It certainly is a dog’s life—especially when you consider the enviable amount of time they spend sleeping and relaxing. The average adult dog sleeps 12 to 14 hours per day and spends at least 30% of their awake time lounging. Puppy and senior dogs require additional rest—they average an impressive 18 to 20 hours of sweet slumber every day.
When you spend half—or more—of your life sleeping, as our dogs do, a comfortable, supportive, and healthy resting place is essential. After all, sleep is more than stillness—it’s a vital process with countless physical and mental health benefits that help your dog live a longer, healthier life.
If your dog’s bed is a little lumpy, smelly, nonexistent, or the same one you sleep in—it’s probably time for a pup-grade. Here are some key considerations when shopping for your mutt’s next mattress.
Every Dog Has Their Day—and Every Dog Needs a Bed
While sharing your bed with your pet can provide comfort, security, and warmth, this literal strange bedfellows scenario can be less than idyllic. Disadvantages include:
- Poor sleep quality — Large, restless, or rowdy dogs can disrupt their owner’s sleep patterns, making an inadequate six-hour snooze feel more like four.
- Pet allergens — Allowing your dog to sleep on your bed or beside you may worsen pet allergies by creating prolonged, intense exposure to dander.
- Germs and parasites — Immunocompromised owners and children who share tight spaces with pets may be susceptible to zoonotic diseases (i.e., conditions transmitted from dogs to people).
Providing your dog with their own bed can restore restful sleep to you both. If you think no pet bed can replace your pillow-top, think again—many modern dog beds rival a human mattress for comfort and support. Your dog will probably appreciate the extra legroom, too.
No Bones about It—Orthopedic Dog Beds Work
Orthopedic dog beds are designed to provide even support and cushion your dog’s bony joints—especially the hips, knees, and elbows. However, because of mass manufacturing, “orthopedic” has become a synonym for “made with foam,” so attention to design is critical when investing in an orthopedic bed.
Authentic orthopedic beds can significantly improve joint stiffness and discomfort in dogs with arthritis, hip, and elbow dysplasia. In a University of Pennsylvania study, dog owners reported a significant improvement in their dog’s quality of life, comfortable mobility, and energy after using an orthopedic bed.
Dogs of all ages can benefit from an orthopedic bed, but this design is crucial for senior, athletic, or handicapped dogs, as well as those who have had an orthopedic injury or surgery. When you shop, remember that an orthopedic dog bed is more than a place to sleep—it’s an investment in their health. Important considerations include:
- Foam thickness — Look for several inches of foam, not a single thin pad.
- Even support under pressure — Can you feel the floor beneath the bed when you apply moderate pressure? If so, your dog will sink to the floor rather than resting on the bed. Look for a bed with several inches of dense foam.
- Bed cover — Because these beds are expensive, you’ll want your choice to last. Select a bed with a removable and waterproof cover to protect the foam.
This One’s Just Right—Your Dog’s Bed Shape and Style
Dog beds come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes—and although letting your dog play Goldilocks at the pet store trying out their inventory would be fun, you can determine the right fit for your Fido more easily:
- Observe your dog — First, pay attention to how your dog sleeps. Do they curl up, stretch out, or like to recline with their upper half or head elevated regally? Do they want to snuggle close to you or another pet for warmth and security?
- Measure your dog — Know your dog’s approximate weight and standing body length, which can help ensure you pick the right bed size.
- Match your dog to their dream bed — Now, pair your dog’s sleep preferences with the bed that lets them do their thing:
- Round beds (i.e., donut bed) — If your fluffy friend prefers the fetal position or huddling up with friends, a round bed will wrap them with 360 degrees of comfort and security.
- Mattress-style flat beds — Dogs who like to spread out, stretch out, or sleep upside down in a Superman-pose can sleep in ultimate peace on a mattress-style bed.
- Bolster beds or couch beds — Dogs who prefer to elevate their head or upper body (i.e., in a reclined position) will adore a bolster or couch bed. Bolsters provide a soft but supportive bed frame and may help pets feel more secure, while low-fronted couch-style designs allow senior dogs to easily enter and exit the bed without climbing.
- Outer material — While cuddly fleece and faux fur may warm up short-coated pups, these materials may be too hot for heavily coated dogs. Waterproof covers are ideal for seniors and puppies.
Confined but Comfortable—Dog Crate Beds and Pads
If you use a crate to confine your pup at home or during travel, proper bedding can ensure they get from crate to zzz’s in no time. Depending on your dog’s age and lifestyle, consider the following features:
- Fit — Measure your crate’s interior to get the right fit. Bulky beds may limit your dog’s space, while smaller pads can slide around.
- Support — Dogs can spend long hours in their crate, so don’t skimp on the padding, especially if your dog is a large or giant breed, or arthritic.
- Durability — If your dog has crate anxiety or frustration, you’ll want a resilient pad that can withstand digging and scratching. Vinyl-covered crate pads with tie-down features are the best option.
- Material — Crate pads and beds can absorb smells, especially if your dog is wet from walking or swimming. Look for materials that allow drainage or are waterproof.
Wake Up Call—What’s Lurking in Your Dog’s Current Bed?
Unfortunately, no matter how cute or cozy some beds look, most dogs aren’t sleeping on a cloud—they’re sleeping on harmful chemicals. Some memory and polyurethane foams can contain dangerous substances, including:
- Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)
- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
- Flame retardants
- Lead, arsenic, or formaldehyde
All these chemical groups have been associated with increased cancer risk, endocrine disruption, and other detrimental health issues. However, because these chemicals are often found in inexpensive dog beds, avoiding them will require some research and likely cost more. Ensure your dog’s dreams are peaceful—not poisonous—by looking for a bed that meets these criteria:
- Made with natural latex foam and other natural materials (i.e., no synthetics)
- MadeSafe or Certi-PUR US® certified foam
- Free from chemical treatments (e.g., stain-resistant, or antimicrobial coatings)
- Made in North America
Fresh Linens for Fido—Keeping Your Dog’s Bed Clean
Dog beds can start to smell pretty ripe and gather dirt, bacteria, and pests such as fleas or ticks. Ideally, you should wash your pet’s bed every one to two weeks in warm or hot water and white vinegar. If you prefer using a detergent, look for a fragrance-free gentle formula, and repeat your rinse cycle to ensure all detergent is removed. Allow the bed to air dry when possible. If you must use a dryer, skip the dryer sheets, which contain harmful chemicals.
In between washings, vacuum your pet’s bed regularly to remove hair, dirt, and other debris. Spot clean any accidents or stains with a pet-safe enzymatic cleaner.
Roll Over, Rover—When to Replace Your Dog’s Bed
If you’ve flipped your dog’s current mattress so much that it’s finally flopped, your dog needs a new bed. Here are a few ways to determine if your dog’s resting spot needs a refresh:
- Thin or threadbare fabric — Dogs naturally dig and scratch at their bedding. Your dog needs a new bed if you can see through the bed cover.
- Lumpy or uneven stuffing — Clumped stuffing can lead to uneven pressure on joints and make your dog stiff and sore.
- Flat padding — If you can feel the floor through the bed, the foam no longer supports your pet.
- Odors — If your pet’s bed isn’t waterproof, stains and smells can permeate the foam and be impossible to remove.
Your dog’s bed is more than a place to rest their bones. Selecting an appropriate bed based on your dog’s physical needs, health, and preferences can improve their sleep quality and, in turn, improve their quality of life—ultimately giving you more time to share each other’s company.
Talk about a dream come true.