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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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Choosing the Right Bed for Your Dog

You probably consider your own bed a necessity rather than a luxury item. The same is true for your dog's bed! Certainly, your dog can sleep on the floor, or on your own bed or sofa, and will do so without complaint. However, your dog would probably thank you for providing a special bed of his or her very own. Some reasons your faithful pooch deserves a dog bed:

  • It provides your dog with a sense of security. Find a cozy spot, and keep the bed in the same location so your dog always knows it's their special place. Remember, your dog's wild ancestors were territorial, and your dog will appreciate a place to claim as his or her own.
  • Dog beds are comfy. Given the choice between sleeping on the ground or on a nice, soft bed, most dogs would choose a bed which provides cushioning and insulation against the cold, hard floor.
  • It protects your home. If your dog has his or her own bed, it will keep fur, dirt and pet dander off your own bed or furniture. This is especially important if you have family members who suffer from allergies.
Determine key factors before choosing a dog bed

Once you've concluded your pet is deserving of his or her very own dog bed, your next step is deciding upon the best type of bed for your dog. Consider the following factors:

  • Sleeping style. Some dogs like to sleep sprawled out, while others prefer to curl up in a cozy ball. Does your dog like the security of burrowing, or leaning against something? Spend some time observing your dog's sleeping preferences to help you determine the bed choice that will best match his or her sleeping style.
  • Dog's size and activity level. A large, active dog will need a bed with sturdy construction and a thicker, more durable cover than a smaller dog would need. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, look for a bed with a removable, washable cover so muddy paw prints won't ruin the bed.
  • Budget and decor. Nowadays, dog beds are available in a wide range of styles, colors, materials and prices, so you're sure to find one that complements your home.
Popular dog bed syles and shapes

Now that you are familiar with your dog's sleep style, you are prepared to choose the dog bed that will best suit your pet. There are lots of different kinds of dog beds, but the basic types are:

Orthopedic dog beds

This type of bed is typically a mattress type of bed which provides orthopedic support. Consider this type of bed if your dog is older, or is experiencing joint pain. An orthopedic dog bed is also a good choice for thinner dogs with more prominent bones because it provides extra cushioning to the bony prominences, avoiding painful pressure points. Because the mattress shape of an orthopedic dog bed is roomy, it's a great choice if your dog likes to sprawl out to sleep.

Donut and bolster dog beds

This style of dog bed is usually round or oval and has a cushioned bottom and a raised side. Your dog will appreciate this style of bed if he or she likes to lean against something for security, or likes to sleep with his head resting upon a raised pillow. Many smaller dogs find this type of bed to be cozy as the cup shape helps retain body heat. This kind of bed is great for dogs who like to curl up.

Pillow or cushion dog beds

This is a simple dog bed that is basically a large pillow or cushion. This style of bed comes in many different sizes, and is a great choice for dogs that enjoy sprawling out.

Heated dog beds

Heated dog beds are warm and cozy and are another type of bed that is beneficial for older dogs. Dogs with painful joints will find the gentle heat soothes and reduces stiffness. Smaller dogs can easily lose body heat and can also benefit from a heated dog bed. In addition, a heated dog bed is great for use in colder climates, and some are even specifically made for outdoor use.

Outdoor cots and beds

For dogs that like to rest outdoors, you may want to consider a cot. Dog cots are raised to keep your dog elevated from the hot ground in the summer, or above the cold ground in the winter. Many dog cots are made of a waterproof fabric which simplifies cleaning. Plus, their sturdy frame makes them ideal for larger dog breeds.

Max's Tip

If your dog is still a puppy, consider his or her size when full grown to help pick an appropriate bed size.

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