Does a Dog-Proof Air Mattress Exist?

There is one question that we are often asked when it comes to tent camping with dogs. What do we sleep on in the tent? Is there a dog-proof air mattress that dog owners should be purchasing, or do you have to choose an alternative for a good night’s sleep?

We would LOVE to come to you and share the secret to a dog-proof air mattress. Unfortunately, the truth is that it doesn’t exist. The very nature of an air mattress makes it susceptible to developing holes or punctures, leaving you sleeping on the hard ground. Despite this, we still sleep on an air mattress on many of our tent camping adventures.

To help you get set up for your next adventure, we’ve put together this article with our tips for using an air mattress with dogs.

dog laying on air mattress | Does a Dog-Proof Air Mattress Exist?
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Can Dogs Be on An Air Mattress?

When camping with your dogs, the goal is to enjoy the experience together. For many dog owners (ourselves included), this means cuddling up together as a pack in the tent at the end of the day. While our older dogs prefer to sleep on their own beds during warmer weather trips, Lucifer loves to snuggle all night. When the temperatures drop in the late fall or winter, we all curl up together for the added body heat through the night.

But how do you navigate an air mattress and dogs? I would be lying if I said that we have never woken up on the ground.

The hard truth is that even campers without a dog will face a popped air mattress at one time or another. Especially cheaper or ‘budget’ air mattresses. All it takes is a sharp rock or a stick under the air mattress to pierce the bottom. But that shouldn’t stop you from curling up at night with your best friend. With a little preparation, you can set up a dog-friendly air mattress to keep everyone comfortable.

How Can I Protect My Air Mattress from My Dog?

While there is no dog-proof air mattress available on the market, there are ways that you can protect your air mattress from damage. This includes steps that you can take at home to prepare for your next camping adventure as well as precautions that can be taken while you’re at the campsite.

Keep Your Dog’s Nails Trimmed

The most important thing you can do leading up to your next trip is to keep up with the grooming needs of your dog. More specifically – keep your dog’s nails trimmed and maintained. Otherwise just walking across the air mattress could be enough to puncture it, not to mention the energy and playfulness that you will be enjoying when camping with a puppy!

When it comes to trimming your dog’s nails, it is advised to do this every 2 to 3 weeks. You should aim to do the last trim a couple of days before your trip. This will give time for the sharper edges of your dog’s nails to be worn down and rounded off, further reducing the risk of nail-related damage.

Invest in a Quality Mattress

As we previously mentioned, ‘budget’ air mattresses may look tempting due to their low price tags, but they struggle to keep up with ongoing use. Especially when dogs are brought into the mix! Instead, you should invest in a mattress that is made from more durable material. Some mattresses even claim to be puncture-proof. While this claim isn’t entirely accurate (any air mattress can be punctured), it means that they can often hold up better over time than their competitors.

three dogs laying on air mattress | Does a Dog-Proof Air Mattress Exist?
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Add a Layer of Protection

Every time that we set up our bed, we incorporate additional layers specifically with protection in mind. This includes both protecting our air mattress from the sharp sticks and rocks on the ground beneath the tent as well as the puppy nails climbing into bed with us.

If we are front country camping, our standard setup includes a protective layer directly on the bottom of the tent such as a blanket or foam flooring, a blanket on top of the air mattress, and then a fitted sheet to hold the protective blanket in place. For backcountry camping, we don’t have as much gear space available. But we still pack an extra blanket to go under our sleeping bags both to add a layer of insulation as well as to protect the mattress from our pups.

Train Your Dog to Stay Calm in the Tent

This can be a challenging one for a high-energy dog. Trust us, Lucifer is a 1-year-old German Shepherd/Australian Cattle Dog/Bernese Mountain Dog with an unending amount of energy to burn at any given time. However, training should always be part of the process when getting ready for any trip.

Our dogs have been trained to recognize that when we go into the tent, that is quiet time. That means we can enjoy chew toys or cuddle, but no roughhousing or crazy activity. Not only does this protect our gear, but it also helps to teach them to stay quiet and respectful of other campers when we’re front country camping.

Use Dog Booties

If you are still concerned about the impact of dog nails on your air mattress, you may choose to train your dog to wear socks or booties when in the tent. We don’t use socks in the tent, but we do love the RC Pet Products Sport PAWks for use at home when Daviana needs a little extra traction on the hardwood floors. While some dogs will quickly adjust to wearing something on their paws, others want nothing to do with it. Try introducing the socks slowly at home, offering plenty of treats and praise throughout the process.  

Best Air Mattress for Camping with Dogs

All this information really comes down to one important question – what is the best air mattress for camping with dogs? Is there one brand or product that stands out above the rest? We don’t believe that there is one stand-out product that will work for everyone. But there are 3 options that we have used personally that stood up during our many trips.

Coleman All-Terrain Plus Double High Airbed

The added height of the Coleman All-Terrain Plus Double High Airbed allows for a surprisingly comfortable and relaxing sleep. We originally decided to try this mattress after seeing its claim that it is 47% more puncture-resistant than comparable Coleman airbeds, and we were happy with the result. Full disclosure – ours did eventually develop a hole, but it survived a couple of seasons of camping at least once a month with us and our pack first. That’s a lot of nights spent in the tent!

Coleman Quickbed Airbed

I did warn against choosing a “budget” mattress, but the Coleman Quickbed Airbed comes at a surprisingly low price. We have used this mattress in 2 different ways during the time that we’ve had it. First, it is a great choice for a quick setup on its own and holds up well overnight. But we’ve used it even more in combination with the Coleman Camping Cot. There are many complaints about the noise associated with the cot, but we found that using this mattress instead with its plush surface cut down on that significantly while still providing a comfortable place for all of us to sleep.

dog laying on side on air mattress | Does a Dog-Proof Air Mattress Exist?
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Coleman Inflatable Airbed with Zip-On Insulated Mattress Topper

Finally, this is the air mattress that we are using most frequently right now. We originally purchased the Coleman Inflatable Airbed with Zip-On Insulated Mattress Topper for cooler camping trips in the spring and fall, with the mattress topper providing an added layer of protection from the cold air. We quickly learned that this addition has a few added benefits. The insulated mattress topper is surprisingly thick and durable, creating a built-in layer of protection against puppy nails. It is also easily removed for washing, which is super important when dealing with muddy dogs! While there is no such thing as a dog-proof air mattress, this may be the closest to that statement that we’ve discovered in our travels.

What is your solution when it comes to selecting or setting up a dog-proof air mattress for camping? We invite you to share your tips and tricks in the comments!


  1. These are some good helpful tips to help keep your mattress filled and working, but still being able to comfort your dog during a camping trip. Thank you for sharing your tips!

    Lauren x

  2. I was very intrigued by this title and I appreciate your honesty. All of these tips to help prevent holes are great! I also like the recommendation to buy a nice air mattress as well as your top 3 picks. I agree, Coleman is the way to go! 🙂
    Heidi -RealLifeofLulu.com

  3. I hadn’t actually considered this when it would come to camping with a dog! A high quality mattress would definitely be needed and trimming your dog’s nails is a great tip as well xx

  4. This was a very interesting post! While I am not much of a camping person, I had never thought about the issues you could have with dogs and air mattresses!

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