We put so much care into our pets, making sure they’re eating the healthiest food, getting proper exercise, and feeling adored at all times. One of the best things you can do for your dog, especially if they're getting older or suffer from joint pain, is to invest in a quality orthopedic dog bed. After all the love they’ve given you over the years, your pup deserves top-grade beauty sleep.
What is an orthopedic dog bed?
“Orthopedic dog beds are designed to relieve pressure on joints and provide spring-like support to make it easier for dogs to lie down and rise,” explains Dr. Tory Waxman, licensed veterinarian and co-founder of Sundays for Dogs. According to estimates, one in five dogs experience joint issues in their lifetimes, resulting in pain and potential mobility challenges. The numbers go even higher in dog breeds prone to specific joint issues.
“Unfortunately, arthritis is extremely common in senior pets, and can often afflict large-breed dogs even at a young age,” explains Waxman. “Health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia or previous orthopedic injuries can predispose dogs to have arthritis.” Beyond beds, “keeping your dog at an ideal body weight is the most important way to support and maintain joint health,” advises Waxman. “You’ll want to feed your pup a high-quality diet with high levels of DHA and EPA.”
“Keep in mind when buying an orthopedic dog bed, that just like your own bed, sleeping in it won’t cure or prevent ailments,” advises home improvement expert Kathryn Emery. “But it can provide support, comfort and a better quality of life, especially if you have a senior dog who struggles with pain management,” explains Emery. “Look at how your dog sleeps now. Are they cuddlers, or do they like to stretch out, or maybe a little of both. Do they always like to rest their head on an elevated surface? Take note of their preferences before deciding on the bed that’s best for them.”
And always, if your dog is experiencing joint pain and discomfort, take them to their veterinarian, who can suggest the best pain management plan for their individual needs.
Ahead, the best orthopedic dog beds for every pup’s need, all expert-recommended.
Newton Baby makes mattresses for babies and children, but they also have a line of dog beds—and it’s not only loved by experts, it’s loved by W+G staffers. “It’s Greenguard Gold Certified,” explains Waxman, “which means it’s undergone rigorous testing for over 10,000 chemical emissions and VOCs (which are gasses that are emitted into the air from solids or products).” So if it’s safe for your baby, it’s safe for your fur-baby. It’s 100 percent machine washable, from cover to core, making it great for senior dogs who may be more prone to having accidents, and require more frequent clean-up.
W+G’s senior commerce editor upgraded her three-year-old 90-pound German Shepherd’s bed with this one from Newton Baby (the Large/X-Large for $250), and it’s the only surface she’ll sleep on. She’s never been attached to a bed quite like this one—and you can tell that it makes her really happy (sometimes she’ll just snuggly in it with a toy). It’s a splurge, but when you have a breed (like GSDs) that are predisposed to joint and hip disorders, you do what you can to ensure optimal joint mobility throughout their life.
Best for large dogs
If you have a very large dog, this pick from Big Barker is your best bet. It comes in three sizes: large, extra large and giant. These sizes are definitely too overwhelming for smaller dogs, who need something a bit more manageable for them—just an FYI.
“The cover is 100 percent micro-suede, which is velvety soft to the touch,” explains Emery. “And it has a pillow-top head rest, which is great for bigger dogs who like to lay their head on an elevated surface but don’t want the constriction of bolsters on all sides.” One Amazon reviewer writes, “This is the Rolls-Royce of dog beds! I bought it for my elderly border collie who has arthritis and hip dysplasia. He loves it because it’s large enough for him to lie straight out with plenty of legroom.”
Best cuddler bed
A “cuddler bed” is the term used for plush pet beds that are designed for dogs that like to curl up when they sleep, instead of stretching out or lying flat. They’re often circular in design, and they’re excellent for dogs who need that extra emotional and physical support while they sleep.
“UnHide’s orthopedic bed is made from vegan faux fur, so it’s a great choice for dogs who prefer a warm, comfy bed over a flat bed,” says Waxman. Side note: the brand is known for their faux fur blankets, which are *out of this world* cozy (your pets will enjoy them, but they’re also a treat for the humans in your life).
This bolster bed from Orvis is excellent for elderly dogs who may have more advanced joint pain. “It’s very supportive because it’s made of solid memory foam, i.e. not chopped up,” explains Waxman. “It’s also available in ToughChew® fabric, which is great for dogs who have a tendency to chew their beds.” Also, even if your dog isn’t prone to chewing, if they’re larger or stronger and tend to wear through toys and beds quickly, you’ll want an extra-durable bed because it’ll last longer and you’ll get your money’s worth.
This orthopedic dog bed comes in sizes going up to XXL jumbo, which is just over $200–a great value for that size. Orthopedic dog beds in general are pricier than standard beds, and the largest sizes are often upwards of $300. So while it’s an investment, this is very reasonably priced. It also has a memory foam design and larger bolsters, “which are great for pups who like to snuggle or sleep curled up,” says Emery. “And it has a baby mattress-grade base, which is the best of both worlds: gentle and soft, but firm and supportive.”
The term “orthopedic dog bed” sounds so clinical, but they don’t have to be eyestores. And this one from Fable Pets comes in the prettiest colors like dusty rose, sage green and silver blue. It’s great if you want it displayed in a highly-trafficked area of your home, like your living room, because it complements any design aesthetic. “Fable not only makes a sleek and modern bed, but their product is also UV-resistant, so it can be used indoors and outdoors,” explains Waxman. Plus, both the interior (which is made of crushed memory foam) and the exterior is machine washable for easy cleaning.
If you’re looking for something specifically for travel, whether you’re taking your pet on vacation or just want to spend the afternoon outside at the park, this is an excellent pick. “For elderly dogs especially, you don’t want them laying on the hard floor so this is a great portable bed to keep them comfortable wherever you go,” says Emery. “It’s elevated and made with breathable HDPE fabric, which will help keep them cool. And it’s very compact, and easily opens and folds up with a built-in carrying bag and shoulder strap.”
If you just recently adopted a senior dog and are new to buying dog beds, it can feel comforting to go with a household brand name you’re familiar with. Waxman recommends Casper’s dog bed, because it’s engineered by the same team who created the wildly popular mattress for humans. If you have a Casper mattress and love it, consider getting one for your pup. “Casper’s dog bed cover is very durable and machine washable,” says Waxman. Plus, just like their mattresses it has a 30 night risk-free trial, so you can test it out without fully committing.
This is an excellent orthopedic dog bed that’s suitable for a wide range of dog breeds, sizes and ages. “It has a solid memory foam base and the bolsters are stuffed with recycled poly-fill,” explains Emery. Bolsters are the support walls on the sides, “which are great if your pup likes to curl up or rest their head on an elevated pillow. And the removable cover is machine washable, for easy cleaning.” And it has over 18,000 reviews on Amazon, with nearly a 5-star average rating. One reviewer raved, “I bought this bed for my eledery boxer, and I love it. The thick memory foam base is very supportive, and she loves resting her head on the cushion rolls. Well worth the money.”
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