The best bedding to keep your dog warm during cold weather depends on the location of her bed. Invest in suitable bedding for your indoor bed or outdoor dog house to keep your dog healthy, happy and clean and minimize veterinary bills.
If your dog lives and sleeps indoors, you have several options to choose from. For a large- or medium-sized dog, an old hollow fiber-filled duvet or comforter slipped inside a loose, washable cover and folded twice is perfect. Your dog can scratch it into position to make the nest she wants, or lie flat out on it, depending on how cold it is indoors. A soft dog- or child's blanket is also suitable, while a pile of old clothes works well if you don't have cash to spend.
Dogs that live outdoors in cold weather need bedding with higher levels of insulation and moisture-resistance. A layer of fresh, clean hay from grasses such as big bluestem, Indian grass, smooth brome and Timothy provides good cushioning. Straw works well, but breaks down more rapidly than fresh hay, so it requires more frequent changes to avoid creating dust and becoming hard. The dog can make her nest directly on top of the hay, or you can add a blanket or other soft covering for additional warmth. A layer of wood chips or shavings beneath the hay or straw helps to keep the bed warm by providing drainage for limited quantities of moisture.
Age and Health
Older dogs, whether they live indoors or out, typically need softer bedding once they begin to develop age-related health issues. Arthritis pain, for example, generally worsens during cold weather, so older dogs with this condition need extra insulation and support. A length of foam rubber makes a warm, pliable mattress for a large dog, while small dogs will enjoy a cushion made from foam rubber chips. Cover the mattress or cushion with a soft blanket or duvet, or a hygienic sheepskin cover.
During cold weather, dogs track snow and moisture on their beds on their paws and fur. This causes the development of mold on the hay or straw, which should be changed weekly during dry weather and more often when it is damp. Wash the duvet, comforter or blanket every week to remove hair and dander, and to keep dogs with allergies healthy. Dry the bedding thoroughly to keep the dog warm. A scattering of cedar wood chips or sawdust helps to keep the bed smelling fresh and repels ticks and fleas.
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.