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What Is An Orthopedic Dog Bed? Things To Know Before Buying

Dogs can sleep anywhere, right? Well, that’s only true if you leave them without an option. But dogs are our furry family members, and part of providing for their welfare is ensuring they have a comfortable bed.

If they are seniors or have common orthopedic disorders like arthritis and hip dysplasia, of which my German Shepherd fits both criteria, getting them an orthopedic bed shows responsible dog ownership.

Before buying, you should know that an orthopedic bed provides support and comfort to dogs with musculoskeletal problems like arthritis. But puppies and healthy dogs can also benefit from it. In addition, you should ensure the bed you buy is truly orthopedic and made from quality memory foam.

I’d love to be your companion in your search for a quality orthopedic bed for your dog. So, I put together this article to tell you everything you need to know about orthopedic dog beds and what to look for when buying. Check out what the article has in store for you!

What Is An Orthopedic Dog Bed?
What is an orthopedic dog bed? Here is my German Shepherd chilling on hers!

What is an Orthopedic Dog Bed?

An orthopedic dog bed is made from high-quality memory foam to provide enhanced comfort and support for dogs with musculoskeletal problems. They can also help to prevent future joint issues.

The bed provides support and comfort to your dog’s bones, joints, and muscles by adjusting to the pet’s body shape and evenly distributing its weight when sleeping

In a broad sense, orthopedic dog beds cushion your dog’s joints, muscles, and bones from the pressure of the surface and the discomfort of straining positions when they sleep. 

Because orthopedic dog beds are associated with a medical function, dog owners are unsure about getting their pup an orthopedic bed. That’s why many often ask, “Does my dog need an orthopedic bed?”

Does Your Dog Need an Orthopedic Bed?

You should provide an orthopedic bed if your dog has medical issues related to its musculoskeletal system. However, the benefits of an orthopedic bed can go beyond sick dogs.

So, here’s a list of dogs that need an orthopedic bed:

Dogs with Orthopedic Conditions

Orthopedic problems are medical conditions that affect a dog’s musculoskeletal system, made up of joints, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

The most common orthopedic problems in dogs include:

  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Torn Cruciate Ligament
  • Luxating Patella
  • Degenerative Disc Disease

These diseases cause wear, rapture, dislocation, and inflammation. The symptoms include pain, stiffness, and lameness.

An orthopedic bed brings solace to dogs with these diseases by providing support and cushioning the affected tissues. 

Large Breeds prone to joint issues.
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Dogs Prone to Orthopedic Conditions

There are dog breeds that are prone to inherited and congenital orthopedic problems. For these breeds, an orthopedic bed is a preventative comfort. 

For example, if you own a dog of the breeds that rank high on Hip Dysplasia prevalence, such as Rottweilers, Bulldogs, and German Shepherds, you should not wait for your dog to show signs of the disease to get an orthopedic bed.

“I only wished I’d known about orthopedic dog beds sooner as I’m convinced it would have helped my German Shepherd with her conditions.”

World of Dogz

Senior Dogs

Just like us, our furry friends are prone to orthopedic issues as they age. Senior dogs have weaker immune systems and reduced endocrine and metabolic function. Also, the strain of age and years of exercise takes its toll on their joints, muscles, and bones.

As such, the support and comfort of an orthopedic bed is a welcome consolation for senior dogs, especially if age is coupled with the presence of disease.

Underweight and Skinny Dogs

If, for some reason, a dog is underweight or belongs to the naturally skinny dog breeds, an orthopedic bed is ideal. These dogs have a slender bone structure and noticeable ribs and hip bones. The cushioning function of an orthopedic bed will protect their bones and joints from pressure. Examples of these breeds are the Great Dane and the Doberman.

Dog Hiding Under Bed Covers

Puppies and Healthy Adult Dogs

Puppies and healthy adult dogs can also benefit from using orthopedic beds. That’s generally because, on average, dogs sleep for 11 hours daily and will enjoy resting on a comfortable bed. Besides, any dog is best lying on a mattress that adapts to its weight and shape and has no pressure points.

Puppies are also in a growth stage where their bones, muscles, and joints are developing. An orthopedic bed gives good support to their developing musculoskeletal system.

Healthy adult dogs may not require an orthopedic bed, but it provides additional comfort and enhances their quality of life.

So, what sets orthopedic dog beds aside compared to other dog beds?

Orthopedic vs. Memory vs. Regular Dog Beds

It’s important to remember that orthopedic refers to the support a bed provides to your dog’s bones and muscles and not essentially the material.

However, the type of material used to make the bed will enhance or reduce the orthopedic effect. That’s why material is the primary factor when comparing orthopedic beds with regular dog beds.

I included memory foam dog beds in this comparison because they are usually considered synonymous with orthopedic dogs.

Regular Dog Beds

Regular dog beds are usually made with wood and fiber fillings. These materials are not compact and easily move when your sleeping dog moves. That gives them two key disadvantages:

  • They do not allow your dog’s joints and muscles to respond at the same speed the filling moves, causing strain and discomfort.
  • The filling does not readjust itself, meaning it can be thinner in the position where your dog laid the previous time, providing less caution to joints and muscles.

Memory Foam Dog Beds

Memory foam is a polyurethane material that reacts to pressure and adjusts to the shape of the dog’s body.

Compared to regular dog bed filling, memory foam moves less fast when your sleeping pet moves. This gives your pet’s joints and muscles time to adjust to the new position.

Besides, memory foam re-forms to its usual shape and size when your dog moves out of bed. As such, your dog does not go back to a lower level of foam the next time it’s sleeping.

Despite its support quality, thin layers of memory foam may not always serve an orthopedic purpose, as I tell you next.

Orthopedic Dog Beds

Orthopedic beds are made of memory foam, but that alone does not guarantee their orthopedic quality.

Instead, memory foam dog beds qualify as orthopedic if they can provide healthy support to your dog’s bones, joints, and muscles. That’s especially true if the pooch has health or age-related musculoskeletal conditions.

To qualify as orthopedic, dog beds must have the right type of memory foam in the correct density. One of the best examples in the market is the Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed. This meets the qualities of an excellent orthopedic bed because it has a 3-layer foam that protectively surrounds the joints of dogs of any size, cautioning them from hitting the surface below.

Often, regular beds and memory foam beds are made of very thin layers that automatically shrink when the dog lies on them, putting pressure on joints.

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you’ll know that my German Shepherd is both elderly and has spinal osteoarthritis and slight hip dysplasia. I bought her the Big Barker a few years ago due to its exceptional quality and depth, which you can see in the below image.

I’m kind of jealous of her, as this bed is good enough for a human to sleep on!

Dog on Orthopedic Bed Showing Depth of Bed
My dog resting on her orthopedic dog bed

If you want to gift your furry friend the comfort of a Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed, you’ll find it here. It also comes with a 10-year “no-flatten” guarantee making it a risk-free purchase, and I liked that.

But exactly what makes the Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed and other quality orthopedic dog beds beneficial for your dog? Let’s discuss some things you should know before buying.

Things You Should Know Before Buying an Orthopedic Dog Bed

Everything in this article is crucial information you should know before heading online or to a pet store to buy your dog an orthopedic dog. 

Nonetheless, I thought of breaking down some of the facts about orthopedic dog beds into quick tips.

Keep in mind these facts when considering an orthopedic bed for your furry friend:

  1. The term orthopedic is not regulated and can be used by any manufacturer to market and sell their product. That means you can buy a dog bed marked “orthopedic” but lacking the qualifying characteristics. When buying, prioritize manufacturers such as the Big Barker, who have invested in clinical studies to ensure their products benefit dogs with orthopedic conditions.
  2. Orthopedic beds are made of quality memory foam and do not collapse from the weight of dogs. Any bed that easily sinks from a dog’s weight and does not quickly bounce back to its usual form is not orthopedic.
  3. Orthopedic dog beds are not a cure but a part of the management options for your dog’s musculoskeletal conditions. Consider working with a vet to provide a comprehensive medical plan alongside the support and comfort provided by an orthopedic dog bed.


The answers to the questions below will clear any doubts you may still have about how orthopedic dog beds work.

Are Orthopedic Dog Beds Good for Arthritis?

Absolutely! It is a clinically proven fact that my dog’s Big Barker triple-layer orthopedic dog bed reduces stiffness and joint pain for arthritic larger dogs, helps improve their gait and joint function, and promotes overall sleep quality. The triple-layer foam cushions a dog’s joints from sinking into the surface and supports its pressure curve so the pet does not feel any pressure points.

How Do I Choose an Orthopedic Dog Bed?

When choosing an orthopedic dog bed, make sure it is made of quality memory foam with a density of at least 5cm (2″). The bed should be the correct size for your dog and made from durable and easy-to-clean material. If your dog loves supporting its head or paws while sleeping, a bed with a bolster is the best choice. Also, ensure the price is within your budget.

How Do Orthopedic Dog Beds Work?

Orthopedic dog beds are made from high-quality memory foam. The foam conforms to your dog’s body shape when the pet lies down and distributes the pet’s weight evenly on the mattress. As a result, your dog does not feel any strain on the spine, joints, and muscles, as would be the case if the bed sunk under its weight.


  • Sharon Waddington

    Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Find her on Linkedin!