The choices in dog beds these days can be a bit overwhelming. Tons of styles, thicknesses, colors and materials from which to choose can make picking out a bed for your dog a confusing chore rather than a pleasure.

Before we get into a discussion of how to choose a good bed for your dog, let’s simplify this even further. If you could only go by one attribute when purchasing a bed for you dog, this would be it…

The bed must be washable, preferably with a cover that is removable and washable and it’s even better if the whole bed is washable. Experts recommend that you wash your dog’s bed on a regular basis, twice a month or even weekly.

With today’s washing machines that have no agitator in the center, many machines can handle the smaller to medium sized dog beds without a problem. With larger beds, you are going to likely need to use a commerical washer available at your local laundromat.

Keeping your dog’s bed clean is a must to control fleas, odors and dirt.

Most dogs seem to really appreciate something in terms of cushioning between themselves and the floor, especially as they get older. Here are some bed types and their pros and cons:

Dog mats – these mat beds are handy as they are easily washed but they provide the least amount of cushioning for your dog. Some owners like to put a mat down on the inside of their dog’s crate rather than outfitting it with a full dog bed. Mats are very convenient to take with you when traveling as well.

Dog hammocks – These beds have a frame made from plastic, wood or metal and the actual bed is suspended, hammock style from the frame. The elevated nature of these beds gets dogs off cold floors but really don’t provide much padding. They are good for young dogs and for owners who live where the weather is warm.

Loose Fill Dog Beds – These beds are essentially dog pillows. While they do provide cushioning, the loose fill can bunch up and even break down as the bed gets older. Fill ranges from polyester, to cotton batting and even bean bag foam beads.

Some offer cedar filling but we don’t recommend those as some dogs are sensitive to cedar. Senior dogs who are arthritic can benefit from the warmth and extra cushioning these beds provide, but you should opt for a well made and more expensive model to make sure it won’t fall apart.

Foam/Mattress Type Beds – These are the most expensive of the choices, but some can be had for a reasonable price, especially if your dog is smaller. Some owners choose a human type memory foam bed for their dog but there have been concerns raised over off gassing of chemicals from these beds. But if you have a senior dog who is chronically ill or suffers from arthritis, this type of bed may be the best choice. Be sure it’s pet approved before purchasing.

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