How to Choose a Dog Bed for a Senior Dog
It is tough to watch your dog get older; however, you can still make them comfortable and happy in their golden years. Choosing the right senior dog bed can greatly improve their restful hours. Start your search online and in the pet store by comparing costs and reviews. Focus on orthopedic and foam beds to get the best bed for the price. When you’ve purchased a base bed feel free to customize it to suit your dog’s unique needs.
Being an Informed Consumer
Determine if your dog is a “senior.” Most dogs can be categorized as senior when they reach between 5-10 years of age. Size is a determining factor in how quickly dogs age. You can apply the seven dog years to one human year measurement to small or medium dogs (between 20-40 pounds), but large ones have a tendency to age faster. It is also a good idea to consult a vet for guidance.
- You can also look for physical signs of aging such as slowness of movement. This will help you to determine if a “young” dog needs senior care. The label “geriatric” is different from senior and refers to older animals with noticeable health concerns.
Pay attention to the size and weight of your dog.A bed should fit your dog comfortably without being too snug or restricting movement. It is a good rule to measure your dog’s length from rump to nose and then add one foot (30.5 cm) to come up with a bed size. Pay attention to a bed’s weight limits as well, as oversize dogs (over 150 lbs.; 68 kg.) may require a specialty purchase.
- Also, purchase a bed with an appropriate height as well, if raised. After all, a very small dog may have a great deal of difficulty climbing onto a high raised bed. This can be especially dangerous with a senior dog who may be more prone to falling injuries.
Compare dog bed prices.Caring for a senior dog can get expensive and you’ll want to factor in the cost of a new bed. You generally get what you pay for with dog beds, so you can spend under for a floor cushion model to over 0 for a memory foam luxury raised style. It is a good idea to comparison shop online once you have an idea as to the style that you prefer. Look for specials and member deals at pet stores.
- If you end up purchasing a cheaper model you might want to add some blankets underneath to make it softer for your dog. Just be careful to set up the bed so as to avoid your dog slipping.
Check out reviews.Look online for reviews by searching “senior dog beds” and “reviews.” Many sites will show you rankings, price points, photos of the product, and pros/cons lists. Keeping your budget and size parameters in mind, sort through this information to narrow down your bed options even more.
- Pay particular attention to any reviews describing cleaning or quality issues. With a senior pet the bed will need to be able to withstand a bit of abuse without falling apart.
Get a warranty.Some online pet companies and brick-and-mortar pet stores will offer extended warranties or guarantees on their dog beds. This is especially the case with beds that are more expensive. Memory foam beds, for example, often come with guarantees and assurances against flattening or lumpiness.
- Some companies have more gimmicky sounding warranties that are valid nonetheless. For example, one pet bed manufacturer guarantees that your dog bed will last 19 years or more.
Selecting the Right Design
Know your style options.Not all dog beds are the same. There are pod beds for small dogs. Pillow beds that resemble a bean bag. Mattress beds that are totally flat. Travel beds that fold up for quick carrying. For a senior dog, an orthopedic or foam bed is generally the best option as it provides the most support and ease of access. So, any time that you see orthopedic in the bed’s description, take another look.
- Consider your dog's physical needs too. If your dog has a back problem, for example, look for a flat, supportive mattress as opposed to a beanbag style, which doesn't support the back.
Consider a raised design.A raised bed literally keeps your dog from laying on the floor by positioning the bed above the ground via four legs. Senior dogs prefer these beds as they maintain a warmer temperature, which is soothing for pained joints. They are also often easier to get into as they do not require stooping down low.
- Raised beds can also minimize the growth of bacteria by allowing air to flow under the bed area. This will reduce foul smells as well.
- It is better to choose a bed with galvanized metal or aluminum legs. PVC tubing beds don’t hold up to chewing very well and can lead to choking if pieces break off.
- To prevent joint strain, it is best to choose a bed that is no more than 10 inches (25 cm) off of the ground.
Think about adding bolsters.Bolsters are a medium-firm raised ridge that can extend along part of the upper area of your dog bed. These provide a soft area for your dog to rest its head. It can also lessen anxiety in older dogs who may be worried about having their back exposed when laying down.
- Younger dogs may prefer beds with all-around bolsters, but these can provide access issues for older dogs who can’t step over them easily. Instead, go with a partially bolstered bed.
Look into memory foam.This is a thick type of polyurethane cushion that is noted for providing firm and consistent support to both dogs and humans alike. Look for a foam that has a 3+ density measurement for the best quality. With this density even a memory foam pad that looks rather thick can actually provide a great deal of comfort for a senior dog’s aching joints.
- The best quality memory foam beds are made from one single slab. However, if you are looking for a cheaper version you can find beds that are made from multiple slabs stuck together.
- If memory foam is not an option you can always look into egg-crate foam as an alternative or even the traditional poly-fill pillow style beds.
Customizing for Cleanliness and Comfort
Be aware of possible allergens.Foam beds are generally hypoallergenic; however, be careful when purchasing ‘combination-material’ beds. These are beds that may have a foam base supplemented with a feather topper. The feathers can trigger an allergic reaction in older dogs, especially if they are already suffering from respiratory issues.
Purchase extra padding.If you own a large dog you may need to add supplemental padding to whichever bed you choose. This is because the weight and size of your dog may compress the regular padding down to almost nothing, leaving little support for joints. When purchasing the bed see if the manufacturer sells additional padding. If not, you may want to simply put a slab of memory foam underneath the entire bed. Again, try to keep slipping issues in mind.
Pay attention to the accessory options.Try to purchase a bed that comes with a wide variety of accessory options that will allow you to customize everything to your dog’s particular needs. You may be able to purchase an additional cover to help with cleaning. Or, perhaps a hair-repellant cover if your older dog sheds heavily.
Get a washable bed.Cleanliness should be a determining factor in your dog bed purchase. You’ll need to clean the bed at least twice monthly and more so in the event of any accidents. Cleaning helps to prevent any skin or smell issues while also removing potential parasites. Look for a bed that is fully machine washable or one that allows for heavy spot cleaning.
- Buying a waterproof under cover or sheet is also a good idea. This is a plastic-like cover that can go underneath the soft top cover.
- If your mattress starts to accumulate odors, try spot cleaning it with a vinegar and water mixture. Sun can also help to sanitize the bed, but it can also cause damage to foam.
Consider a heated model.Cold is often a senior dog's nemesis. Look for a dog bed that comes with a built-in body heat retention option or a space for a heating blanket attachment. Some beds even come with separate microwaveable heating pads. This is especially comforting for dogs suffering from arthritis.
Make a bed on your own.If nothing on the market suits your tastes or parameters you might try to make your senior dog’s bed yourself. There are various guides online to help you design a bed that combines both form and function. Just keep your dog’s safety and comfort in mind.
- You can make a bed by weaving nylon fabric strips through a raised frame. Another option is to convert a piece of furniture, such as an old open-front TV stand.
- Choose your dog bed color or pattern carefully. A darker color is the best to hide stains but it will also make lighter dog hair show up really well.
- If you will be travelling with your senior dog consider getting a bed that folds up for easy transport. This way your dog can have the comfort of home wherever you go.
- If your senior dog still wants to sleep in bed with you it is advisable to purchase a safety ramp up to your bed for ease of access.
- Check the return policy for bed prior to purchasing. If you order online sending the bed back could cost you a great amount for shipping.
- Make sure that the bed is non-slip overall, especially if it will be placed on tile or a hardwood floor. Look for a non-slip under surface or non-slip pads on the bottom of the bed legs.
- It’s always a good idea to get a bed that has replacement parts available for purchase, if needed. This gives you a bit of peace of mind in case your dog decides to tear into the bed.
Video: Selecting the Right Bed for Your Dog
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