Are Pet Beds made in China Safe?
After the catastrophic loss of life of dogs and cats in 2007, one thing became very clear. China suppliers and the American companies that used them didn’t care about your pets. They cared about their bottom line.
Think about it–if a human gets sick or dies because of a dangerous product, a company can get sued for millions upon millions of dollars. But if a pet gets sick and dies, how much will they get sued for? Pretty much the cost the pet owner paid for the pet.
You can imagine the kind of perverse incentives this sets up for big corporations. Instead of paying a little more for a supplier in the US who work with materials sourced from clean and safe places, they subcontract out to the lowest bidder from a country that’s riddled with pollution and where the government has no concern for human welfare, much less animal welfare. By contracting out to these low bidders, they do a “risk-reward” calculation in their head. If a few animals get sick or die, it probably can’t be traced back to them, and if it is, the profit they made will more than cover the cost of the lawsuits. It’s sick.
What’s even sicker? If you look at the sellers of the top 25 most popular dog beds on Amazon, here are the “brands” you see.
Which Dog Bed Brands to Avoid
“Bedsure Comfy Pet” – Sounds like an all-American brand, right? But all of the profits goes to a company in China called SHEN JUN TRADING LIMITED.
“Best Friends by Shari” – Sherry Samani formed a company called Sentiments, Inc. in 2006 which makes a “Calming Donut Bed” that looks cute on Instagram, but is entirely made in China with China materials.
“Midwest Homes for Pets” – They call themselves “the largest US-headquartered home builder for pets” which started in 1921. But “US-headquartered” looks like it just means that a handful of people in Indiana are managing for thousands of dollars to go to China to manufacture their dog beds.
VeeHoo – Owned by an Amazon store called Bai Hu Cheng in Hubei province (yes, the same province that brought you COVID)
Amazon Basics – Amazon is the worst offender when it comes to empowering manufacturers in China by taking the cheap crap that they make and slapping the Amazon logo on it to give it legitimacy.
Furhaven – This company I don’t get. The form mattress is made in the USA, and they tout that as a point of pride. But the cover and the overall assembly is still done in China.
Friends Forever – Another all-American sounding name, but it’s strange how you can’t find any information about this brand online.
MIXJOY – The name of this seller is, I kid you not, xia men hao yong chen mao yi you xian gong si, from Fujian.
BarkBox – Another company trading in on its famous name to support cheap manufacturing in China
Love’s Cabin – Sold by a seller called Suzhou Ruiyangtian Trading Co., Ltd.
K&H Pet Products – A legitimate brand that, like some of those above, decided to send all their manufacturing to China.
BEAUTYHB – The front name for Guangzhou zhuorui biotechnology co. LTD
Sadly, these 12 company probably represent close to 80% – 90% of all dog beds sold on Amazon. Clueless consumers look at the pretty pictures of dogs curled up on their beds and names like “Friends Forever”, look at the lowest cost product they can find, and throw their money at them, which ultimately feeds the best.
The aftermath of 2007
You’d think after 2007 that no self-respecting dog product company would touch manufacturing in China, but clearly so many of these companies had short memories and decided to continue to pour money into China.
And yet more than I’ve seen in other industries, several US-based companies stood up. They insisted on manufacturing in the USA, with US-sourced materials.
What’s more, many of these companies tried to sound alarms about China manufacturing. Big Barker posted this informative article that cited a study that showed how foam in dog beds made in China contained toxins including antimony, arsenic, bromine, chlorine, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, PBDE, phthalates, and tin. Any of which can hurt your dog as he or she lies in bed throughout the day, breathing in the residue. And worse, the US government doesn’t even regulate the use of toxins or chemicals in dog beds.
And yet this news was ignored by the media and received by the public with a collective yawn and the cognitive dissonance that seems to be a way of life these days. These studies must all be lies, because a nice company like Amazon wouldn’t push low quality products on us, right? Especially when these products come with such adorable Instagram-friendly photos?
Manufacturers who “get it”
Happily, for every company that was foolish enough to repeat the mistakes of the past by doubling down their use of China as a single source supplier, there are also companies that are making efforts to diversify their supply chains. Here are some of the highlights.
1. Big Barker – Best for Large Dogs
Big Barker has the distinction of being the only brand that shows up on every “best of” list in my research. There is clear consensus that it’s one of the best dog beds made in the USA, which means that it’s also one of the best dog beds made anywhere. It was invented by Eric Shannon in 2012 in Pennsylvania when he realized how underserved large dogs were in the marketplace. Their beds continue to be made out of Pennsylvania and Delaware today.
Big Barker is one of the only brands that states unabashedly that not only are their beds assembled in the USA (in Pennsylvania, to be precise), but all of the materials are sourced from the USA as well, including the various layers of mattress-grade American foam and even down to the American made zippers (made in one of the older zipper factories in the US). They’re the only major dog bed manufacturer I researched who made the unequivocal claim that nothing in their product was from China. They state boldly that “Big Barker will only ever make beds in America. Our reputation is our most important asset”. The more I find out about this company, the more impressed I am. If only every American company that was trading its reputation to enrich its executives could have the same attitude.
Their mattresses come in Large (48″ x 30″ x 7″) for large dogs like Labradors, Boxers, Golden Retrivers, Pit Bulls, Huskies, and all other dogs under 25 inches tall. They come in extra large (52″ x 36″ x 7″) for dogs like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Newfoundlands, and Mastiffs. And they come in Giant XXL (60″ x 48″ x 7″) for Great Danes specifically.
One of the top veterinary schools, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, did a study that showed that these dog beds significantly improved the quality of life for big dogs, helping them improve joint function, reduce pain, and reduce joint stiffness. Anyone who’s owned a big dog knows that especially as they get older, joint problems are a big concern.
These beds come with a 10 year warranty and are Certi-PUR-USA certified, meaning that they are thoroughly tested to make sure the material is free from harmful materials such as lead, arsenic, or other materials that are common among cheaply made dog beds, including a lot of the stuff coming out of China from Chinese and American brands.
These beds are not cheap at anywhere from $280 to $439. But when you think about how much humans pay for their mattresses, and consider that Big Barker uses human-quality material and unlike other dog bed companies does not skimp on materials or craftsmanship, you’ll realize it’s actually a pretty good bargain. After all, if your dog could spend money, you know he’d get the best for you, right?
2. Majestic Bagel Bed – Best for Small Dogs
These “Bagel Beds” are exactly what they sound like: round beds with raised sides that form the shape of a bagel.
This bed (specifically the Suede Bagel Dog Bed) does have the distinction of being named the best overall bed by Wirecutter, as well as being listed to most of the “top” lists I researched. Aside from being oh-so-cozy, these beds feature a support system that helps support and straighten dog’s spines and promotes better sleep.
It’s available for sale at most popular retailers of pet products, including Amazon and Walmart. But I would strongly suggest that you buy directly from their site so you can deal directly with the company instead of going through retail sites that may or may not do a great job at policing counterfeits. On Majestic’s site, you’ll see a much larger selection of styles and colors as well.
Majestic Pet Products was founded in 1994 out of Irvine, California. They began making dog collars and leashes, and then went on to make other high quality and innovative products.
This dog bed is their best seller. It comes in four sizes, for Small (10-25 pound dogs), Medium (25-40 pound dogs), Large (40-70 pound dogs) and Oversize (70-110 pound dogs). The Small is their most popular and is perfect for dogs who love to curl up in a cozy little ball. The beds range from $40-$100, so they’re definitely affordable.
They are a bit coy with their country of origin information. There’s no mention of country of origin on their own site. If you look through Amazon’s old Q&As, as of 2017 the beds were “made and packaged in California with fabric imported from China”. But in recent months their product is labeled “made in Mexico”. I’d definitely suggest you reach out to them first before you make a purchase, and if they tell you the bed is not made in China, get it (but if they tell you it is, explain to them why you’re not interested).
3. Dog Bed King Cuddlers – Most economical
Dog Bed King is another ubiquitous top pick. These are also made in the USA out of Illinois, although I wish the company were a little more forthright on its Web site and its Amazon listing about the details. They cost $33, $41, and $52 for Medium, Large, and XML sizes respectively, so they are the easily most economical dog bed that’s not made in China.
The cover is washable, and the interior is foam with an imitation wool lining.
The ratings are pretty good overall. You’ll see a few people complaining about the foam being too thin or the frame being too flimsy, but they’re likely comparing the bed to ones that cost double or more what this one costs.
4. West Paw Heyday Bed – Eco-friendly and easy-to-clean
West Paw beds don’t look like bagels, or donuts, or fancy human mattresses. They look like, well, dog beds. They’re all individually handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana and are low profile, so dogs of any age and size can climb on and off them easily. They are stuffed with a generous amount of IntelliLoft, a safe, eco-friendly fill made from recycled plastic bottles. And it’s machine-washable and dryer safe.
Dog beds is only the tip of the iceberg of what West Paw makes. They’re a Certified B Corporation, meaning they hold themselves to a higher standard for being socially and environmentally responsible. Impressively, every one of their products appears to be not only eco-friendly but also made in the USA. They have lots of fun plastic dog toys, but unlike virtually all the ones made in China these are made in the USA with a USA-made proprietary formula that’s completely non-toxic, safe, and will last a very, very long time, but can also be recycled infinitely.
5. Kuranda Dog Bed – For chewers and dogs with orthopedic needs
If your dog loves to chew his or her bed to shreds, these beds may be more along the lines of your needs. It’s a bed made of heavy duty vinyl, held together by a high strength PVC frame. It comes in sizes ranging from mini dogs (25 inches by 16 inches) to extra large dogs (44 inches by 27 inches).
The bed is raised off the ground, helping to make sure your dog stays dry, cool, and comfortable. If you’re a little put off by the fact that there are no plush pillow tops or cozy orthopedic foam cushioning, remember that all of that is probably more appealing to humans than dogs; your dog has a fur coat built in and probably doesn’t need that stuff. He’s generally happy snoozing anywhere he can plop down, whether it’s your kitchen floor, your patio, or your backyard. Just provide him a blanket on the smooth surface, and chances are he’ll be perfectly fine. And being elevated off the ground can help relieve pressure on hips and joints.
The vinyl is smooth and comfortable, and easy to clean. They’ve been manufactured in Glen Burnie, Maryland since 1987.
6. Brentwood’s Runyon Orthopedia Dog Bed – Great for dogs who think they’re human
Brentwood Home sells a lot of great people furniture, so it’s pretty cool that they sell this Runyon Orthopedic Dog Bed that’s made out of the same stuff that their human furniture is made of. It’s machine washable, comes in three colors, and available in four sizes. It’s made from premium, non-toxic materials and has two layers of dense and supportive foam–the same CeriPUR-US certified foam that they use in their regular mattresses–one layer which adds cushioning and the other that provides a sturdy foundation.
Each dog bed is GREENGUARD Gold Certified, meaning it is tested for toxins and chemical pollutants that your dog can breathe in and that can even affect your own household air. Think a made in China dog bed goes through the same rigor?
Finally, it comes with a removable, machine washable cover with waterproof liner, so Fido can feel free to drool, pee, or both without ruining his bed.
Do you know of other dog beds not made in China worthy of mention here? Let us know in the comments!