A lot of times we buy things for our pets assuming that since it’s for a dog, it’s going to end up hairy and stink anyway. So, there’s no reason to spend a few extra bucks on something fancy. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Buying the wrong kind of bed or pillow could result in countless problems from allergies, to cleanliness, to downright cheap materials falling apart. Get the right bed for your pets needs so that you don’t waste money, and they’ll have a durable, long lasting pillow for their everyday comfort.
1. How Durable is the Material
Since your dog’s bed or pillow is going to be receiving a lot of attention, the opportunities for wear and tear are pretty high. This is generally dependent on how the material of the pillow and how well it’s put together.
Waterproof or water resistant covers for pillows and beds should be a priority in deciding which one to buy. Look for liners that are made from polycanvas, a commonly used material in patio awnings, garage and car covers. While it may take on the slightest amount of moisture, polycanvas is built to repel water rather than absorb it. Even if it does get wet, it’s highly unlikely that the liquid will seep all the way through to the center of the filling. Unless you decide to toss it in the pool, polycanvas works well for water resistance and it’s very easy to wash.
It’s also the best choice if your dog will be spending a lot of time in their dog house and need a bed that’s good for the outdoors. Smooth nylon is also a sturdy fabric that is resistant to hair; it’s also quite a bit stronger than polyester, but still softer, lighter, and more breathable.
For senior dogs and arthritic pets, you also need to find a filling that stays in good shape for years to come. Avoid cotton fillings whether you’ll be keeping the bed inside or out in the dog house. Cotton is going to clump quickly, and it’s going to absorb flakes of dirt and skin that will eventually cause the bed to stink and disintegrate. Instead, go for gel materials or a hypoallergenic foam, these are better for senior and arthritic pets.
2. How Easy is it to Clean
We all know that even the cleanest dogs have to shed, and their paws are more like a dusty pair of boots that they just can’t take off. No matter what happens, it’s going to get dirty and you need something that doesn’t have to be thrown out at the first sign of trouble. You want to purchase a bed and pillow that comes with an outer casing that can be unzipped, removed, and thrown into a washing machine. It’s imperative that you make sure the bed is explicitly labeled “Machine Washable,” those that aren’t clearly labeled this way are very likely to fall apart in the washing machine. Sometimes machine washing isn’t always necessary, most of the time our pets are pretty well-behaved and don’t use their bedding as a bathroom. At the very least, you should be able to wet down a paper towel or a cloth and gently wipe away spills and stains from food and treats.
The outer casing and the zipper are also definitely necessary, as placing a pillow filled with stuffing is very difficult to dry out. Even after you put it in the dryer, the filling in your dog pillow can remain damp on the inside. Eventually this will cause mold and other bacterial growths to emerge, ruining the entire pillow and forcing you to buy a new one. This is why a water resistant outer case is essential, it’ll help your dog’s bed last a whole lot longer.
3. Is it Temperature Appropriate
If your dog’s bed is going to be outdoors, the amount of heat it retains matters a great deal. Since they’re unable to sweat, dogs pant in order to cool themselves off. This takes quite a bit of time as you’ve probably noticed when playing or running with them. A pillow or bed that has a lining designed to exude heat, it could cause serious harm to your dog’s health.
Beds and pillows that work best in the hotter seasons generally have some kind of self-cooling technology. Obviously, you’ll want them to be the correct size for your dog otherwise they won’t be as effective. Gel pads and linings are ideal, they don’t absorb heat and actually maintain a temperature that is five to ten degrees cooler than the outside weather. Water filled beds are also available, but they’re not really recommended for long term outdoor use. If a water bed does get dirty, it’s not very easy to clean, and if it is damaged there’s not much you can do to fix it up. Try to avoid any kind of outer fabric that’s softer or has a furry exterior to avoid heat buildup.
With winter beds, you can get a little creative for better results. For colder weather, get a pillow that’s made of fleece, flannel, or wool. Not only do they help to keep your dog warm, but they also help to create more heat by coinciding with the heat from your pet’s body.
Since you’ll be putting it inside of a dog house, you can use other forms of insulation to keep your pet nice and warm. Use an old pillowcase to stuff with straw, hay, or dried grass and place it underneath the bed or pillow. This helps to maintain heat, and if any moisture makes its way up from the ground or through the bottom of your dog house, the hay soaks it right up. It’s inexpensive and easy to replace, best of all it’ll keep your dog bed clean and safe!
Electric beds and heating pads are okay to use depending on the setting, but you should never leave your pet unsupervised when using these devices. If your pup happens to fall asleep on it, she could end up with belly burns. Set a time limit when they’re outside, and bring them in if temperatures become too extreme. Even though they’re descendants of wolves, domesticated dogs don’t have the physical capabilities to survive in extreme weather on their own.
Things to Keep in Mind
Before you go out and get one, look into the fine print of your new bed or pillow and check to see if it has a warranty. This is essential when purchasing products for your pet, and we all know how expensive beds can be. As long as your bed has some kind of return policy, you won’t have to worry about losing money on an ineffective product.
Another thing to consider is whether or not your pet is allergic to the bed or pillow that you may be buying. Although it’s not life threatening, it’s also not uncommon for dogs to have skin allergies. None of us want our dogs to break out into a painful rash or hives, so look out for certain dyes and fabrics. Specifically, yellow dyes number 5 and 6 have been linked to reactions and should be avoided for both you and your pet. If you aren’t certain about whether a bed or pillow is safe, you could try swiping a small section of your dog’s paw pad or leg with it. Wait for 30 minutes to an hour, and if you don’t see any signs of trouble then it should be just fine.
Know When to Throw it Out
Even the longest lasting dog beds and pillows see the end of their days. As much as we’d like to hold onto them forever, you should throw it away if your dog’s pillow starts to show serious signs of wear and tear. Mainly, bacteria growth and buildup is the biggest concern. Think about it in terms of the mattress that you sleep on; it’s recommended to throw it away and get a new one every 8 years. You might ask “what for?” when you’ve slept on it for years with no problem.
The thing is, your mattress collects pounds of skin and dirt over the years, which is pretty disgusting. Now, picture the same scenario happening with your dog’s bed, only this time you can add dandruff and shedding. Pretty gross right? Your dog needs a new bed every few years too, even though they don’t live as long as we do, they tend to shed skin and hair much faster than we do.
Take your time while you’re shopping, and look up reviews online no matter what the brand is. Even the best companies have had products with defects, so make sure that the bed or pillow that you buy has a positive consensus from the public. Looking through feedback online could save you the heartache of an unfortunate allergic reaction as well, keeping your dog safe and sound.