Image via Javier Brosch/Shutterstock.com
By Paula Fitzsimmons
If you’re living with a sneezing, itchy dog, her bed may be to blame. Dog beds, especially if not regularly washed and replaced, can be a major source of dust mites, which can trigger your dog’s allergy symptoms.
If you suspect that your dog is allergic to something in your home, learn how her bed may be harboring allergens—and more importantly, how choosing the right type of bed can provide relief.
Why Your Dog’s Bed May Be Triggering Her Allergies
If your dog is allergic to her bed, the filling is likely the culprit. “Some of the contents can cause an allergic reaction, especially if the dog has had the bed for a long period of time. Over time, there can be an increase in house dust mites and even fleas,” says Dr. Mitchell Song, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist with VetMed in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dog beds are usually filled with synthetic or latex memory foam. Although both of these are resistant to the growth of house dust mites and molds, they can still be problematic. “It’s the accumulation of pet skin cells on the surface of the foam and under the fabric covering that allows the growth of house dust mites. While the foam beddings will not facilitate the growth of house dust mites or molds within the foam, they may accumulate on the surface if skin cells and moisture are present,” says Dr. John Gordon, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist with MedVet in Columbus, Ohio.
Choose the Right Outer Fabric
Dog beds and mats come in a variety of outer fabrics, including suede, shag faux fur, micro suede shearling, cotton, wool and polyester, says Dr. Song. Although the bed’s filling is usually the source of allergens, experts say some fabrics are more likely to trigger your dog’s allergies than others.
“Manufacturing synthetic fabrics requires certain chemicals and processes. These chemicals, such as flame retardants, are known to be allergenic. Some fabrics also allow the accumulation of dust mites, mold, mildew and bacteria that can exacerbate skin sensitivities,” says Dr. Hyunmin Kim, veterinary staff manager for the ASPCA Community Medicine Department.
Fabrics made of 100 percent cotton, hemp or tightly woven microfiber fabric are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, she says. “Hemp is a naturally grown crop that is not sprayed with chemicals or pesticides and is particularly resistant to mildew, sun damage and tears.”