Dog beds

Every dog should have a bed of his own. Or two or three or four, actually. A bed can be used for napping during the day and sleeping in at night. Unlike the floor, a bed will keep your dog warm, support arthritic joints, and prevent calluses. And if you’re allergic to your dogs, it’s best if they sleep somewhere besides your bed.

A bed shouldn’t be used as a place for punishment or confinement. A bed is a place of security that belongs only to that one dog, and he should always feel safe in it. It’s a spot for Spot. A bed makes a crate more comfortable, but that doesn’t mean a dog can spend 12 hours a day in a crate just because it has a bed.

The best bed is one that suits your dog

Beds can be as simple as your old pillow or as fancy as a wrought-iron frame with a lace canopy. Your selection depends on your taste, budget, and decor–but you may find that your dog expresses a preference by taking over another dog’s bed.

Basic styles

  • Flat pads or mats are inexpensive and fit in crates.
  • Nesting/snuggle beds are similar to beanbag chairs, and often preferred by smaller dogs who love to curl up.
  • Cuddler/nest beds come in the “traditional” oval bowl shape.
  • Bolsters have one long side with a built-in pillow and are often preferred by large dogs.
  • Doughnut-shaped beds are circular bolsters with a removable center pillow.
  • Waterproof beds are good for outdoor use or incontinent pets.

Special beds for older or ill dogs

  • Orthopedic beds support old joints or very large dogs; they usually have medical-grade foam and/or box-spring construction.
  • Heated beds maintain body warmth.
  • Travel beds are portable, so your dog can have the security of the same bed every night while on the road.
  • Cot-style beds keep your dog off the ground and comfortably support joints by distributing the dog’s weight evenly.

What to look for in a bed

  • A good fit. Beyond finding something within your budget, make sure your dog fits on the bed; heads and limbs shouldn’t have to be hanging off the edge.
  • Easy washability. Dogs eat treats, vomit, pass gas, scratch fleas, and wipe ointment-filled eyes and ears on their beds. Some dogs urinate on them–so the ability to throw the bed into the washing machine is a big help, if not downright critical.
  • Safety. Place the bed away from high-traffic areas so no one trips on it or on the dog. If the dog chews it, get rid of it–swallowing stuffing can lead to emergency surgery (and you thought the bed itself was expensive). Remove any buttons or ribbons the dog could chew, or look for the “chew-proof” beds now available.
  • Stuffing that works for you and your dog. Young, warm, healthy dogs can usually get by with inexpensive foam filling, but your older or arthritic dog will probably prefer more comfort and support. While some orthopedic beds use foam, it’s thicker and of higher quality so it doesn’t squash flat. Snuggle beds and some outdoor beds have Styrofoam beads. Thick, flexible gel has recently become more common as a bed filling; it’s more comfortable than foam and distributes weight more evenly, making it excellent for geriatric dogs–but expensive. And some beds contain cedar chips to keep them smelling fresher than your dog.

Products that complement your bed

Sick, incontinent, or geriatric dogs can benefit from washable or disposable absorbent pads (technically, you’re the one benefitting because you won’t have to wash the bed). Note: These flat pads won’t fit well in a nesting bed.