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The best fill material for your dog's bed depends on his health and the amount of odor control needed. Younger dogs still learning the basics of house training probably will do best with fillers that are easy to either launder or replace, while older dogs need filling that offers firm support.
Wood chips are inexpensive and easy to add to your dog's bed regardless of the size or shape. Aromatic chips, such as cedar, absorb doggie odors and repel fleas. Although wood chips offer some padding, they are not as soft and comfortable as other types of fillers and may not offer the support older or injured dogs need. Some dogs may not like the smell or find it irritating and some people are allergic or dislike the scent of wood chips. Aromatic wood also may make it difficult for hunting dogs to use their sense of smell.
Fiber fill or polyester fill frequently is used in pillows and stuffed animals. It adds bulk and softness without the firmness of other materials. Like wood chips, fiber fill is inexpensive and easy to use, and is ideal for beds where the fill might need to be replaced regularly. Fiber fill will hold onto odors and can clump up when washed. It also compacts over time and can make a large mess if your dog rips open the bed and scatters the filling.
Recycled Bedding and Clothes
Old towels, sheets, blankets, T-shirts and just about any other fabric item can be torn into strips and used to fill a dog bed. Recycling these items saves money and benefits the environment by keeping them out of the landfill. Most of the time recycled dog bed filling can be washed and reused if your dog has an accident or if the bed picks up an odor. Large comforters and blankets can be folded and stuffed into the dog bed.
Several types of foam are ideal for dog bed filling, including foam chips, pellets, sheets and memory foam. Chips and pellets are used in the same way as wood chips, but provide additional softness and support. They also allow the bed to shape to your dog's body each time he lays down. Foam sheets, either standard or memory foam, are more difficult to take in and out of a dog bed for cleaning and replacement, but offer excellent support. They are ideal for older dogs with arthritis or for dogs with injuries or recovering from surgery.