Okay, so you’ve adopted a puppy or older dog, and excitedly go to the shops to buy a dog bed. There you are faced with so many choices, and, depending on where you go, so many different prices ranges.
Should you get something soft and comfy looking?, should it be on the ground or off the ground? Should it be flat or have sides to it? Or should you just forget the dog bed altogether as you are quite happy to have your new mate sharing the couch and your bed with you?
What about when you’re not there? Should you have a dog bed to leave outside on the deck?
So many questions!!! I have seen people wander up and down past dog beds in a shop, picking up and putting down, going back and forwards in indecision.
Now, this article is not to advertise a specific brand of dog bed. Rather it’s to give you some idea of what to look for when making a decision about what to buy.
Firstly, you want something that will provide insulation from a cold floor in winter and that you can keep cool in summer.
Many dogs will lie on a cold tile floor in summer, but especially as they age, that might not be the best option. So there are things that we can do to encourage them to stay on their bed while keeping cool.
Whether the bed is off the ground or on the ground, it should be of sufficient thickness to provide this insulation. A soft blanket on it in winter helps to provide extra warmth and also allows you to keep it clean by washing blankets frequently. A sheet on the bed in summer with a gel cooling mat provides both cushioning and coolness.
Size matters!! The bed really needs to be big enough to give your dog plenty of room to get up and change position. Some dogs like to sleep curled up and others prefer the sprawled out position, but often as a dog gets older they will frequently change from one position to the other. If you want a bed that will last for a while, consider getting a bigger bed, even if your dog prefers the curled into a ball position. You also want to make sure that the dog will not fall out of the bed while sleeping.
Should the bed have sides to it? Well, again, that depends. Puppies often feel secure in a bed that has sides to it, some small breeds also prefer small beds with sides, but for an ageing dog who may have arthritis or be stiff, that is just one more obstacle to navigate, so consider the age of the dog and their overall physical condition.
Which brings me to the importance of the right bedding for ageing or arthritic dogs. They really need something that is firm, that doesn’t allow them to sink in when they lie on it. It can be slightly elevated but should still be fairly low to the ground as climbing up and down can be painful. It should definitely not have sides to it. As mentioned, you don’t want any additional obstacles. If the bed is in an area that is not carpeted, e.g. wooden floors or tiles, it is really important to have something non-slip around the dog’s bed so he/she has a firm grip when rising.
You want something that is easy to clean – so that either has its own slip cover, or you can cover with sheets or blankets that can be washed frequently. Some like mesh or canvas type beds that can be hosed down (again, taking into consideration the suitability of the general design).
Price, price, price. Well as I said, prices can vary, from $10 to hundreds of dollars. Generally, as with everything, you get what you pay for.
However! If you have a medium to large breed size dog, I have a tip for you that could save you a great deal of money and give your dog a wonderful comfy bed. Go online to Gumtree or any of your online classifieds and search for a second hand baby cot mattress. You are looking for one that is nice and firm. I purchased two wonderful cot mattresses – the one cost me $5 and the other $10 (and the $5 one is actually the firmer and better of the two).
Place it against a wall or furniture (prevents your dog falling off the side and provides a “back” to it.) In a corner is good, if possible. My cot mattresses were actually sold with mattress protectors, but you can get a large second hand sheet and wrap it over the mattress. Then in winter include some nice cuddly blankets on it.
Our 15 year old arthritic dog loves her mattress. If you buy a few (you might have to keep on looking for a few weeks) you can have one for outside on the covered deck (again, against a wall is best) as well as for inside. You can then wash the sheet and blankets as needed. In summer, place your gel mat on the mattress.