If you’re wondering whether your dog needs a bed, ponder this: The average dog stands up on his feet for only five hours per day. If you’re a dog parent, you know what they’re doing the rest of the time—it’s enough to make sleep-deprived humans envious. Dogs spend between 12 and 14 hours per every 24 hours sleeping. Tag on another five to seven hours lying around awake but resting, and the answer comes clear. Yes, your dog needs a soft, supportive bed—both for sleeping and lounging. From offering extra support for his joints to providing a dedicated place that’s all his, here are the primary ways a dog bed benefits your best friend:
A Dog Bed of One’s Own
Dogs are denning creatures who instinctively seek out warm, safe, soft spots to call their own. In the wild, dogs would never sleep on the cold, hard ground if they could help it. Instead, they would gather leaves for insulation from the chill, or find a soft section of grass to tamp down. If your dog doesn’t have a dog bed at home, he may collect throw blankets or laundry to create a cozy spot. Or he’ll stake his claim to a snug corner of the couch or your bed. If you have a “no dogs on the furniture” rule in your home, a dog bed will give your dog the comfy nest he needs and curb his temptation to rebel. Even if your dog is allowed up, he should have a dog bed (or two, or three).
How Many Beds Does a Dog Need?
Your dog needs a bed to call his own, like the wild canids before him—and his human family members, now. Keep him comfortable no matter where he prefers to snooze with multiple dog beds available to him throughout the house. Instead of relocating a single dog bed throughout the day, use multiple dog beds to provide options for your companion so he can have a cozy spot in his usual hangouts. Offer supportive places wherever he likes to relax, like in the living room, the kitchen, on the porch, and on the floor beside your bed. Opting to rest on the floor in your office rather than in the dog bed you placed in an empty room isn’t necessarily a sign he doesn’t like the bed. He probably wants to keep an eye on you—add a bed in areas he frequents to create spaces that are all his.
And don’t forget his crate: When you must leave your dog behind, a dog bed offers more support than the cold, hard floor of his crate. Start training your puppy to sleep in his dog bed, or crate when he’s young, so he develops a sense of his own ‘home’ as soon as possible. When you’re sure your puppy (or adult dog) is able to spend a stretch in his crate without shredding his bedding or toys, it’s time to upgrade to a dog bed. A memory foam or lofty, cushioned fiberfill bed gives your dog a little extra support while he’s waiting for you to return. A bolster-style bed allows him to lean against the crate without pressing into its wire sides, gives him a place to rest his chin, and provides a bit of security for the dog who prefers to snooze curled up.
This goes for the vehicle, too. Keep a durable, indoor/outdoor bed in your dog’s travel crate or in the back of the car for his comfort and security on road trips.
What Kind of Bed Is Best for Dogs?
When choosing the best bed for your dog, consider size, fill, and shape. Take a look at your dog’s favorite sleep positions to determine whether he’d prefer a platform or bolster bed. Measure him for the appropriate bed size, and choose the material and fill that best suit your companion.
Do Dogs Need Soft Beds?
Dogs need to rest on a firm surface; too-soft pillow beds don’t offer the support needed for comfortable rest and healthy joints, and an older dog who sinks into a plush bed may have trouble getting into and out of it. This doesn’t mean he should sleep on the floor—that’s too firm. Instead, provide a bed with memory foam or a chambered polyfill sleep surface. A memory foam bed conforms to your dog’s body to relieve pressure, distribute his weight evenly, and provide tailored-for-him comfort. These orthopedic beds aren’t just for older dogs: Memory foam offers just-right joint and muscle support for a lifetime of comfort, so they’re ideal for younger, growing dogs, too.
The Benefits of a Raised Dog Bed
A raised dog bed—elevated with sturdy legs rather than situated flush with the floor—may be a good choice for your companion. A raised bed allows for extra airflow to help keep your dog cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Climbing into and out of an elevated bed may be easier for your older dog, as rising out of a bed on the floor can put pressure on his joints. Some raised dog beds can be wiped or hosed off, simplifying cleanup if you enjoy spending time in the yard or camping with your dog. Top it with a dog blanket, and your companion will sleep soundly.
Older Dogs Need Extra Joint Support
The American Academy of Veterinary Medicine says orthopedic dog beds are beneficial for older dogs. That’s because no amount of blanket piling is going to provide the joint support these dogs need. Also, climbing onto and off of couches, chairs, and beds can be hazardous for dogs with mobility issues unless you provide dog stairs. The best beds for senior dogs with arthritis and joint problems are orthopedic. These beds gently support your dog’s joints and pressure points, which can help ease his transition from lying down to standing, and help manage his arthritis symptoms. Most orthopedic beds are made with a specialty foam that ‘gives’ just enough, conforms to your dog’s shape, and rebounds after each use.
Dog Beds Improve Dog Health
Dogs of any age with joint problems, hip dysplasia, or who are recovering from surgery or broken bones will benefit from the extra support offered by an orthopedic dog bed. And any dog bed style will help prevent the sores and chafing that can occur when dogs spend hours on a hard surface. Finally, dog beds provide a sense of security that is good for all dogs, but especially for a dog with anxiety. His bed is a little piece of home you can take with you to minimize anxiety when you travel or move, and that can be your dog’s special spot when he’s left alone.
Dog Beds Improve Human Sleep
A recent sleep study by the Mayo Clinic found that people who slept with a dog in their bed had a worse night’s rest than people who didn’t have a dog in bed with them. Alternately, people who slept with a dog in their bedroom—but not in their bed—enjoyed a better night’s sleep. The presence of the dog in the room seemed to offer people a sense of security, but when the dog shared a bed their movements interrupted human sleep. And multiple dogs in the bedroom, in or out of their owner’s bed, can worsen sleep, according to the study.
Dog Beds Keep Fur Contained
Dog beds help minimize fur and dander in other locations around the house. Naturally, wherever your dog roams, he’ll leave some hair and dander in his wake. But when he has a dog bed, the bulk of it collects in one place and cleanup is uncomplicated. Additionally, your dog’s bed comes with a cover you can easily remove and wash when it requires a deeper cleaning. Many pet parents opt for backup dog bed covers so they can rotate when one is in the wash.
Sure, sometimes you lie down on your living room rug to watch some TV or to play and snuggle with your best friend. It’s okay for short spells, but you’d be uncomfortable, cranky, and sore if that was your only option for sleeping and resting. Giving your dog a bed of his own ensures the four-legged member of your family enjoys the safety, comfort, and warmth of home, too.