Is an orthopedic dog bed the most suitable bed for a dog?

As pet parents, we want our dogs to stay healthy and active for as long as possible. Orthopedic dog beds, often described as the "gold standard" of dog beds, improve overall well-being for all dogs – from seniors with arthritis and dogs recovering from injuries to lean young dogs in need of extra mattress softness. Along with top-notch bed features, its price reflects its quality, leading many pet parents to question whether orthopedic dog beds are worth it.

To find out if orthopedic dog beds are beneficial for health and if you're getting value for your money, we provide more information on what makes these beds so special and unique.

What specifications do orthopedic dog beds have?

Similarly to orthopedic mattresses and pillows for humans, an orthopedic dog bed is made of memory foam and other materials that prevent your pet from crushing the bed with its weight. By evenly distributing the dog's weight, the orthopedic bed provides sufficient softness and firmness, reducing pressure on various parts of the pet's body. Orthopedic dog beds are often used as a therapeutic measure for older dogs or dogs with joint problems and conditions such as arthritis or hip dysplasia. 

It is important to understand that an orthopedic dog bed alone will not eliminate the symptoms of these conditions. It should be used as a supplementary measure to improve your pet's well-being, along with the treatment prescribed by your veterinarian.

However, not all beds labeled as orthopedic meet the criteria in terms of their properties, and the term "orthopedic bed" is sometimes applied to products that have only basic standard bed features.  

To find a genuine orthopedic bed that lives up to its name, one of the first things to consider should be its materials. "While regular dog beds are filled with some cotton or wool padding, orthopedic beds should have an appropriate supportive mattress," notes Dr. Pagle.

But what material is the best? "Most high-quality orthopedic dog beds are made of genuine memory foam, similar to human mattresses," says Dr. Jamie Whitenburr, Director and Veterinarian at Knightgate Animal Hospital.

True memory foam is usually made from polyurethane foams with elastic and viscous properties. Memory foam adapts to your dog's body shape, providing unique support, and it does not sink too much. When your dog gets up, the material returns to its original form.

Do dogs need an orthopedic bed? What do experts say?

Most dogs sleep an average of 20 hours per day, and this can cause significant discomfort if they lie on worn-out, uncomfortable beds or hard surfaces. This is especially important for dogs with hip or joint problems and older dogs. Dogs of any age or breed should have an orthopedic bed. Lean breeds of dogs have very little soft tissue around their hips and elbows, and over time, calluses develop on these sensitive areas. For breeds dealing with hip dysplasia, joint problems, or arthritis, it is recommended to start using an orthopedic bed when they are still young to keep their joints healthy and avoid these painful conditions in the future: 

  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Joint problems
  • Bone or soft tissue injuries, trauma
  • Back or muscle problems
  • Lean breeds

    Is it difficult for your dog to get into a regular dog bed or get up from it? Do they seem stiff, move a bit slower after a long nap, or in the morning after a night's sleep? Do they constantly change positions, seem unable to find a comfortable spot in their current bed, or even avoid it altogether? It's time for a new orthopedic bed. With such a wide selection of orthopedic beds, how do you know what to look for? Look for a bed with a mattress that is at least 10 cm thick with real memory foam. A good way to assess the bed is to place it on the floor and press down to see if you can feel the floor through the mattress. If you clearly feel the floor, then it is too thin and won't support your dog's weight.

    Just like us, humans, enjoy a comfortable mattress, so does your dog. Memory foam will adapt and support your dog's body just as it does for us. Prevention of joint pain, muscle stiffness, improved blood circulation, and a more restful sleep are just a few of the benefits provided by an orthopedic bed.