Best Orthopedic Dog Bed of 2017 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

The top-rated beds for older dogs (or those with joint pain)

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.

We've compiled a list of the best orthopedic dog beds

All dogs deserve more than a rug to sleep on - but some require extra support.

Does your pet struggle to get up from his bed? Or does he look stiff after sleeping? If so, his bed could be the problem - and an orthopedic bed the answer.

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 prevent 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.​

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:

  1. ​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.
  2. 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.
  3. Dogs with injuries can also benefit from an orthopedic mattress for the same reasons.
  4. 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.

Washable Cover

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.​

Supportive Foam

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 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's 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 memory foam, aside from the price, is that it has low airflow. If your dog regularly overheats, it may not be the best choice. We have a page dedicated to memory foam dog beds if you want more information about this type of material.

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 Ruffwear Urban Sprawl (see below).

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 size of a dog bed is another vital consideration. 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.
  • 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.

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 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.

ImageNameBest for...Price RangeView Price
Big Barker Orthopedic Dog BedBig dogs that need extra support$$$$$View Price
DogBed4Less Orthopedic Memory FoamSmall/medium-size breeds or dogs that need maximum support for joints$$$View Price
K9 Ballistics Orthopedic LUXNon-chewers or diggers who enjoy maximum comfort$$$$$View Price
Milliard Premium OrthopedicSmall/medium-size dogs if you're on a tight budget$$View Price
Ruffwear Urban SprawlIf you want a supportive bed with a fully-washable mattress & cover$$$$View Price
Our top pick is the Big Barker

1. Big Barker Dog Bed

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 justify the bed's cost. 

As the name suggests, the Big Barker is specifically designed for larger dogs. In practice, this means the bed is calibrated to allow for a comfortable "sink" for big dogs without letting them touch the floor. The 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 cover, several colour options and three sizes. A waterproof cover isn't included, but this can be bought separately.​

Quick Summary: If you have a medium or large dog breed, the Big Barker is my #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 orthopedic dog bed, there aren't many that can match the Big Barker.

  • ​Type: Bolster or Rectangular
  • Material: 7" total with layers of comfort + support foam
  • Sizes Available: 48 x 30 inches, 52 x 36 inches, 60 x 48 inches
  • Price Range: $$$$$
  • Excellent support and comfort for big dogs
  • Guaranteed to not sag for at least a decade
  • Easy-to-wash external cover
  • Waterproof cover must be bought separately
The DogBed4Less is a memory foam bed

2. DogBed4Less Memory Foam Bed

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 options.

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.

Quick Summary: 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.

  • Type: Rectangular
  • Material: 4" Memory Foam (single layer)
  • Sizes Available: 35 x 20 inch, 37 x 27 inch, 40x35 inch, 41 x 27 inch, 47 x 29 inch, 53 x 37 inch, 55 x 47 inch
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Waterproof internal cover and washable denim external cover
  • Solid memory foam for supportive contouring do your dog's body
  • Great value
  • Cover won't withstand heavy chewing
The K9 Ballistics Lux is designed for luxury - but isn't suitable for chewers

3. K9 Ballistics LUX

Another excellent dog bed - and one of the best dog beds for older dogs - is the K9 Ballistics Lux. This is a rectangular bed (although a bolster option is available) that's built with a combination of memory foam top layer and support foam bottom. The cover is also designed to be incredibly soft to increase the comfort of the bed - and a waterproof liner is included.

One thing to note about the LUX is that it's not covered by K9 Ballistic's chew proof guarantee (you'll need the company's TUFF series for that). The reason is that the extra-comfortable cover isn't as durable. This means it's not suitable for dogs that like to chew or scratch their bed a lot. It does come with a 10 year flattening guarantee though, so you can be sure the mattress will last a long time.​

A great feature of the K9 Ballistics LUX is the range of sizes available. With beds ranging from small 24 inch options up to giant 68 inch long beds, there is an option for all breeds.

Note: If you're looking for an orthopedic dog bed with bolster, the LUX is available in a bolster version. It still has the same 1.5" memory foam and 3.5" support foam, but also comes with a bolster for your dog to snuggle against.​

Quick Summary: The K9 Ballistics is a great choice for senior dogs who need extra support for their joints. It's not suitable for chewers or scratchers, but is very comfortable and provides excellent support.

  • Type: Rectangular (Bolster version available)
  • Material: 5" with 1.5" memory foam and 3.5 inch dense support foam
  • Sizes Available: 18 x 24 inch, 27 x 33 inch, 34 x 40 inch, 38 x 54 inch, 40 x 68 inch
  • Price Range: $$$$$
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Waterproof liner and ultra-soft cover
  • Memory foam top layer is great for relieving joint pain
  • Not chew resistant
The Milliard is a budget orthopedic

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 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.

Quick Summary: 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.

  • Type: Rectangular
  • Material: 4" with 2" memory foam and 2" support foam
  • Sizes Available: 24 x 18 inches, 34 x 22 inches, 40 x 35 inches, 46 x 35 inches
  • Price Range: $$
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Good support for small or medium breeds
  • 2" memory foam top layer
  • Not thick enough for heavy breeds
  • Not as durable as pricier options
The Ruffwear Urban Sprawl is a double-sided dog bed

5. Ruffwear Urban Sprawl

If you're looking for the best orthopedic pet bed that isn't made from foam, then the Ruffwear Urban Sprawl is a great choice. Unlike the other beds on this list, it's made from a filling of recycled polyester. This makes it highly durable and allows it to be washed in a washing machine.

One of the interesting features of the Ruffwear is that it has two sides. One provides firm support that's great as an orthopedic mattress for dogs with joint problems. This side is also the best option as a cooling surface if your dog overheats. The other side is less firm and designed to keep your dog warm during colder months. There is also a micro suede cover with a waterproof bottom.

A downside to this bed is that it's only available in two sizes: medium and large. I think the medium would be suitable for small breeds, while the large is great for medium-size dogs.​ Big dogs need a larger and thicker bed though.

Quick Summary: The Ruffwear Urban Sprawl is a durable bed that provides excellent support - even without a foam interior. It's also a versatile bed, as there are both supportive and softer surfaces depending on your dog's requirements. If you want to be able to wash both the mattress and cover of your dog's bed, it's a great option.

  • Type: Rectangular
  • Material: 4" recycled polyester
  • Sizes Available: 28 x 35 inches, 36 x 48 inches
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Mattress and cover both machine washable
  • Two-sided filling mattress for support or comfort
  • Highly durable
  • Not suitable for the biggest breeds
  • Doesn't contour to provide support like foam

Summary

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 or those with 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!