Choosing the perfect bed for your dog is not just about a good night’s rest. It’s about health too. Just as the wrong bed can cause aches, the right one can help to alleviate pains and serve as a preventive measure against joint pain.
Joint diseases and issues are increasingly common amongst dogs, with 60 percent of older dogs known to be suffering from some degree of arthritis. Your pooch's bed could potentially reduce the pain – or make it worse.
According to Dr Sarah Wooten, a veterinarian at Sheep Draw Veterinary Hospital in Greeley, Colorado in the US, the primary function of a dog bed is to prevent a dog from feeling direct pressure from the ground. “If a knee, elbow, or hip is pressing down through the bed and into the hard floor below, the feeling is uncomfortable for any dog, but can be extremely painful for large or older dogs,” as she explains.
Improper bedding could lead to various unfortunate outcomes, including an exacerbation of inflammation and pain, as well as pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, and pressure point pyoderma. Here are some useful tips when selecting bedding for your dog:
If your dog can feel the floor when on the bed – then it's not the right one. Pet owners can test the bed by putting some pressure on it with their hands.
Kneel on the bed and get on your elbows. These are the pressure points, and a good bed will not allow you to feel the floor even when you apply pressure from these areas. An inferior bed may feel similar to sleeping on hardwood floor, which will not be comfortable especially for senior dogs or dogs with arthritis or sore joints.
If you’ve got a heavy hound, avoid mattresses with Polyfill stuffing. While it may look fluffy and comfortable, it is usually not able to support the weight of your dog. In addition, putting weight on such a bed will force the air out, leaving your pooch directly pressing against the floor.
If you're thinking of getting a foam mattress, ensure that there are at least two layers. The top one should be soft and make the bed feel nice to lay on, while the bottom layer should be made of a stiffer, more resilient foam to support the weight of the dog. It's this bottom layer prevents your dog's pressure points from sinking into the floor.
*This article was updated on 12 Apr 2021. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 3 May 2016.