If your dog is sneezy, itchy and uncomfortable, there could be a number of reasons. Allergies, external parasites, poor-quality food, overly dry air, infection or disease, and the wrong shampoo can all cause or exacerbate sensitive skin issues.
If your dog is noticeably itchy or has an obvious skin condition, your first step should be to have your veterinarian evaluate the situation. They can help determine the reason for your dog’s skin issue and prescribe an appropriate treatment.
There are many things you can try if your pet is found to have an environmental allergy (i.e., not food related), and a hypoallergenic dog bed is an option you might want to consider. The last thing you want is for your bed to be making you miserable, and the same idea extends to where your dog spends up to 12–14 hours per day. There are a number of reasons the bed might play a role in your pet’s constant itching.
Mites might be it
Some dogs are allergic to dust mites, and an unwashed or old dog bed can house tens of thousands of the microscopic little critters. According to the Mayo Clinic, dust mites are close relatives of ticks and spiders that eat dead skin cells. They thrive in warm, humid environments, and such items as bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting provide an ideal environment for dust mites. This includes your dog’s bed.
If your dog is allergic to dust mites, you might notice
- Bald and irritated spots from excessive scratching and licking
- Red and watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Excessive snoring
- Dry, flaky or red skin
Is it the filling or the fabric?
A typical dog bed can be made of many materials; the outer coverings can be anything from polyester to synthetic fur. And while the interior stuffing is made of synthetic material like memory foam that may be resistant to allergens, if moisture is present or if the outer covering is porous, these fillings can foster the growth of all types of allergens, from mites to mold. The interior and the exterior work in concert: if the exterior lets allergens penetrate, the interior will be susceptible. Some pets are simply allergic to the fabric on the exterior. If it’s a synthetic material, it likely won’t cause an allergy, but it can be irritating.
Hypoallergenic might be the way to go
If you suspect dust mites to be the problem, it can’t hurt to try a hypoallergenic dog bed. But there are reasons to try one even if dust mites aren’t the culprit. Hypoallergenic beds are made to ward off mites and other things, like mold and mildew, that can cause allergic reactions in your pet. They tend to be made without chemically treated fabrics, because these can also cause irritation.
Hypoallergenic beds come covered in finely woven fabrics that prevent dust mites from penetrating into the foam insert, which is nice because those inserts generally aren’t supposed to be washable. According to PetMD.com, fabrics made of 100 percent cotton, hemp or tightly woven microfiber fabric are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, and those with a denser foam mattress are less likely to harbor dust mites.
A new (or like-new) bed is the best idea
Hypoallergenic beds also come with easily removable covers that can be washed regularly, which is a big reason they can reduce allergens. Washing or replacing any dog bed regularly is a smart idea. Just make sure that the cover and bedding (if washable) are 100 percent dry before putting them back together. A moist dog bed will only exacerbate a problem.
If your dog is allergic to dust mites, changing to a hypoallergenic dog bed won’t solve the entire problem, because dust mites are everywhere in your home. But it can certainly help reduce the number of mites he or she is dealing with. If your dog is allergic to the fabric of their current bed, or you suspect mold or mildew could be the culprit, a hypoallergenic bed is certainly something to try. In addition to consulting with your veterinarian, of course.