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Buying Guide: Finding A Good Pet Bed For A Dog Or Cat (PHOTOS)

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Just like us, pets love a good, comfy bed. But when it comes to buying a bed for cats or dogs, a visit to the pet superstore shows that there are many styles at wide-ranging price points. Is there really a difference between a $20 pillow versus a $150 full-on bed? That's what we set to find out. And it turns out that a good pet bed is based on one key feature: Does your pet like to sprawl out or curl up in a ball?

Aside from making sure that a pet bed is big enough to fit your dog/cat and that the bed is easy to clean and washable, here are some other general things to keep in mind when browsing for a pet bed.

Know the dog bed types. For dogs that enjoy rolling around and sleeping on their backs, a standard large round or square pillow-type bed is a failsafe option since these are soft, roomy and above all, spacious. For dogs that are especially active (or are seniors), an orthopedic bed with firm foam construction will provide almost-custom support to the body. However, if your pup likes to curl up into a ball, a nesting bed that has high sides will function almost like a hug, prompting them to cuddle up in comfort.

Important for cat beds. What's most important in a cat bed is one that keeps it warm during the winter and cool in the summer. A cup-shaped bed or a warm mat is a good option for cold months, allowing the cat the curl up to retain body heat. Even better, a bed with a (safe) heating element. In the summer, an open-sided pet bed will let your kitty stretch out and cool off.

Bed placement is important. Before buying a bed, know where your pet likes to lie down by observing its sleeping habits -- for example, your dog may prefer quieter corners where they can hide but still see everything that's going on or your cat may prefer a bed by the windowsill. They may like having a pad that's next to the sofa where there are a lot of people. Find out your pet's favorite spots before you commit to a bed so that you get the right size for your pet.

Material. For dogs, a denim cover over a bed is best. The material is heavy-duty and machine washable, but it also doesn't wear as quickly as fleece. For cats, the same holds true...just avoid any hanging fabric or ends because kitties have a tendency to try to eat these.

Go with sides. Unless you're going with a mattress-style bed or simple padding, get a bed that has raised sides for your pet. Regardless of whether it's a cat or a dog, pets enjoy beds that are snug and make them feel secure, and the raised sides provide that sense of coziness and security. Or, go with beds that have roofs, which can calm anxious animals. One exception: If your pet is a senior, nix the sides, which might get in their way.

For some of our pet bed picks, click through the slideshow. And if there are beds that have worked exceptionally well for your pets, let us know in comments below.


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