An orthopedic bed could be a great choice for your dog – especially if he is stiff, has arthritis, or is just showing signs of ageing. In this article, TheDogClinic.com editor Richard Cross chooses his top 5 best orthopedic dog beds to help you make an informed choice.
- What is an Orthopedic Dog Bed?
- Key Features of a Supportive Bed
- 5 Top-Rated Orthopedic Dog Beds
Orthopedic pet beds are designed to provide greater support and comfort for older dogs or those with joint pain. They are often more expensive than basic beds, but the best products can relieve joint pain and help your pet get a better sleep.
Unlike standard beds, these beds spread your dog’s weight evenly. This relieves pressure points on the joints. They also provide enough support to prevent “bottoming out” – which is when the cushioning is so thin the dog ends up resting on the floor.
In this article, I’ve listed our recommendations for the best orthopedic dog bed. I believe each of these beds provides excellent support, comfort and value for money. There’s also a short section on how to choose a supportive bed.
Our #1 Pick: Big Barker Dog Bed
Excellent bed with great support
The Big Barker is our top pick for an orthopedic dog bed (at least for large dogs.) It features a thick mattress of comfort and support foam, along with a washable cover. If you have a small breed, one of the other options on this list is a better choice.
What is an Orthopedic Dog Bed?
Despite the medical-sounding term, the word “orthopedic” is not regulated when it comes to dog beds. This means anyone can build a bed and call it orthopedic for dogs – which is one of the reasons I decided to create this article.
In my opinion, this type of dog bed should provide greater support to the joints than alternative options. It should also provide all-round support, so the dog doesn’t sink all the way to the floor. Aside from support, all dog beds should be comfortable for your pet to sleep on.
Why Buy One for Your Pet?
Considering orthopedic beds are more expensive than other options, you might be wondering why you should buy them. The main reasons are:
- If your pet is elderly, he may struggle to get up from very soft cushion beds. He also probably won’t sleep well on beds that don’t support his joints.
- Dogs with joint pain, regardless of age, can also benefit from this type of bed. 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 an orthopedic mattress for the same reasons.
- Finally, many dogs find foam beds more comfortable to sleep on than other types – even if they are young and don’t have joint pain.
Key Features of a Supportive Bed
Choosing the right product can make the difference between a bed your pup will love and one that goes unused. While you should consider all factors, including price and appearance, the most important features are a washable cover, supportive filling and meeting your dog’s requirements.
As we noted in our guide to the best 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, which are used in most orthopedic beds, cannot be machine washed though (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 beds also include an inner waterproof liner. This usually isn’t machine washable like the external cover, but protects 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.
The most common mattress material for supportive dog beds is foam. This has a number of 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 your dog’s weight resting on his sore joints.
Not all foam is created equal though, so it’s important to know what you’re buying. Thicker beds usually provide more support as they prevent the dog resting on the floor. Foam 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 Beds. 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 don’t adjust well to your dog’s weight. Filled beds are cheap, but I usually don’t recommend them.
- Multi-Layered Beds. Unlike filled beds, these beds are made from slabs of foam that are 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 Beds. 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 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 in comparison to 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. If your pet has bad joint pain, however, a memory foam orthopedic dog bed can provide better support – although they are more expensive and generally not as durable.
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 orthopedic-level support.
Your Dog’s Requirements
We talked about 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. Try to choose a bed that matches your pet’s sleeping preferences so he’ll be more comfortable. Dogs that enjoy curling up in a secure place might prefer a nesting bed, while standard beds (rectangular) are the best choice for dogs that like to spread out.
- Size. The best orthopedic beds come in a variety of different 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 he spends 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 make sure 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, however, then a bolster may get in the way.
- Thickness. I’ve already mentioned thickness, but it’s worth repeating as it can make the difference between a supportive bed and an expensive waste of money. As a general rule, thicker foam 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. Orthopedic foam should be comfy to lay on, but a soft microsuede cover or plush pillow top can make your pooch even more comfortable.
- Water-Resistance. 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 best orthopedic dog beds should last a long time, and a generous return policy indicates the manufacturer has confidence in the product. Having the option buy replacement covers is also a bonus.
Don’t just choose the cheapest option though. An 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.
Note: If you have a Labrador, check our guide to the best dog beds for labs as the information is specific to your pet’s breed.
5 Top-Rated Orthopedic Dog Beds
Now that you know what I look for in an orthopedic pet bed, here are my top 5 picks. Each of these beds provides outstanding comfort and support, so they make great choices for older dogs or those with stiff joints. Keep in mind that the right option for your dog depends on his size, weight and favored sleeping position.
|Rank||Name||Price Range||Why Choose It...|
|#1||Big Barker Dog Bed||$$$$$||High-quality dog bed that's brilliant for medium or large breeds.|
|#2||DogBed4Less Memory Foam Bed||$$$||Memory foam bed that's a good alternative to the Big Barker for smaller breeds.|
|#3||PetFusion Ultimate Dog Bed||$$$$||Solid memory foam bed with a bolster for dogs who like a pillow.|
|#4||$$||A lower-budget option that still provides a memory foam top layer.|
|#5||The Dog’s Bed Orthopedic Dog Bed||$$$$||High-quality bed that's available in both flat and headrest versions.|
1. Big Barker Dog BedVIEW PRICE
One of the most popular dog beds for large dogs is the Big Barker – and it’s also a great choice as an orthopedic bed. This bed is made from 7 inches of premium foam, that provides strong support for heavy dogs. The high-quality foam is also guaranteed not to sag for at least a decade, which goes a long way to justifying the bed’s cost.
As the name suggests, the Big Barker is specifically designed for larger dogs, such as the Great Dane or German Shepherd.
In practice, 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 it’s not quite as supportive 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). A waterproof cover isn’t included, but this can be bought separately.
The Big Barker isn’t suitable for small dogs though. The foam is firm, so a lighter breed won’t sink in.
2. DogBed4Less Memory Foam BedVIEW PRICE
One of my top recommendations for a memory foam orthopedic dog bed is the DogBed4Less. Despite the “low budget” name, it’s an excellent bed that’s available in wide range of sizes. This means it’s suitable for both small and large breeds – although for bigger dogs the Big Barker is probably the better option.
Regardless of the size you choose, the bed is made from 4″ of memory foam. Unlike cheaper options, this is entirely memory foam – there aren’t layers of support or comfort material. 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.
Aside from its comfort and support, the DogBed4Less also comes with two covers. The internal zipper case is waterproof to protect the memory foam interior, while the external cover is made from denim and is machine washable.
For small-medium size dog breeds, the DogBed4Less is one of the best orthopedic dog beds. The memory foam filling also makes it better suited for dogs with more severe joint pain than the Big Barker.
3. PetFusion Ultimate Dog BedVIEW PRICE
Another excellent orthopedic dog bed – and one of the best dog beds for older dogs – is the PetFusion Ultimate.
This is a rectangular bolster bed that’s built with a solid layer of 4″ memory foam for the Large and Extra-Large options. It also comes with a soft polyester/cotton cover and a waterproof inner liner.
Most of the bed is surrounded by a filled bolster. If your dog enjoys curling up against something when sleeping, the PetFusion Ultimate could be a brilliant choice.
It’s not all about comfort though. 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 option. It’s also 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.
In summary, if you’re looking for an orthopedic dog bed with bolster, the PetFusion Ultimate is one of the best on the market.
4. Milliard Premium Bed
If you’re looking for the best budget orthopedic dog bed, the Milliard is my top pick. It doesn’t appear as luxurious as the other beds, but is still 4″ thick with a 2″ top layer of memory foam. It also has a removable cover with a non-slip bottom to help your dog get safely onto the bed.
Like all orthopedic memory foam dog beds, the Milliard contours to your dog’s body which helps relieve pressure on joints. The two inches of support material provides a more solid foundation so your dog doesn’t hit the floor, although I don’t recommend this bed for big and heavy breeds. As a small orthopedic dog bed, however, it’s a great choice.
As a bonus, the cover is coated to make it waterproof. This protects the foam, although beds with two covers likely offer greater protection from accidents.
The Milliard Premium is a great dog bed if you’re on a tight budget. As it’s only 4″ thick with 2″ of memory foam, I don’t recommend it for big dogs. But for small or medium size breeds (up to pit bull size) it’s surprisingly high-quality considering the low price.
5. The Dog’s Bed Orthopedic Dog BedVIEW PRICE
If you’re looking for the best orthopedic pet bed with both memory foam and a thick support layer, The Dog’s Bed could be a great choice for the price.
All large sizes are built with a thick 4″ support foam base and a 2″ solid memory foam top (the small and medium options have a thinner support layer though). This provides a comfortable sleeping surface for almost any sized dog and can relieve joint pain. Additionally, the foam is high-quality and isn’t quick to flatten.
It’s also one of the thickest orthopedic beds in its price range. If you want a truly supportive bed for a big dog, this one provides excellent value.
Aside from the mattress, The Dog’s Bed Orthopedic comes with both a washable cover and a waterproof inner liner. Unlike many beds, the cover is simple and quick to remove. You can also choose between flat and headrest versions.
Don’t expect the cover to withstand biting, chewing or scratching though. It’s fine for most dogs, but isn’t designed to cope with chewers.
he 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.
The best orthopedic dog beds can provide greater support and comfort than standard beds. While all dogs will enjoy a comfier place to sleep, orthopedic beds are especially important for elderly dogs, arthritic dogs, or those with other joint problems.
If you have a big dog, 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 my top pick.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best orthopedic pet bed? Or do you think I’ve missed a bed that should be on this list? Let me know in the comments!