What is an Orthopedic Dog Bed?

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Question: What is Orthopedic Dog Bed? How are they different from a regular Dog bed? 

Hi i’d like to know what’s the definition of an “orthopedic” bed? The term seems to be thrown around a lot, when we’re talking about mattresses … is that a real term with any kind of regulation around it? How is an orthopedic dog bed different from a regular dog bed? Is searching for “orthopedic” beds a good place to start, or should pet parents prioritize something different for senior/arthritic dogs? What qualities should pet parents look for in an “orthopedic” bed? Which dogs will get the most mileage out of an orthopedic bed? Which won’t? (maybe dogs recovering from an injury or those with hip dysplasia?) Ultimately: do you think these beds offer real health benefits? And can they help my dog feel better?


Orthopedic pet beds generally provide significantly more padding than traditional pet beds. Some include memory foam, which is especially good at reducing pressure on skin and over joints. However, there is no regulation over the use of the term “orthopedic” when it comes to dog beds. Pets with chronic musculoskeletal problems like osteoarthritis often benefit from orthopedic beds. The extra padding helps support painful joints and provides insulation against cold floors that can worsen a dog’s symptoms.

Pets with thin skin or bony frames, including the elderly or breeds like greyhounds, enjoy sleeping on orthopedic beds since thinner mattresses may lead to uncomfortable pressure points and potentially pressure sores. Any pet who spends a lot of time lying down would appreciate the extra support and padding of an orthopedic bed. If your dog is suffering from illness or injury, is disabled, or is getting on in years, an orthopedic bed would make a wonderful gift.

As is the case for all pet bedding, the padding in orthopedic beds breaks down over time. Check your pet’s bed every month or so and be prepared to replace it when it becomes noticeably less “cushiony.”

Most dogs need more than one bed. Dogs want to be where their people are, so unless you’re willing to cart a bed around the house, make sure there are several in the areas where you spend most of your time and where you expect your dog to spend the night.

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If you have any specific health concerns related to your pet, please be sure to take the pet to your vet or an emergency vet, or if you have concerns related to something your pet may have eaten another option is to call a pet poison control line. Be aware that there is a fee to use these services. Two that we can recommend are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Dr. Jennifer Coates
Dr. Jennifer Coates was valedictorian of her graduating class at the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is also the author of numerous articles and books including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.