P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You) offers a wide variety of bedding styles in various patterns. The manufacturer’s bedding drop-ship program is especially useful for retailers who don’t have space to display the whole line.

Today’s pet owners are looking to get the best rest for their pet, and they seek out features that will complement their pets’ sleeping habits and offer a sense of security.

Pet owners are becoming more aware of their pets’ individual needs, and beds have evolved with that awareness, said Lisa Hisamune, director of sales at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You), a manufacturer in San Francisco.

“No longer are there just rectangular pillow beds—there are beds designed for pets lounging outdoors, pets who like to burrow or stretch out, and even beds that help with ailments or provide a calming space,” Hisamune said. “There are even beds with a cooling or heating aspect made for pets who live in harsh summers or winters.”

Jon Daugherty, director of product development for Tall Tails, a brand of pet products based in White Plains, N.Y., said that pet owners are making bedding decisions based on what they know about their pets’ sleeping habits as well as what they believe is best for their pets’ overall wellness.

“Products that provide appropriate support, comfort, and the ability to keep the area clean and fresh are trending,” he said. “There is also an interest in temperature control, shape-conforming materials and the ability to use the product indoors or out.”

Tall Tails recently introduced deluxe and classic crate mats that are reversible and machine washable. In addition, the company will be debuting Tall Tails Dream Chaser Cuddle Beds later this year.

“These beds will focus on providing soothing and calming sleep,” Daugherty said. “They offer a full nest configuration, making them safe, secure, and comfy using Real Feel Fabric to simulate the feeling of being huddled together.”

Denise Strong, co-owner of Pawz On Main, a pet store in Cottonwood, Ariz., said that round beds with a soft, plush material that is fully washable tend to sell best at her store. She added that pet owners also care about durability.

“Beds must be able to stand up to paws and claws—and the washing machine, too,” Strong said.

She said that like with other products, pet owners are also looking to fulfill specific needs with the choices they select. As a result, they are giving more attention to the bed design itself. Owners want their pets to be comfortable, but also to feel safe and secure.

“The bed often becomes a place where the pet feels the safest,” Strong continued. “We’ve seen continued interest in cave beds that provide even more of a sense of security.”

Hisamune agreed that pet owners are concerned about the make and design of beds—they want them to have the same quality and structure as human furniture, but also be easily washable. And if a bed is environmentally friendly, that’s even better, she added.

P.L.A.Y. uses its eco-friendly PlanetFill proprietary filler, made from 100 percent post-consumer certified-safe recycled plastic bottles, in its beds.

Matt O’Leary, owner of Felix & Oscar, a pet store in Springfield, Va., said that many pet owners—but particularly millennials and generation Zers—are more concerned with sustainability when shopping for beds at his store.

“They want to know that the bed was made from eco-friendly materials that can be recycled or reused,” O’Leary said. “That goes into more shoppers’ buying decisions these days.”

For those customers who are looking for high-end and luxurious options for their pets, the market delivers in that respect as well.

BuddyRest is getting ready to debut a super-premium line of dog beds using top-quality, performance leathers.

“This new collection will truly epitomize quality, luxury and the latest technology,” said Trevor Crotts, CEO of Wichita, Kan.-based BuddyBrands, maker of BuddyRest.


Making the Most of the Display Area

Given their size and bulkiness, arranging pet beds for display in a pet shop is not an easy task, and retailers reported that this can be one of the biggest challenges with the category.

“You obviously can’t display everything, so you have to be somewhat selective but still show a decent variety,” said Matt O’Leary, owner of Felix & Oscar, a pet store in Springfield, Va.

In terms of selecting colors, O’Leary said that they intentionally keep the beds on display in a relatively neutral palette, as this seems to appeal to the most shoppers. Earth tones are always popular, he added.

Lisa Hisamune, director of sales at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You), a manufacturer in San Francisco, suggested having some different designs and sizes of beds on display, and then printing a showcase sheet of the rest—with swatches available for customers to see and touch.

“Since we offer a bedding drop-ship program, retailers can offer customers essentially our whole line without having to inventory the beds,” she said. “This way, their customers can pick and choose exactly the style they want and hopefully see the different sizes at the store to make a good decision on the bed that will fit their home and their pet’s size. We ship the bed to the store at no extra cost, and this gives a reason for the customer to come back to the store to pick up the bed and hopefully other things they may need.”

It’s important to keep the shopping experience organized, added Jon Daugherty, director of product development for Tall Tails, a brand of pet products based in White Plains, N.Y.

“Beds can be big and unruly at point of purchase, and consumers can make a quick mess as they sort through what they are looking for,” Daugherty said. “Maintain the space. Also help educate the consumer on what type and size bed may be best for their dog. Determine the weight, size, and sleeping style of the pet and pair that with the appropriate size and style bed. Retailers should also take full advantage of a Tall Tails bedding fixture. It organizes the beds, provides space for cross-merchandising blankets and provides a shopping guide for pet owners.”


Don’t Forget Cat Owners

Some manufacturers and retailers expressed that the experience of shopping for cat beds can differ from shopping for dog beds.

“Cats’ sleep patterns are different than dogs’,” said Lisa Hisamune, director of sales at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle And You), a manufacturer in San Francisco. “They tend to sleep more in the daytime when their humans are more active. While their humans’ laps and laptops are their favorite place to snooze, many cats also like to be perched in high places or a den so they can hide away and get some much-needed rest. We find that our Snuggle Bed that can be shaped into a plushy mat, round doughnut bed or used as a burrow bed is the most popular bed we have for cats. Cats love our plush fabric to knead on and the fact that they can curl up into it or burrow inside of it, too.”

Cats also tend to like the company’s Chill Pad, Hisamune said.

“Plush fabrics that they can knead into and [beds that] can easily be put in a high place that the cat feels safe sleeping on will sell best in general,” she added. “Cats also like places they can hide away in, so a cave or burrow bed will be a popular choice for cats.”

Matt O’Leary, owner of Felix & Oscar, a pet store in Springfield, Va., said that many cat owners are seeking beds that their cat can curl up in.

“The majority of cats do curl up when sleeping, so their owners are looking for something snuggly that has a comfy feel for curling up in,” he said. “However, there are always those cats that do like to sleep sprawled out, like a dog, so retailers still need larger bed options to meet those needs.”