How to Choose the Perfect Bed for Your Dog

If your dog is too big for a bed you can wash at home, or if you do not have a front-loading washer, choose a bed with a cover that zips off and on easily for washing.

Matching the Bed to the Dog

While some double-coated dogs are probably going to prefer the coolest tile in your home over any bed — at least while they’re young — most other breeds and nearly all older dogs could use (and will certainly appreciate) some cushioning. Here are some easy options, listed from least cushy to most — plus some quick tips on how much cushion your dog really needs.

Mats: Wash-and-wear bedding for dogs on the go, mats are typically used to provide a small degree of protection from hard floors or bare crate bottoms, or to prevent damage to beds and furniture by adding a layer over the top of upholstery and bedding. Mats can also be used to extend the period between washings for pet bed covers, allowing for frequent change-outs for cleanliness, allergies (people and pets both) and parasite control. You can buy mats made for dogs (especially useful for fitting perfectly inside a crate), or pick up bath mats on sale. A mat is very handy, but it's not really a permanent solution for most dogs.

Best for: Travel or keeping other dog beds or furniture cleaner.

Hammock-type beds: These are easy to care for and easy to clean, but don't offer much in the way of padding. These elevated beds are typically made of sturdy material attached to a framework of metal, wood or PVC. Shelters and boarding kennels love hammocks because they allow dogs to get off the cold, hard floor. Those made for kennel or shelter use are typically spray-cleaned and left to air-dry. Many of these beds are very durable and will last for years with little maintenance.

Best for: Warmer climates and young dogs who don’t need much padding but are more comfortable off the floor.

Loose-fill beds: Basically a pillow, a loose-fill bed needs more attention than the others because the fillers may bunch up or break down over time, especially in less expensive beds. Polyester fiber is probably the most common fill, but you can also find cotton batting (including organic), bean-bag-type foam beads or even shredded cedar (I don't really recommend this, as some dogs are sensitive to the cedar). Don’t buy this type of bed unless you can remove the cover to launder it; washing the entire bed (even if it says it’s washable) often hastens the clumping and breakdown of the stuffing material, leaving your dog with spots that have no padding. When you do wash the covers, check the filler, and add material (available from craft stores) as needed to keep the bed plump. Some companies make these beds with inner baffles to prevent clumping, and this can really help.

Best for: The low-end beds in this category are best for warmer climates and young dogs. The high-end entries with top-quality materials and craftsmanship can hold their own with any bed, and are good choices for dogs who need padding and warmth, such as older and arthritic dogs.

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