Over time, dogs that do not have access to a comfy place to lie down are likely to develop pressure sores and skin disorders. This is especially troublesome for dogs in kennels with hard floors and large dogs that are kept inside homes where couch-dozing is a no-no.
You don’t have to give your pet an over-sized memory foam doggie-bed to make him comfortable, but he does need something soft to lie on. If he lives outside in a hard-surfaced kennel, pine straw can be used in his dog house. It is inexpensive and easy to replace when needed. Another option is burlap sacks filled with cedar chips. This bedding is especially useful in areas prone to high humidity. If your outside dog sleeps in the garage or on the patio, you can give him old blankets to sleep on, or even better, cushion his bedding area with your cast-off blue jeans or sweats. He gets not only the benefit of a soft surface to sleep on, but comfort from your lingering scent. If Poochie has a tendency to scatter his bedding, place the bedding inside a shallow cardboard box or a small kiddie wading pool. Gnawing dogs may need a wooden frame to contain the bedding material.
Dog beds of all shapes and sizes are available for purchase and designed for indoor use, but they are not your only option. You can upcycle many readily available household items to provide cushions for your dogs. These include crib or playpen mattresses and pads, preschool nap mats, yoga mats, old couch or lawn furniture cushions, old pillows and blankets, old sleeping bags and even old bassinets or child beds depending on the size of your dog. If you don’t have any of these stashed away in your garage or attic, check out local thrift stores. Be sure that you cover whichever cushions you choose with sheets or fabric that is easy to remove for washing.
Older dogs and those with health problems are especially in need of soft cushioning to give relief from joint pain and soreness. Cushions made with foam will offer the most support for your old friend. His bed should be low to the ground so he can reach it easily. Also, heated beds are very helpful. There are heated dog beds available for purchase, or you can use a heated car cushion. Just be sure that the electrical cords are not exposed. Heating pads are not recommended because they are not designed to be laid on and may cause minor burns to your dog.
No matter what type of bedding you choose for your dog, you should freshen his bedding area at least once a week. Cushion covers need to be removed and laundered. The cushions themselves should be taken outside and shook . If it is a sunny day, leave them out for half an hour to air them out. Sweep and dust your dog’s bedding area. Also, check for wear and tear on fabric and make sure that there is no evidence that your dog is chewing up his bed. If he is, you may need to try another type of bedding for your pet. It is important to keep your dog’s bedding area free from fleas and ticks, too.
Jenny Newberry, a former teacher with 25 years of experience, is a professional writer and photographer and holds a B.S. and a M.Ed. in elementary and special education from the University of South Alabama. She is also a history buff, praise and worship pianist, pet enthusiast, avid crafter and hobby gardener.