DIY pet beds should be cozy, safe

Melissa Rayworth, AP writer

Homemade pet beds can be practical alternatives to store-bought ones.

Do-it-yourself pet bed projects range from simple sewing patterns to complex woodwork.

But the goal is a safe, customized bed that suits the pet, so that “your furry family members have a cozy plane to curl up,” says Camille Smith, website managing editor for the home design channel HGTV.

Reclaim or start from scratch

Many online tutorials suggest reclaiming a vintage dresser drawer and filling it with a cushion. Woodworker Scott Lavigne came up with a plan to build a custom drawer from scratch for his dog.

“I’m a builder just by nature,” says Lavigne, founder of the blog sawsonskates.com. Creating a sleep space for his Lhasa Apso was a labor of love.

“It’s essentially just building a simple box,” he says. Even those inexperienced at woodworking could likely accomplish it in a weekend.

Lavigne designed his project to fit a standard bed pillow, which can be tossed in the washing machine when necessary. But by changing the size of the pieces of wood used, his drawer project can easily be adapted for large dogs. Detailed instructions are on his blog.

Making it personal

“A huge part of the DIY movement is the ability to adapt and customize an idea to reflect your own personality or needs,” says Design blogger Kelly Mindell, creator of StudioDIY.com.

She customized and revitalized an old dog bed by ironing on emoji shapes that she cut out of iron-on fabric.

“Since emojis are all made of simple shapes like circles, half-moons and hearts, it’s easy to take the concept and change it as desired.”

Lavigne’s project can also be adapted to your preferences by using different paint or stain colors, or choosing to distress the wood for a “shabby chic” look.

Or, make your DIY pet bed match the style of your home.

“For small dogs and cats, you can even upcycle an existing piece of furniture to create a side table that does double duty as a snug spot for curling up,” says Smith.

Safety first

Safety, of course, is more important than how the bed looks.

“Be sure to make your pet’s comfort and safety the top priority,” Smith says. “Ensure your finished bed is extra cozy with no protruding nails or splintered wood.”

Also, make sure before you begin a project that it’s right for your particular pet, keeping the animal’s health in mind.

“For instance, an arthritic older dog may benefit from a memory foam mattress while a padded window perch may be the best cat-nap spot for a curious kitten,” says Smith.