purpose of the bed. Cots are well-suited for Cujo-sized dogs that exceed 80 pounds.
When in doubt, pick a larger size. It’s better to buy a bed that’s too big than too small.
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