While most of us don't often think of our own personal bed as a cherished possession, like anything of great quality, it's probably one of the last pieces of furniture we would ever want to live without. A good bed provides insulation, support for our backs and joints, warmth, and a feeling of security. When a dog has a bed of their own, they get all of these same benefits, and more.
When owners ask what they need to purchase for their dog, a good dog bed is always at the top of the list - along with a collar, leash, food, and feeding dishes. High quality beds are extremely important; in fact, we consider beds essential for all dogs regardless of size, breed, or age.
- Insulation - Dog beds keep your dog off the cold, drafty floor year-round. In the winter time especially, many dogs love to curl up in a nesting-type bed like a Henlyn Pets® dog bed, which provides warmth for both comfort and good health.
- Privacy and Security – Great quality beds give your dog 'just-for-me' places throughout your home to retreat to whenever they want. They'll love having one or more places to call their very own. Just like puppies feel safe and at home in their cages, a dog bed is a place where adult dogs can be the masters of their domain. The rest of the house belongs to the people in it, and a canine can often feel like a second-class citizen. If they have a bed, though, it gives them a place they can retreat to when they need time by themselves.
Additionally giving your dog a great place to sleep will keep them from sleeping where you don’t want them to. Dogs will try to find as comfortable a place to sleep as possible and will often end up cozying up in bed with you, scratching up your nice furniture, or tracking dirt on the nice carpets.
A bed that fits your pet’s sleeping needs will keep them from bothering you or damaging anything else as they try to nap. To make sure your dog uses it, though, get the right bed for them. Larger breeds will need larger beds and different beds will come with various features.
- Cushioning for joints and bones - A soft place to lay is especially important for older, arthritic, or overweight dogs. Orthopedic beds are designed specifically for fur kids who need extra joint support and comfort. Sleeping on a floor or other hard surface can be damaging to a dog’s health. Orthopedic beds can be used to help ease the pain and discomfort of hip dysplasia, arthritis, or other structural ailments.
Older dogs should definitely be given an orthopedic high quality bed, as they are far more prone to these conditions. Additionally, high quality beds for your dog often feature other health-promoting aspects, such as cedar chips which may help keep odour down.
Orthopedic Dog Beds Explained:
What makes a dog bed 'orthopedic' at all? Not surprisingly, there aren’t hard and fast rules. “There isn't a standard height, softness, bed fill material, etc. that needs to be met in order for dog beds to be labeled as orthopedic,” says Tara Klimovitz, DVM, CCRT, with Perry Hall Animal Hospital.
“When I tell families that their dog needs an orthopedic bed, I am referring to one that is memory foam or of a similar fibre fill to relieve the trauma to pressure points while the dog lays down so that no part of their musculoskeletal body feels the hard floor beneath them.”
Tracy McKenzie, VT, CCRP owner/operator of the Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) in Toronto, gives some additional guidelines: “High quality dog beds that will address orthopedic needs will be a minimum of 4.5cm of foam or very soft material that has give to it, to best accommodate the pressure points on the dog’s body where bony protrusions are, namely hips and elbows.”
Why Orthopedic Dog Beds Are Needed:
As dogs age, they are more prone to arthritis and other ailments, just like us. According to those interviewed for this article, the following canine conditions make orthopedic beds your senior dog’s other best friend:
- Arthritis (from mild to severe).
- Other joint problems.
- Hip dysplasia.
- Generalised muscle loss associated with old age.
- Dogs that have had orthopedic, neurological surgeries or conditions.
- Bone injuries (fractures, luxations, etc.)
- Soft tissue injuries (tendons, ligaments, etc.)
Orthopedic dog beds come with a variety of features. Consider your dog’s sleeping style to help determine what your dog needs. Most dogs prefer to have something to snuggle into or rest their head on. The neck and shoulders can become overworked in older dogs, and an orthopedic bed will provide that support for a more comfortable lying down position. Others cited the internal material as the most important factor.
“The quality of the foam is most important — thickness, structure, density, integrity,” says Brittany Jean Carr, DVM, CCRT, currently an American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Resident at the Veterinary Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. For some people, that translates specifically to memory foam
“I personally believe the most important feature of an orthopedic bed for senior dogs is memory foam to conform to their body the best,” Sorenson says. Carr adds that some dog beds have a layer of memory foam on top of orthopedic foam to provide even more comfort.
“[Memory foam] will contour to all of the nooks and crannies that are different for all dogs,” Klimovitz says. “Some have more muscle retention, some have muscle atrophy, but memory foam will account for all of that. Memory foam is soft but doesn’t ‘wear out’ to [the point] where with continued use they end up actually feeling the floor surface through the worn cotton padding.” That said, even an orthopedic high quality dog bed won’t last forever.
Cleaning Orthopedic Dog Beds:
“Replace the dogs bed when it becomes depressed/flattened and no longer has any give to it,” McKenzie recommends. Her test tip: “It should bounce back if you press your hand into it and remove it quickly.”
Carr says you should replace the bed if you notice the foam is worn or flattened. “If the dog bed ever acquires an odour, it should be replaced,” she adds, “even if the foam is not worn down.” Some beds have removable covers that you can wash to reduce those stinky smells. “Most of the covers have a water-resistant property to them that helps protect the foam if the bed is soiled,” Carr says. “Keeping the foam clean and dry will allow it to last longer. This is not only more hygienic but also more cost effective.” If the cover can’t be removed, consider using a blanket on top that can be washed as often as necessary.
While an orthopedic dog bed is going to be more expensive, going for quality on your initial purchase may prove to be a bargain in the long run. “Buying an orthopedic dog bed with a higher-quality orthopedic foam will not only last longer and typically be more cost effective, but it will also keep your dog more comfortable,” Carr says. You could also consider McKenzie’s approach if you are unsure about the bed and your wallet can take multiple hits.
“I would be more apt to buy less expensive dog beds and replace them often for sanitary purposes and to ensure the integrity of the cushion,” she says. “This is also because you won’t know until you get it home whether your dog will like it and you may not be able to return a very expensive bed.” As Klimovitz said, when a bed is labeled orthopedic, it is also more expensive. So make sure you are buying something that is actually of the high quality dog beds.
Other potential properties for orthopedic dog beds include the elements fire and air — as in heated and air-filled. Experts had hot and cold reactions toward these. “I like heated beds but with supervision,” Klimovitz says. “I don’t advocate they be used when owners are not home to make sure they are not harmful. Carr, specifically doesn’t recommend a bed that uses an electrical heating pad to heat the bed, because of the risk of burns.
“Heated beds should be used with great caution, especially for dogs with mobility problems that aren't able to move away from the bed to avoid overheating,” McKenzie says. “Senior dogs that have less muscle and tissue are more at risk of burns over bony protrusions. The risks of a heated dog bed (burns) far outweigh any potential benefits.” “Heated beds should be used with great caution," McKenzie says. As for those other elements, McKenzie said she’s had clients try both water beds and air-filled dog beds. She’s unconvinced on whether either offers real benefits to pets.
What Size Bed For Your Dog?
Along with the bed’s material and features, another factor for you to consider for your furry friend is the size. “Typically dogs with orthopedic or neurological conditions prefer dog beds that are appropriately sized for them, meaning that they do not have to excessively curl up to fit into the bed as this puts more pressure on their joints and soft tissues,” Carr says. McKenzie points out that bed your dog uses should be large enough for the dog to be able to stretch out on his side.
The bed’s diameter in relation to your dog isn’t the only measurement that should influence your decision. “You should consider the ease at which your dog can get into and out of the bed without your assistance,” Carr says. McKenzie says that your dogs bed shouldn't be so tall that your dog has to pick his limbs up too high to get into it. “For small dogs it’s safe to stick with 2 to 3 inches and a maximum height of 6 to 8 inches for larger dogs.”
Regarding the bed’s shape or the benefits of an additional cushion, Carr recommends speaking with your vet for further advice as to what is best for your dog’s condition. When it comes to selecting the right bed for when senior Spot snoozes, take your time and consider what will work best for him based on daily habits and sleep preferences. After all, your dog spends a lot of time in bed. And whether he’s a Retriever or a Doodle, it’s worth keeping him comfortable in his golden years.
Think about the last time you traveled and slept on an uncomfortable mattress. Did you wake up sore and stiff? That’s if you even got to sleep at all. Now think about your dog. If his dog bed isn’t comfortable, he can’t call the concierge and request something else. As the ultimate bed and breakfast proprietor for your dog, it’s your responsibility to ensure a proper high quality dog bed for Bowser. And for a senior dog, the proper one might mean going orthopedic.
"Most dogs sleep for 12 hours a day. Choosing the right high quality bed is essential."
- Increased control over loose hair & dander – High quality beds hold shed hair and dander in one, easy-to-clean location. Many of our customers choose a bed offering extra/replacement covers so they always have one cover to use and one to wash. Let’s face it; as much as you sweep and vacuum your floors, it still isn’t the cleanest place to take a nap. Giving your best friend a high quality bed will help keep them clean. Should they track mud and dirt from outside onto their sleeping space, don’t worry. Most dog beds come with removable liners or other features that make them easy to clean. This is markedly easier than cleaning all of the furniture in your house with a hand roller or vacuum.
- Prevents Injury – High quality beds help prevent injuries by keeping your dog from jumping up to and down from high furniture. This is especially beneficial for smaller breeds and older dogs.
- Protection, Comfort and Security - Dogs who spend large amounts of time outdoors need a bed as much as - or more than - inside dogs. Our range of dog beds offer tough, water-resistant comfort in virtually any location. Beds are much more than soft squares to place randomly throughout your home. Beds offer many benefits and play a large role in your pet's ongoing health and satisfaction. Choose the best pet bed you can afford for your budget.