Orthopedic dog beds provide greater support and comfort for older dogs or those with joint pain. They can be expensive, but the best options can relieve joint pain and help your pet sleep better.
“Investing in a high-quality orthopedic bed is not only important for your dog’s comfort and wellbeing, it can positively impact their behavior,” says Rebecca Morello, IMDT dog trainer. “Feeling well-rested will help them feel more relaxed and have higher resilience to stress.”
We’ve researched and tested a range of dog beds and listed our top picks below. During our testing, we found that each of these options provided excellent support, comfort, and value for money.
For big breeds, the Big Barker is our top pick in this category. This bed has a thick 7″ mattress that provides excellent support for bigger breeds. For small or medium breeds, the DogBed4Less is a great alternative.
Our Top Recommendations
- Our Top Recommendations
- 5 Best Orthopedic Dog Beds
- Best Orthopedic Bed for Big Dogs: Big Barker Dog Bed
- Best Solid Memory Foam Orthopedic Bed: DogBed4Less Memory Foam Bed
- Best Orthopedic Bed With Bolsters: PetFusion Ultimate Dog Bed
- Best Budget Orthopedic Dog Bed: Brindle Waterproof Designer Memory Foam Bed
- Alternative Pick: The Dog’s Bed Orthopedic Dog Bed
- How We Chose Our Top Orthopedic Beds
- How to Choose an Orthopedic Dog Bed
5 Best Orthopedic Dog Beds
Here are our five top picks and why we chose them. Each of these beds provides outstanding comfort and support, so they make great choices for older pups or those with stiff joints. Remember that the right option for your dog depends on their size, weight, and preferred sleeping position.
Best Orthopedic Bed for Big Dogs: Big Barker Dog BedVIEW PRICE
If you need an orthopedic dog bed for a big dog, then we don’t think you can beat the Big Barker. This bed is made from 7 inches of premium foam, which we’ve found provides excellent support for even the heaviest dogs. The high-quality mattress is also guaranteed not to sag for at least a decade, which goes a long way to justifying the bed’s cost!
The Big Barker is specifically designed for larger breeds, such as the Great Dane or German Shepherd. This means the bed is calibrated to allow for a comfortable “sink” for big dogs without letting them touch the floor. The comfy foam also spreads your dog’s weight across the bed to prevent pressure on joints – although we don’t think it’s quite as supportive on the joints as a memory foam bed.
Other features include a machine-washable microfiber cover, several color options, and three sizes (including an extra large 60″ option). We were disappointed that a waterproof cover isn’t included – especially considering the high price – but this can be bought separately.
The Big Barker isn’t suitable for small dog breeds though. The mattress is firm, so a lighter breed won’t sink in.
If you have a large dog breed, the Big Barker is our #1 recommendation for an orthopedic bed. It’s not cheap, but will last a long time and provides a fantastic sleeping surface for your big pet. When it comes to a large dog bed, there aren’t many that can match the Big Barker.
Best Solid Memory Foam Orthopedic Bed: DogBed4Less Memory Foam BedVIEW PRICE
If you’re looking for a memory foam option, then the DogBed4Less is our top pick. We found it to be an excellent bed that’s available in a wide range of sizes, making it suitable for both small and large breeds (although we still recommend the Big Barker for the heaviest dog breeds).
Regardless of the bed size, the DogBed4Less is made from 4″ memory foam. Unlike cheaper options, this is entirely gel cooling memory foam – there aren’t layers of support or comfort material. We found that this provides excellent support to aching joints, while the gel foam helps to keep your pet cooler on hot days.
The foam is also five times denser than standard polyurethane, which is why the DogBed4Less can provide excellent support despite being thinner than alternative dog beds on our list.
Aside from its comfort and support, we liked that the DogBed4Less also has two covers. The internal zipper case is waterproof to protect the mattress, while the external cover is made from denim and is machine washable.
For all but the heaviest dog breeds, we think the DogBed4Less is an excellent choice. The solid memory foam mattress provides excellent support, while the two covers help to protect against accidents.
Best Orthopedic Bed With Bolsters: PetFusion Ultimate Dog BedVIEW PRICE
When it comes to orthopedic dog beds with bolsters, the PetFusion Ultimate is our top pick. This is a rectangular bolster bed that’s built with a solid layer of 4″ memory foam (if you choose the Large or X-large option). It also has a soft polyester/cotton cover and a waterproof inner liner, making it a great all-rounder.
Most of the PetFusion Ultimate bed is surrounded by a filled bolster, which is great if your dog enjoys curling up against something when sleeping. We liked how comfortable the bolster is for a dog to rest their head on, while the mattress provides support for the joints. We also liked the gap in the bolster, making it easier for dogs with joint pain to climb onto the bed.
The cover is both water and tear-resistant, so it can stand up to light scratching. Don’t expect it to survive a determined chewer, but the PetFusion is still a durable bolstered option. We also found it to be simple to clean, as the removable cover can be machine-washed.
The Ultimate is available in a range of sizes. The smallest is a 25″x20″ bed, while the largest (“XXL Jumbo”) is 50″x40″. Keep in mind that this is the external size. The actual sleeping surface is smaller due to the bolster.
We don’t recommend the smallest version of the PetFusion Ultimate. This option only has a 2″ foam mattress, which we don’t think is enough support for even small breeds. The Large, X-Large, and Jumbo are all brilliant bolster beds though.
The PetFusion Ultimate is a great choice for senior dogs who need extra support for their joints. It’s also great for pups who enjoy snuggling against a bolster when sleeping.
Best Budget Orthopedic Dog Bed: Brindle Waterproof Designer Memory Foam BedVIEW PRICE
If you’re looking for the best budget orthopedic dog bed, the Brindle Waterproof Designer is our top pick. It doesn’t appear as luxurious as the other options on this list, but it still contains a 4″ thick mattress with a 2″ top layer of memory foam. We found that this makes it an excellent choice for small or medium dog breeds.
The foam mattress of the Brindle contours to your dog’s body to relieve pressure on the joints. We found that most dogs love sleeping on the Brindle, as it’s both comfortable and quiet to lay on (which is important for nervous dogs). It also comes with a removable cover and a non-slip bottom, which are two features we always love.
Below the memory foam is another two-inch layer of support foam. This provides a solid foundation so your dog doesn’t hit the floor, although we don’t recommend this bed for the heaviest breeds (go for the Big Barker instead).
However, as a small dog bed, it’s a great choice. As a bonus, the bed has a waterproof inner cover beneath the primary cover. In our experience, this type of dual-layer protection is more effective at protecting the mattress against accidents. We also liked that the bed came fully assembled – no struggling with liners or covers!
The Brindle is a great dog bed if you’re on a tight budget. As it’s only 4″ thick with 2″ of memory foam, we don’t recommend it for the biggest dogs. But for small or medium size breeds (up to around pit bull size) it’s surprisingly high-quality considering the low price.
Alternative Pick: The Dog’s Bed Orthopedic Dog BedVIEW PRICE
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Big Barker, then we think this option by The Dog’s Bed is up there with the best pet beds on the market. It comes with both memory foam and a thick support layer, and provides excellent value for money.
The mattress thickness depends on which size you buy, but the larger options are amongst the thickest on the market. For example, the bigger sizes have a 4″ support foam base and a 2″ solid memory foam top.
We found that this combination provides a comfortable sleeping surface for almost any sized dog. Additionally, the mattress is high-quality and isn’t quick to flatten.
Aside from the mattress, we like that The Dog’s Bed Orthopedic comes with both a washable cover and a waterproof inner liner. Unlike many alternatives, the cover is simple and quick to remove. Don’t expect the cover to withstand biting, chewing, or scratching though.
We think The Dog’s Bed Orthopedic is a high-quality bed that provides excellent support – and for a great price. It’s also easy to clean, has a waterproof inner liner, and is available in both flat and headrest versions. Be aware that the smaller sizes aren’t as thick though.
How We Chose Our Top Orthopedic Beds
We chose the products on this list from a combination of deep research into buyer reviews, our own testing, and our collective experience with dogs of all sizes.
During testing, we decided that the key features of an orthopedic bed should be:
- Supportive foam that spread weight evenly and prevented the dog from sinking to the floor
- Waterproof (or at least water-resistant) cover or lining to protect the foam mattress from accidents
- A range of available sizes to suit different dog breeds
- A durable design that will last a long time (although we didn’t include any chew-proof options)
What Is an Orthopedic Dog Bed?
The word “orthopedic” is not regulated regarding dog beds. This means anyone can build a bed and call it orthopedic for dogs – which is one of the reasons we decided to create this article.
In our opinion, this type of bed should provide better joint support than alternative options without creating pressure points. It should also provide all-round support, so the dog doesn’t sink all the way to the floor, while being comfortable to sleep on.
These factors make orthopedic beds a great option for:
- Elderly dogs who may struggle to get up from very soft cushions. These dogs also probably won’t sleep well on beds that don’t support their joints.
- Dogs with joint pain, regardless of age. The support provided by foam reduces pressure on the hips and back, which can relieve pain and provide a more comfortable sleep. The right bed can make a big difference to dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other painful conditions.
- Dogs with injuries can also benefit from a supportive mattress for the same reasons.
With that said, many dogs find foam beds more comfortable to sleep on than other types – even if they are young and don’t have joint pain.
How to Choose an Orthopedic Dog Bed
Choosing the right bed can make the difference between a bed your pup will love and one that goes unused. Here’s an overview of the most important considerations when buying
As we noted in our guide to the dog beds, a bed must be easy to wash. Dog beds quickly become covered in dirt, hair, and even fleas or ticks, so being washable is vital.
Foam fillings cannot be machine washed (some can handle light spot cleaning). For this reason, look for a bed with an easy-to-remove cover that’s also machine washable. Zippers are often the best choice for quickly removing a cover.
Some options also include an inner waterproof liner. This usually isn’t machine washable like the external cover, but can protect the foam if your pet has an accident. If your pet has bladder problems, it’s a good idea to look for a waterproof internal cover.
Supportive Foam (Type and Thickness)
The most common mattress material for supportive dog beds is foam. Foam has several advantages over traditional fillings, including molding to your dog’s body shape and providing a more comfortable sleeping surface.
The best thing about foam is that it evenly distributes weight. This orthopedic support prevents all of your dog’s weight from resting on their sore joints.
Not all foam is created equal though. Thicker beds usually provide more support as they prevent the dog from resting on the floor. Quality is another vital consideration, as higher quality options provide a firm yet comfortable sleeping surface.
There are several different foam configurations. These include:
- Filled. Filled beds are made from chunks of foam that could be from a variety of sources. They are usually the lowest quality, require continuous “fluffing up,” and they don’t adjust well to your dog’s weight. Filled beds are cheap, but we usually don’t recommend them.
- Multi-Layered. Unlike filled beds, these are made from slabs of foam glued together. They are cheaper than beds made from a single layer, but may be less durable. They are more supportive and longer-lasting than filled beds though.
- Single-Layer. The most durable dog beds are made from a single layer of foam. This type of bed is usually the most expensive, but manufacturers claim they provide greater support.
There are also various types of foam. The most common – and cheapest – is flat polyurethane. This provides a good balance between cooling and providing support, although it’s not quite as luxurious as other options.
Polyurethane allows the dog to sink in, which provides great support, but it’s vital to choose a bed that’s thick enough to stop your dog from sinking all the way to the floor (this is especially important for larger breeds). Most polyurethane beds are flat, but some also use egg-crate foam.
Another option is memory foam, which is a special type of polyurethane that reacts to heat. This allows it to mold to your dog’s body and provide greater support than traditional polyurethane.
The amount of support provided depends on the density as well as thickness, so dense foam can provide the support of a much thicker standard bed. A downside to a memory foam mattress, aside from the price, is that it has low airflow. If your dog regularly overheats, it may not be the best choice.
Not all orthopedic beds for dogs are made from foam though. There are a few high-quality options that use fiber fillings. An example is the Ruffwear Urban Sprawl.
Which type of filling is best for your dog though? For most healthy dogs, a rectangular polyurethane bed is a safe option. Nearly all dogs love these beds, plus they are cheaper than memory foam. However, if your pet has joint pain, then a memory foam orthopedic bed can provide better support and comfort.
Whatever type of bed you choose, it must provide enough support for the weight of your pet. For a quick test, use one hand to squeeze a bed. If you can easily touch your finger and thumb together through the mattress, the bed isn’t providing enough support.
Your Dog’s Requirements
We discussed choosing the right bed for your dog in our best dog bed article, but here’s a quick summary.
- Sleeping Position. Dogs can sleep in a variety of positions, including on their back, side, curled up in the “fox” position, or sprawled out like a puppy. Most dogs cycle between these options, but each tends to have a favored position. Choose a bed that matches your pet’s sleeping preferences so they’ll be more comfortable. For example, dogs that enjoy curling up in a secure place might prefer a bed with a bolster, while standard beds (rectangular) are the best choice for dogs that like to spread out.
- Size. Orthopedic beds come in various sizes, so it’s important to choose the right option. Ideally, a bed should be big enough for your dog to stretch out – even if they spend a lot of time curled up. This isn’t always possible for bolster or doughnut beds though. Keep in mind that dog bed manufacturers nearly always underestimate the amount of space required by a breed. If you’re buying a dog crate bed, you’ll also need to ensure it fits the interior.
- Bolster. Does your dog like to cuddle against something when he sleeps? If so, a bed with a bolster (raised sides) could be a good option. Dogs that enjoy sleeping with a pillow may also like a bolster bed. If your pet loves to stretch out as much as possible, then a bolster may get in the way.
- Thickness. We’ve already mentioned mattress thickness, but it can make the difference between a supportive bed and an expensive waste of money. As a general rule, thicker is better – although you may be able to use a shallower option if buying memory foam. Larger dogs need thicker and harder foam than smaller breeds, as their heavier weight causes them to sink further.
- Comfort. The foam should be comfy, but a soft microsuede cover or plush pillow top can make your pooch even more comfortable.
- Water Resistant. Getting a bed with a water-resistant internal cover is essential if your pet has accidents. Foam can’t be thoroughly washed, so it can be difficult to remove a urine smell.
Aside from these factors, you should also consider the price and returns policy of a bed. The bed should last a long time, and a generous return policy indicates the manufacturer has confidence in the product. Having the option to buy replacement covers is also a bonus.
Don’t just choose the cheapest option though. A dog bed must be durable – especially if your dog is a scratcher or a chewer. It also needs to withstand repeated washing. Cheaper options might look like a bargain initially, but they can cost more in the long run when they need to be replaced.
An orthopedic bed can provide excellent support and comfort to your dog. While all dogs will enjoy a comfier place to sleep, supportive mattresses are especially important for elderly dogs, arthritic dogs, or those with other joint problems.
If you have a big dog, we think the Big Barker is an outstanding bed. It’s durable, comfortable to sleep on, and has a high density to support heavy breeds. For small or medium breeds, or larger dogs that need maximum support for their joints, the DogBed4Less bed is our top pick.
Do you have any questions about choosing a bed for your dog? Let us know in the comments! You may also want to read our guide to why dogs might wake up at night.