What’s An Orthopedic Dog Bed?

Lab on Memory Foam Orthopedic BedWhen I began this website I really had no idea of the different types of dog beds. Coming across the terms “orthopedic” and “dog beds,” I must admit to being a little confused and remember thinking, “What’s an orthopedic dog bed?”

While no expert, I was able to gather enough information to provide a reasonable explanation, which is what follows.

Orthopedic Definition and Your Dog

Let’s start with the definition of orthopedic. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that orthopedic is:

“A branch of medicine concerned with the correction or prevention of deformities, disorders, or injuries of the skeleton and associated structures (such as tendons and ligaments.)”

In our case, orthopedic beds are designed to provide our dogs with support and relief, meaning when they lay down it’s on a bed that supports their body and distributes their weight equally across the bed, regardless of size. Of course, a bigger dog will require more support than a smaller dog (see below).

Your dog could be old, have an injury, or have been born with some deformity; such as our three-legged dog. This might mean that they need a little extra support and comfort from their dog bed. This website will review different beds over time but for now you can go to your vet or speak to someone who knows about proper beds and can recommend the right bed for your needs.

The important thing to remember is that these beds provide the right support for your dog: whether it’s from an injury (chasing squirrels maybe) or from aching joints that can be brought on by age or disease. When our Australian Shepherd’s hips were giving out on him, we would always hear his sigh of relief when he laid down. We’ve never had a dog groan so much, but we were happy he was comfortable.

The Innards of Ortho

Orthopedic beds are primarily made of foam. The higher end beds will have memory foam with the lower end beds being made with the cheaper egg-crate foam or regular foam like you might use for camping. You’ll need to determine which is the best one for your dog and take into account what you can afford.

Memory foam is the most common and widely recognized when it comes to a true, quality orthopedic dog bed. It was originally designed by NASA for astronauts but was ultimately scrapped. However, it became highly used later when it’s value for joint pain was realized. And, of course, our four-legged friends eventually benefited as well.
The best memory foam is referred to as “visco elastic memory foam” and would be 4 lb density or higher. We’re in the need of a smaller dog bed right now and this is what I’ll be looking to buy.

The memory foam mattresses for both people and pets alike are well-known for molding to the shape of the body and helping us to feel more comfortable. However, it’s not for everyone, including your dog, but so far I haven’t seen a dog refuse to lay on one yet. You’ll need to check them out for yourself and keep the receipt, in case your dog is one of the few who won’t like these.

2) Pocket Sprung dog bed mattresses aren’t as common and do what the name implies: gives a bounce to the bed (picture kids jumping up and down on your bed). This type of bed provides distribution of the dog’s body throughout the bed by absorbing movement and provides the necessary relief to the aching joint or muscle.

Pocket sprung mattresses are essentially coil mattresses, the type that even we pet owners typically use unless we “spring for memory foam.” They’re wrapped in high-density foam which allows for comfort while lying down.

How Do I Know If My Dog Needs One?

A safe bet is that all dogs would benefit from an orthopedic bed. However, and as noted above, there are reasons that it may be time for you to invest in one on purpose.

IMPORTANT: please follow up with your vet if you think your dog is suffering or in any kind of pain.

  • Your dog is older and not walking or running like they used to. This may be the result of many things but the ones I’ve seen have been because of arthritis and general joint pain.
  • Puppies and middle-aged dogs are known to pull a hamstring or to sprain an ankle when chasing those pesky rabbits and birds…or even their tails. While the limp might be cute, and some of them are quite dramatic, if you already have bought them an orthopedic bed then they will be able to have a better rest and, if they let it, recover quicker.

As a general rule, the heavier you are, the firmer the tension you will need.


Orthopedic beds for dogs are something you should definitely consider if your pet meets any of the criteria above. Yes, the good memory foam beds will cost you a little more but, consider the amount of time your dog is laying down, it would be money well spent.

You can opt for the more reasonably priced foam beds, which are easy enough to find at your local pet store or Walmart, and these will be totally fine. Bigger dogs will, of course, flatten them quicker and if you’re not paying attention their weight will actually squish the foam and they’ll be laying pretty much directly on the floor.

We have six dog beds in our home for four dogs and none of them are orthopedic as this time. But with our two fourteen-year-old girls, we now need to look to upgrade what they’re sleeping on. The night bed our three-legged dog sleeps on has a definite bowl in the middle that doesn’t look overly comfortable.

Did this help? Are you using orthopedic dog beds and have some insights or thoughts you could offer? The great thing about pet owners is that we like to swap stories and give hints to one another about our four-legged family members. Please feel free to leave your thoughts below, specifically including any recommendations you may have. Thanks.

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