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What to Look For in an Orthopedic Dog Bed: Buyers Guide

Recent market research suggests that orthopedic dog bed purchases are on the rise and will remain that way in the future. That’s because more and more dog owners are becoming aware of the importance of providing the best care for their pets. Despite this, not all dog owners know what to look for in an orthopedic dog bed.

When buying an orthopedic dog bed, ensure it’s made from quality memory foam and has the correct density and size. Also, go for designs that provide the best comfort and support for your dog, and confirm the material is durable and easy to clean. Be sure the bed returns the best value for the cost.

We know that most dog owners only think of the material when considering an orthopedic bed. But the list of what to look for when buying an orthopedic dog bed is longer than a single item.

As the owner of a senior German Shepherd with joint issues, I’m a massive fan of orthopedic dog beds, so I put together this article so you know all the other factors you should consider. Here we go!

What To Look For In An Orthopedic Dog Bed
My German Shepherd chilling on her orthopedic dog bed

7 Factors to Consider When Buying an Orthopedic Dog Bed

To my best knowledge, there are no standard regulations or certifications guiding dog owners on what to look for when buying an orthopedic bed for their pets. However, you know you can talk to your vet for advice.

Alternatively, you can consult buyer guides created from reliable research, which is what I’ve done for you! After all, this is exactly the research I did after my dog was diagnosed with spinal osteoarthritis, and I was in the market for an orthopedic bed.

Below are the factors to consider when buying an orthopedic bed for your dog.


Material is a primary factor in the quality of an orthopedic bed. While you’ll find many dog beds advertised as orthopedic, the material may not be orthopedic-grade.

The best material for orthopedic dog beds is viscoelastic memory foam. This type of foam behaves like liquid or solid, depending on the matter placed on it. That means it will adapt to your dog’s body shape, and the pet’s weight will be evenly distributed without causing any pressure points on your furry friend.

Usually, high-quality memory foam dog beds have a minimum depth of 2″ (around 5cm). Also, memory foam quality usually goes from 3-5lb, with the latter indicating better quality. If your dog’s orthopedic bed is made from thin sheets of memory foam, it might not provide the required medical function.

You should also avoid fills that move and separate when a dog applies its weight on a mattress.

Other materials that make dog beds but are not orthopedic quality include:

  • Memory fiber fillings
  • High-density foam
  • Hospital-grade foam
  • Egg crate foam
  • Polyester fiber
  • Convoluted foam
  • Recycled fiber

You can consider that the quality of the material reduces as the list goes down.

Mixed Breed Dogs - various sizes

Dog Size

What would be the point in buying a bed to improve your dog’s quality of life but missing out on the correct size? The safest way is to refer to a dog bed size guide.

Generally, dog bed sizes go from small to XXL. Here’s a quick summary.

Dog SizeRecommended Dog Bed SizeBreed Examples
1lb-10lb (X Small)L 24″ x W 18″Chihuahua, Pomeranian
11lb-25lb (Small)L 30″ x W 21″Pug, Bichon Frise
26lb-40lb (Medium)L 36″ x W 24″Beagle, Cocker spaniel
41lb-70lb (Large)L 42″ x W 28″Boxer, Welsh Corgis
71lb-90lb (X Large)L 48″ x W 30″German Shepherd, Labradors
91lb-110lb (XX-Large)L 52″ x W 32″Great Dane, Newfoundland
Dog Bed Size Guide

If you go for my preferred brand, the Big Barker orthopedic dog bed, you will also have a slightly bigger size for giant dog breeds. Consider that for your dog’s comfort, bigger is better than smaller. Below is a photo of my fur baby stretched out on her bed.

Dog Sleeping on Orthopedic Bed
My dog sleeping on her orthopedic bed


An orthopedic dog bed’s design translates to whether it is ergonomic and provides the best comfort and support for your pet. This can mean one of the following:

  • The bed has a bolster along one or more edges to support the head, neck, spine, or other body parts when the dog needs it.
  • The bed is nested or crated as a way of enhancing security and warmth for your dog.
  • The bed has an anti-slip feature, staying firm while your furry friend naps.

Support & Comfort

As mentioned earlier, a dog bed qualifies as orthopedic primarily because it offers support and comfort for dogs with musculoskeletal problems. Comfort and support come with design and the type of material. 

If your dog loves lying flat, go for a flatbed. If instead, your pet enjoys raising its head, consider a bolster design.

“My dog prefers bolsters around her bed as she loved to rest her head on them and likes to feel all snug.”

With material, ensure that the earlier recommended viscoelastic memory foam is designed in layers. A multi-layered orthopedic bed will cushion your dog’s musculoskeletal system from the hard surface under the bed.

Easy Maintenance

It is important that your dog’s orthopedic bed stays clean. So, go for options that make cleaning easy. Such options include:

  • A bed with a machine washable cover.
  • A bed that’s covered with faux leather and is easily cleaned with a damp cloth.
  • Waterproof cover, especially if your dog also has urine incontinence issues.

Once you’ve chosen your bed, check out my guide on easy maintenance, Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning an Orthopedic Dog Bed.

Durability and Safety

Dogs love to move and have biological features like paws and nails that can easily cause damage to a bed. Some dogs are also habitual chewers. You don’t want to buy a dog bed every 2 months or risk your dog’s health from ingesting bed pieces.

For that reason, ensure you go for an orthopedic dog bed that resists dog activity and lasts the longest possible. For example, some bite-proof designs come with aluminum frames to prevent your dog from reaching the corners of the bed and ripping them off.

Confirm, too, that your dog’s orthopedic bed is not made from material that can be toxic or hyper allergenic. Materials that cause allergy include synthetic and wool, while toxic dog bed materials could be latex fillings and vinyl covers.

Read my comprehensive post on the lifespan of an orthopedic dog bed.

Pug In Bed With Toy


While you want the best quality for your dog’s orthopedic bed, you also don’t intend to break the bank for it.

Do your research before making a purchase, and go for quality. One way of saving money for a quality orthopedic dog bed is by taking advantage of discounted offers. 

You’ll find many beds advertised as orthopedic for extremely low prices. Ensure the price does not point to poor quality because often, cheap is costly.


Still got some questions about orthopedic dog beds and which ones are the best? I have answers to some of the most asked questions on the topic.

What Makes a Dog Bed Orthopedic?

A dog bed is orthopedic if it is made from materials that help support the pet’s spine and provide cushion to its joint, bones, muscles, and other tissues of the musculoskeletal system. Such beds are made from high-quality memory foam and designed to help your dog lie comfortably without feeling any pressure points.

Are Orthopedic Dog Beds Worth it?

There’s no doubt that orthopedic beds provide comfort and support to your dog’s musculoskeletal system while sleeping. This is especially true for dogs with orthopedic issues such as arthritis.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that arthritic dogs who use the Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed experience better mobility, reduced joint pain, and overall enhanced quality of life.

What is the Difference Between Orthopedic and Non-orthopedic Beds?

Orthopedic dog beds are made from high-quality memory foam. This material has excellent compactness to support your dog’s joints and bones and adjusts to the pet’s shape, enhancing comfort.

Regular dog beds are usually made from wood and polyester fiber fillings or egg crate foam. These materials are thin or fit loosely into the holding bag, making them move easily when your dog moves. As such, your dog’s joints and muscles experience pressure and poor support.


  • 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!