Of all the things you buy for your beloved pet’s personal use, the dog bed is probably one that requires the most consideration. For one thing, dogs tend to sleep most of the day, unless they are otherwise occupied, and that means the bed has to be a cozy, relaxing place. Second, unless the bed is comfortable, the dog will avoid using it, and you will have wasted a lot of money on a product that is now useless – and used! so you cannot return it.
So let’s take a closer look at the different kinds of dog beds available, and then some `suitability’ factors to make sure you’re getting a bed that meets your pet’s needs, and one he will not reject.
TYPES OF DOG BEDS
• Standard Dog Beds: These are the most common, with a cushioned bottom and a raised rim or edge for added comfort. Usually they are covered in fleece, flannel, faux fur, faux suede or microfiber and round or square/rectangle in shape. Sometimes, they are filled with cedar chips to discourage infestation of fleas, but be warned that some dogs develop an allergic reaction to cedar.
• Dog Mats: Dog mats are just that – mats. They are a thin layer without much cushioning, and best used as a temporary resting place for your dog – perhaps when you’re travelling. You can also place dog mats on the sofa to protect upholstery if your pet likes to lounge on it, or even in your car or on your bed. The advantage of dog mats is that they are easy to wash and dry, and they can be rolled up and carried around when you’re on the move.
• Loose-Fill Dog Beds: These are essentially flat pillows and they come in all sorts of sizes. The concern with loose-fill beds is the material inside. In low-quality beds of this type, the fillers can get bunched up with long-term use and form bumps and clumps that are not at all comfortable to lie or sit on. Polyester, cotton and foam are the most common sort of fills. Do not buy a loose-fill dog bed that does not have a removable cover for easy washing. Some beds are machine washable, but even with those, make sure that the fillers have not clumped together after it has been laundered. Shake the bed out often to smoothen out and evenly distribute the stuffing.
• Raised Hammock Or Cot-Style Bed: If your large, thick-haired dog has a tendency to overheat in cozy, heat-conserving beds, then a raised structure like this will keep him nicely ventilated. Made of mesh material and raised off the ground, a lot of pets prefer these cots because they help keep the animals cool. And they’re easy to clean as well. If you want, you can always place a layer of foam or a mat on top to add some cushion.
• Covered Dog Beds: These beds are most suitable for small dogs who are shy or nervous by nature, and feel secure in their own, secluded space. Covered dogs beds have covers on top, like a soft, decorative `roof’.
• Orthopedic Dog Beds: While there is no particular shape and size when it comes to orthopedic dog beds, the cushioning is therapeutic for older dogs, or those with arthritis or joint pains. If your pet is getting on in age, it is a good idea to buy an orthopedic bed that will soothe and comfort for several years to come.
• Bed Cooling Pads: If you live in a place where summers get really hot, it’s a good idea to invest in a `cooling pad’ that can be placed on any dog bed you already have. These pads are usually filled with a gel-like fluid that keeps the surface cool (not frigid) and helps your pet get a lot of relief, especially during the hottest times of the day.
BEFORE YOU BUY A DOG BED
Your pet’s comfort is the primary factor when choosing a dog bed, so watch where your dog likes to relax around the house to gauge his specific needs. Some large dogs for example, love being on the floor, so a particularly cushiony one will not be to his liking. He would probably prefer a mat or a cot-style. Smaller dogs on the other hand like being cozy, so a standard would do nicely for him. Older animals will be thankful for the advantages of an orthopedic bed. And so on.
Sizing is another factor. Make sure the dog has plenty of room to stretch out and lie in different positions without feeling restricted on the bed. And pay attention to washing instructions. If the bed does not have a removable cover or is not washable then don’t invest in it. To control dirt, odor and fleas, you should be able to clean the bed as often as necessary.