A pups bed is a special place, just like how a crate can be a safe space – your furry friend’s bed is the go-to spot for comfort and relaxing sleep. I’ve spoken with plenty of dog owners over the course of my time spent at markets and festivals. The common frustration that I hear amongst them is the smell and the heat their current beds retain, along with the constant cycle of replacing beds and the waste they create.

When I really started to think about this common trend amongst pawrents, I found myself doing research and looking into the “Why?” The answer is actually fairly simple – All one needs to do is take a closer look at the tag, and understand the statements and warnings that are right “in front” of you. 

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, better than humans and even more than cats. Dogs have 300 million receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans. But Kylie you ask, what does this heightened sense of smell have to do with their pet bed? Well, let’s dive deeper into that shall we. Past that cozy softcover, on the inside of your bed is a filling most commonly known as Polyfill. The more that you understand about this product the more obvious your frustrations will be to you. 

Polyester fibrefill (polyfill or brand name Poly-fil) is a synthetic fibre derived from coal, air, water, and petroleum. Polyester/polyurethane = plastic. Developed in the 20th-century to mimic the properties of natural fibres like cotton, wool and down; polyester fibres are formed from a chemical reaction between an acid and alcohol.

To put it plainly the standard pet beds that you find at your big box stores are stuffed using polyurethane; plastic and toxic, human-made chemicals in a factory. These chemicals have a smell that is not obvious to humans but can be picked up easily by dogs. The chemicals in polyfill break down and become airborne over time, meaning that your pup breathes them in when they are sleeping. These chemicals can also be absorbed through the skin. If you look at the tags on these beds you will find some very obvious warnings. “Not intended for use by children.” “Remove bed immediately if torn or damaged” “Seek veterinary attention if ANY material is ingested.”
If you are like me I am sure you’re asking yourself, why are we allowed to use these products in our home if they are so unsafe? The answer, our pet industry is severely unregulated. I mean just look at rawhide chews, and what’s come to light about what actually goes into our pet’s food recently. Following its introduction to the United States in 1951, polyester quickly became the country’s fastest-growing fibre replacing its natural alternatives due to its economical cost and convenience. Polyfill is cheap to produce but the carbon footprint and conditions in which it is made, not to mention the amount of it still existing in our landfills is sad to think about it.

So what makes my beds different?
The key, again, is in the filling.

After the discovery of polyfill and all of its downfalls, my research stumbled upon an all-natural fibre called Kapok. Believe it or not, this incredible fibre was very common before polyfill existed. The first known use for Kapok was in 1939 when it was used in the life preservers of G.I.s in World War II. Unlike polyfill beds that retain heat, smells and are a breeding ground for bacteria – Kapok fibre is environmentally friendly, and also safe for your dog! Kapok fibre is lightweight, non-allergenic, non-toxic, naturally anti-bacterial, resistant to rot and odourless. Learn more about this all-natural and sustainable fibre.
For creatures that are sensitive to smells, or have allergies the hypoallergenic properties of Kapok are perfect for them. The same goes for dogs with anxiety, Kapok is super fluffy and conforms to your pups shape. The dimples in my bed shells create that “hug” feeling, leaving your doggo feeling safe and loved.
At the same time, I know that Kapok is not right for everyone, if your pup has incontinence issues, or is young and still potty training then choosing to stuff your own is a great alternative. I love the stuff-your-own style especially for fosters or rescues as you can use blankets that have their scent already combined with your own to allow them to become comfortable and reduce stress. Textiles like blankets, towels, or even your off-seasonal clothing make for great stuffing! You can always choose to stuff your Former Fibres pet bed shell with Kapok later on, when your new family member is ready.
Whether you choose Kapok or your own textiles, you can rest easy knowing that your pup has a safe space to call their own, and know that you’re doing your part to help the environment too.