Dogs are hardworking animals that love to be active every second they are awake. So it is important that they have a place to sleep that is their own, providing comfort and warmth to ensure they get a good night’s rest on a regular basis.
Now finding a bed for your dog my not be as simple as you think. Whether it is a person or a type of food, dogs have a knack of deciding what they like almost instantaneously and it is no different for beds. Not every dog will like the top-of-the-range, most expensive bed; indeed, many dogs like to have their favourite blanket, a radiator and the floor.
There are a fair few options available for specific needs when it comes to dog beds so let’s discuss what is on the market.
Standard Dog Beds (Cushion or Pillow)
Standard dog beds are essentially large cushions that are flat enough for your dog to lie on. They are perfect for large dogs that like to completely sprawl out with their legs stretched. They come in a variety of different sizes along with washable covers. They are usually perfect for one large dog or several smaller dogs if they like to snuggle up together when they sleep.
Crate Dog Beds
These are beds that are made specifically for dogs’ crates. Many people like to crate-train their dog as it gives their pup a safe den-like space to retreat to. They are perfect for dogs that like to spend time in their crates and are a great way to make sure that dogs stay warm and comfortable whilst their owners are away or out of the house. The beds that are designed to go in crates are fairly thin and have thicker parts around the edge to provide comfort. Again, most crate beds come with washable covers in case of an accident.
Doughnut Dog Beds
Typically made of plush material (making them very soft) these beds are not as easy to clean as standard dogs beds. However, they are perfect for those dogs that love to curl up when relaxing or sleeping. They are round and provide a sense of security with an all-around barrier. If your dog loves to chill out in a pile of laundry or a duvet, then this may be the bed for them.
Orthopaedic Dog Beds (Memory Foam)
Aimed at helping dogs with arthritis or joint pain, an orthopaedic dog bed is made of thick memory foam that cushions your dog to help relieve joint pressure and alleviate any stress caused by joint pain. As the dog uses the bed more the memory foam will become used to the dog’s shape and pressure points when they sleep, meaning that the bed is instantly comfy for them. Orthopaedic beds are also good for dogs that are thin and need extra padding to reduce any uncomfortable feeling on their bones. These beds come in a variety of sizes meaning you can get one for a small or bigger dog.
Bolster or Nesting Dog Beds
Aimed for all sizes of dog, bolster and nesting beds are designed for dogs that like to rest their heads on the arm of a sofa or pillow. Some have raised edges all around with an entrance for your dog to enter, others may only have one raised ledge; either way, the principle of the design is to give your dog something to rest their head on.
Heated Dog Beds
These kinds of beds can be ideal for older or ill dogs during the colder months of autumn and winter. They have an in-built heating system that provides extra warmth for your dog whilst they’re lying down or sleeping. Most heated beds usually have a plug in order to provide the electrical current needed to run the in-built heating system.
The bed should be large enough to be comfy but small enough to be cosy. If you’re choosing a nest-like bed then measure your dog from the tip of the nose to the base of their tail (where it joins their body) and look for a bed that is at least that long at the widest point. For a flat, mattress-style bed measure your dog from their nose to the end of their tail. This will give you a fairly good measurement of what size your dog needs.
It can also be a good idea to keep an eye on how your dog sleeps. Just like humans dogs will have a favourite position in which they like to rest, meaning some may move around a lot. If a bed is too small then this movement will be restricted; so always err on the larger side.
As tempting as it might be to choose a bed that’s covered in fluffy or velvety fabric you must bear in mind that the bed is likely to need a wash now and again for routine maintenance or in case of accidents. It is wise to opt for a bed that can be cleaned using a washing machine, either in its entirety or by being dismantled to have the cover laundered.
You may find that your dog is particularly sensitive to temperature (short-nosed breeds like Pugs and and thick-coated breeds like German Shepherds find it particularly difficult to regulate their temperatures in summer) meaning they may prefer to sleep on the floor to keep themselves cool. A cotton bed cover and slightly less squishy bedding will help keep your dog cool and comfy. In winter a bed stuffed with insulating materials will help to keep the bed soft and cosy.
There are a couple of options here that will suit different breeds and sizes of dogs better than others. Nest beds (cushioned with soft, raised sides) tend to be favoured by smaller breeds that prefer to sleep nestled up. Mattress beds (flat without raised sides) might be a better choice for dogs who move a lot in their sleep or prefer to sleep in a more sprawled position. Some people prefer the traditional baskets, either in wicker or plastic, that have a hard shell and inner padding. If you do, and you buy a plastic one, make sure it has ventilation holes as otherwise it may get overly warm for your pet and, additionally, provide a breeding ground for bacteria.
It is best, where possible, to keep your dog’s bed somewhere peaceful, but with a lot of traffic. That way the dog will feel secure in their location and surrounded by their family. Most importantly it must be safe, clean and temperate.
Yeast infections and other skin problems can be incubated by hot, grubby bedding. If you have a particularly mucky puppy on your hands then perhaps a waterproof, wipe-clean bed is the way forward. Otherwise a regular cycle in the washing machine will help but you may find that a bed with a removable, washable cover will last longer than a bed that goes in whole as the stuffing may go lumpy after repeated washes.
With all these factors in mind you should have no trouble finding a bed to suit your dog. Do remember that dogs grow and their habits change, so you may need to invest in a few beds throughout their lifetime but if you make good choices you can minimise your spending and maximise the use. By finding the bed that is most comfortable for your dog you will not only be providing them with a safe and peaceful place to sleep every night, but you will be showing them that they are a part of the family.