Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to select the best dog bed for your aging companion

If you’re looking for ways to provide comfort for your aging dog then you’ll want to consider creating a new place for him to sleep. Hard floors are difficult on old dogs; particularly those with hip dysplasia. And as dogs age, they have a more difficult time jumping up to lie on a comfy couch or bed. Finding just the right bed for your old friend will bring him comfort and you peace of mind.

There are three key elements to consider when shopping for the best dog bed for an aging dog; warmth, pressure reduction and size.

According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, warmth is very important for dogs with dysplasia; a common ailment in older dogs. Just like people with arthritis, a dog’s pain worsens in damp and cold weather. Be sure to keep an older dog indoors and look for a bed with a heating element. Experts caution not to use a heating pad. Though it will reduce the pain, there is a great risk of burning your dog. A better way to provide warmth for Fido is to place a fleece blanket on the dog bed. It’s easier to pick up the fleece blanket and throw it in the wash than it is to take the cover off the dog bed, wash it and then put it back on.

Pressure Reduction

If you’ve ever had aching shoulders after sitting at a computer for hours you know how good it feels when someone massage the sore spots. Believe it or not, you can offer the same relief to your pet by gently rubbing the joints in a circular motion. If your pooch has to climb stairs to get in and out of the house, you may consider installing a ramp to ease the pain. And if you have throw rugs on a slick kitchen floor, be sure to use carpet tape to tape them down so the dog doesn’t surf across your kitchen. But the easiest thing you can do to reduce pressure in his joints is to provide your best buddy with the best dog bed. Just like in the Goldilocks story it shouldn’t be too soft (it’ll be too difficult for him to get up from it) and it shouldn’t be too hard (that negates the reason for getting the bed). It should be just right. The number one pressure reduction challenge when shopping for a pet bed is that you can’t tell the difference when the beds are new. They all look great. You push down on them and they pop up. But what you’re looking for is the bed that will “pop up” after your 70 pound Golden Retriever or 100 pound Boxer has slept on it many nights. This is one of those instances where other people’s experience and product ratings will go a long way toward making the right purchase.

Most people’s first thought when buying a dog bed is where they are going to put it and how much space there is in that spot for the bed. This is like buying a twin bed for a 6’3”, 200 pound man because the bedroom is fairly small. The bed might fit in the room but the man (or the dog) isn’t going to lie on it. To “fit” your dog for a bed, measure him when he’s laying down. Take his length, add five inches and the ideal bed will be that wide/long at its smallest point. If you invest in a dog bed that isn’t big enough for Fido to lay on and turn around on, you may find him sleeping next to the dog bed and using the dog bed as a pillow! That doesn’t do anything for his aching joints and you just got him a very expensive pillow.

It is so difficult to watch our pets suffer the pain of aging but there are so many great pet products today that enable us to improve their quality of life. Among the most important of these is providing your best friend with the absolute best dog bed you can afford for him. Remember to look for the right combination of warmth, pressure reduction and size.

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