DIY Dog Bed for Senior Dogs

I have a 10-1/2-year-old Collie who is just the sweetest thing in the world, and compared to others of her breed, her health is remarkable for her age.  She still runs around the yard and barks and plays like a puppy at times, so much so that sometimes I forget how old she is.  A couple of years ago, she started having a little bit of joint stiffness during colder weather, but it’s really started to kick in this year.  It’s not even hit the 30s here yet, and she’s really showing how sore she is.

So what’s a girl to do?  I purchased her a bed about six months ago that seemed all perfectly fluffy at the store, and when it had been laid on for about 3 days, it completely de-poufed.  As in, she was sinking so far that she was basically laying on the floor with the stuffing all around her.

She needed a really good supportive bed for her joints, but they can be so expensive – for a dog her size, easily upwards of $150, and it still might not turn out to last all that well.

After spotting some great sales at my local JoAnn’s, I loaded up my coupons and headed out to get the supplies I would need to make my own.  In all, I spent just under $62 (they were having some awesome sales!).  Not bad considering the alternative.

Materials

  • 2 yards 54″-wide outdoor fabric, or other heavy-duty fabric of your choice (I chose outdoor fabric in the hopes that it will repel any accidents that may happen.  My tiny schnauzer has a habit of, ahem, regurgitating on beds that are not her own.  Not cool.)
  • 2 yards 3″ thick foam padding (the green stuff – they will cut this to size at the fabric counter for you)
  • Heavy-duty thread
  • Appropriate sewing machine needle for heavy-duty fabrics
  • 64 ounces polyester fiberfill

Step 1)  Decide the size you would like the bed to be:  I had a cover from a previous bed that I wanted to go over the new one, so I chose to use the measurements of that cover:

  • Width = 33″
  • Length = 42″
  • Height = 3-3/4″

If you are using your own cover for starting measurements, always go with the smallest measurement if there are any variations in length or width (i.e., some parts of the cover measured 33″ wide, some measured 33.5″ wide).

Step 2)  Cut pieces:  Add an inch to each measurement for seam allowances.  If you are following my measurements, fold your fabric in half and cut the following pieces, using the diagram below to show you where to make your cuts on your fabric – make sure your folded edge is in the right spot – do not cut folded edge:

a) 2 pieces for top and bottom – 34″ x 43″ (width x length)
b) 2 side pieces – 43″ x 4-3/4″ (length x height)
c) 2 end pieces – 34″ x 4-3/4″ (width x height)

Step 3)  Start sewing:

  1. Important Note:  Use a 1/2″ seam allowance at all times.
  2. Take one piece “a” and one piece “b“.  Place right sides facing and stitch a hem along one long side.  Repeat with second “b” piece on opposite side of same “a” piece.  Press seams open.  (Note:  You may wish to pin the fabric in place before stitching.  Personally, pins just get in my way, so I skip them a lot of the time.  However, if you are a new or novice sewer, I would recommend using them.)
  3. Using same piece “a” as in previous step, take one piece “c” and place right sides facing on one unsewn edge between hems for pieces “b” from previous step.  It may be a little too long.  That’s okay – just overlap each hem by an equal amount, but start and end stitching at hems – don’t go past.  It should look like this: Repeat with second “c” piece on opposite end.  Press seams.
  4. Add backing:  Place one long side of backing piece to long side of second piece “b“, right sides together; stitch.  Repeat, matching the opposite side of backing piece to second “b” piece.  After this, you should essentially have a giant tube.  It will look kind of like a giant pillow case with openings on both ends.  Repeat again with ONE shorter end, starting and stopping at the seams as on the top piece, leaving the corners of the casing pieces unstitched – we’ll come back to those later.  Here’s a hint:  If you hold the casing piece on top while you stitch, it will be much easier.  (Be careful not to catch any unwanted fabric in your stitches!)  Leave the other end unsewn until the bed has been stuffed.
  5. Stitch corners:  Starting on one corner of the closed end, match up the edges of the unsewn corner and stitch.  You may want to stitch again for reinforcement.  To do this, just put another row of stitches 1/4″ outside your seam (toward the cut edge of the fabric).  This is extra reassurance for you, just in case Poochie puts on a few pounds this winter.  In fact, you can do this to all your seams if you so desire – it’s up to you.  Repeat with the other corner on finished end.  Just a heads up: This is where my bobbin ran out (and I started with a full one), so you may want to check yours.
  6. We’re going to leave the other two corners and the opening unsewn for the time being to prepare the stuffing.

Step 4)  Stuffing:  Measure the width and length of the finished cover:

  • width = 33″
  • length = 42″

Now, subtract an inch from each number (trust me – it will be much easier to stuff if you do this), and, using a serrated knife, cut a piece of the foam the length of the bed – beware fingers and surfaces!:

  • width = 32″
  • length = 41″

Now, measure the width of the cut piece.  I needed my foam to be 32″ wide, but my foam was only 24″ wide.  To use the foam best, I cut two 6″ pieces of foam and cut them to reach a combined length that matched that of the bigger piece.  So, for the project, I used 60″ total of 24″‘-wide, 3″-thick foam.  I had purchased 2.5 yards, so I actually have enough left to make another smaller bed that would measure 31″ x 24″.

Step 6)  Stuff the bed:  Put the foam in first, unstitched hem on the bottom of the bed.  Now, if you only want a foam bed, skip to finishing the cover.  My baby, however, likes a really thick, fluffy bed (she’s not high maintenance AT ALL), so I’m going to put some fiberfill in the top.  Only fill it about 3/4 of the way.

Step 7)  Finishing:  Start hand sewing up your seam, however you prefer.  I don’t have the patience to make my stitches blind, so I just stitch a cute (albeit somewhat childlike) topstitch, making sure the seam is strong.  I have a cover that’s going over this, so honestly, I wasn’t really worried about appearance, but feel free to stitch the end shut however you want.

Voila! You’re done!  You wanna know the best part of the whole project?  Putting your feet up together when it’s done.

.-Shannon

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2 thoughts on “DIY Dog Bed for Senior Dogs

  1. kiki looks like a sweetheart! isn’t it nice to see your dog so comfy?! she obviously loves that bed 🙂 i made some similar beds a few years ago, and they’ve become the favourite of our oldest dog, who is 13 and recently had knee surgery – he just loves them and whines if our other dog is hogging them. guess i’ll have to make some more 🙂

    • That’s so cute. Kiki is an absolute sweetie. She was rescued from her previous owners who had bred her and then just left her outside in all kinds of horrible conditions. Like every pet owner in the world, I think mine are just the most special there could possibly be. 🙂

      Hope your pooch is feeling better – it’s hard for them when they get old!

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