WORDS BY Emily Fowler
Whether it’s for snoozing or just watching the world go by, pet beds are an important purchase for your customers, and they come with a number of benefits for both the animal and the owner. When you’re deciding on stock, pet beds are an essential requirement, and providing a wide range of sizes, styles and price ranges means that your customers can choose the perfect bed for their pet’s requirements, as well as meeting their own needs in terms of convenience, home décor and budget. While dog and cat beds will be the highest sellers, owners of small furries will also be interested in beds for their pets, so check out beds of all sizes.
Benefits for pets
Their own bed gives pets a space of their own – somewhere to curl up and snooze away from the hustle and bustle of the family home. This is particularly important for cats because they need their own private spaces (particularly high up) to feel secure, so cat owners are always advised to put beds in different places and at different levels throughout their home. Designs like igloo beds and cave beds are a popular choice among clued-up cat owners, as they give cats the privacy and security they look for. It’s even more important for customers with multi-cat households to make sure they’ve got enough beds, and the recommendation for buying things like litter trays and beds is one per cat plus one extra, to avoid territorial aggression and resource guarding.
All pets enjoy a comfy bed, but senior and infirm pets have specific needs when it comes to how and where they sleep. As well as having more delicate skin and less padding to keep them comfy on harder surfaces, older pets are going to feel the cold much more than younger animals, so keeping them warm and insulated from cold floors is really important. Things like thermal blankets, heated pads for beds and even beds that are heated themselves are always good to stock, and not just for older pets – you’ll find customers with pets of all ages will be attracted to products that make their pets’ lives cosier. Beds that enclose pets, like doughnut beds, are great for preserving body heat and keeping animals nice and warm while they nap.
Benefits for owners
Giving pets a bed of their own isn’t just good for the animal – it’s great for their owners’ home furnishings too. As well as the issue of fur shedding on human beds and sofas, dogs are likely to chew on their sleeping place, and cats like to stretch and scratch when they wake up. By encouraging them to sleep on/in their own piece of furniture, your customers’ pets can fidget, drool, scratch and shed as much as they need to, without causing any damage to the human family’s furniture.
Hygiene is also a factor in choosing a dedicated pet bed, with many having removable covers or cushions that are easy to throw in the washing machine on a regular basis (if the whole bed isn’t washable itself), unlike the average human furniture! Pets that go outside are naturally going to end up with dirt and bacteria on their paws, so their own washable bed is the best way to control the spread of any nasties they might have picked up outdoors.
Pet beds throughout history
Animals in the wild look for particular spots to sleep, so it’s natural that as the wild became the domesticated, humans started learning more about their pets’ needs and providing for them. For example, feral and wild cats will always look for a protected area to sleep in safety, where they can easily keep an eye out for approaching predators, which is why enclosed cat beds are so popular. Similarly, a dog sleeping outdoors will circle their chosen sleeping spot a few times to warm up the cold ground and stamp down any vegetation, then dig slightly into the earth to be able to regulate their body temperature whether it’s cold (using the earth to keep them warm) or hot (uncovering the cooler earth under the top layers).
While caring owners are happy to spend money making sure their pets are warm and comfortable, there’s always one, like Owney the Post Office dog in 1800s Albany, New York¹, that chooses something slightly different. Adopted by a group of postal clerks when he was abandoned by his owner, he chose the office’s mailbags as his bed, even following them as they travelled by rail around the United States.
As different types of pets came in and out of fashion throughout the ages, new and improved beds and accessories were designed. Most significantly in terms of dog beds was probably in 18th Century France, where dogs sometimes had cushions made specially for them to sleep on, and King Louis XI took things a step further for his greyhound Mistodin. Not only did he commission a lavish bed for his dog, he even had miniature doggy nightclothes made to keep Mistodin warm at night!²