Orthopedic vs Memory Foam For Dogs

memory foam dog bed

When you own a dog that is very active throughout the day, It’s important to ensure they have the correct bed for their lifestyle. Whether you have a working dog or you take them on long walks, beds will be an important factor in the long-term condition of your furry friend. This article gives a detailed insight into the difference between an Orthopedic dog and a memory foam dog bed, both of which are popular choices for an active dog.

Both orthopedic and memory foam beds provide support for your dog’s joints. Orthopedic beds are commonly designed with joint care in mind, meaning they are firmer and provide better ergonomics than standard memory foam beds. 


Is Orthopedic Or Memory Foam Better For Dogs?

When researching a good quality dog bed it is important to know the difference between memory foam and orthopedic. Memory foam dog beds are a popular choice for owners as they are known for their comfort. However just because a dog bed is made from memory foam does not mean it is built to the same specifications of an orthopedic dog bed.

Is Memory Foam Good For Dogs?

Memory foam is a great option for a dog bed and even some of the cheaper versions will give your pooch a comfortable place the rest it’s head. When it comes to purchasing a memory foam dog bed, there will be a certain correlation between quality and price. Generally speaking, the more expensive the dog bed the better quality the memory foam is. This is where a dog bed becomes orthopedic.

 What Makes a Dog Bed Orthopedic?

According to Dictionary.com the definition of orthopedics is relating to the correction of skeletal and muscular deformities. Using this definition will help with the description of what makes a dog bed orthopedic. An orthopedic dog bed is one in which the muscles and joints of your dog are sufficiently supported, meaning that they can are not under any unnecessary strain during sleep. This is important when it comes to active dogs such as working dogs.

For many active dogs, their joints and muscles go through I high amount of stress compared to other dogs. Like our own muscles and joints, they require a certain amount of time for recovery, giving them good support will help them heal without any interruption. Due to the amount of time your body is resting overnight, this becomes the best time to heal.

As highlighted above price can be a deciding factor in the quality and effectiveness of an orthopedic dog bed. Try choosing one which has a reputable brand behind it and is purpose-built for dogs with joint and muscle issues. If your dog is a large dog don’t skimp on cheaper medium models, ideally you want the majority of your dog’s body to be on the bed when lying on their side. There are a few points to think about when purchasing an orthopedic dog bed.

  1. Made from a high-quality firm memory foam
  2. Has a large enough surface area for your dog to lay completely flat out
  3. A flat surface area is more desirable in my opinion, as you will find your dog tries to arch themselves against any sidewalls.
  4. Reputable brands and reviews are the best way to sift out the rubbish, asking your vet can also help with researching the best brands.

How Big Does A Dog Bed Have To Be

Dog beds should leave enough room for your dog to move around. A good rule of thumb is a 10cm boundary between your dog and the edge of the bed.

Depending on how your dog gets comfortable non-orthopedic beds can have less of a boundary than ones designed for your dog’s joints. Joint recovery is best when supported by the bed, this means that allowing your dog to put all their weight onto the bed is important for the healing process.

Some dogs, particularly smaller breeds will often prefer to curl up like their bed is a nest. This is fine as they will want to feel protected by the cushions surrounding them. If your dog is like this but they also need to lie down fully for optimal joint recovery, then try using some blankets to help them feel better protected on a flat open bed.

dog bed measurements

What Is The Best Bed For a Dog With Arthritis?

Dogs with arthritis will need a well-supported bed that is ergonomically designed to suit their needs. You will first need to ensure the bed is to an orthopedic standard and promotes healthy joint care. Most beds that are designed for these purposes will be promoted through the use of the word orthopedic. The second most important aspect of the bed is its ergonomic design. This means that the design of the bed must fit around the dog’s size and physical ability. For example, a dog with arthritis should have a dog bed that does not require climbing out of or down from. Making your pooch as comfortable as possible is the main goal. If you’re looking for the best bed for a dog with arthritis then using reputable brands such as BarksBar and Big Barker, for those in the UK, Knufflewuff is highly reputable and has a section of the website dedicated to orthopedic dog beds.

Does My Dog Need a Bed?

Assessing whether your dog needs an orthopedic dog bed is simple to do. You should be aware that the benefits of providing your dog with a supportive dog bed are present regardless of whether your dog needs it or not. Your dog does not need to have a condition or a certain lifestyle to be able to have a supportive dog bed, I would personally recommend giving them a supportive dog to be anyway.

Issues usually arise when it comes to pricing as good orthopedic dog beds can cost more money than traditional cushioned dog beds. Here are some questions to ask yourself when assessing if your dog needs an orthopedic dog bed.

  1. Do you have an older dog?
  2. Does your dog have an above-average activity routine, long walks, cycles, etc
  3. Is your dog a working dog
  4. Does your dog suffer from arthritis or other joint and muscle issues
  5. Does your dog’s breed have a history of joint deterioration

If you answered yes to any of the above questions you should consider purchasing a good quality orthopedic dog bed. If you cannot afford to purchase a dog bed that is promoted as orthopedic then aiming to provide them with at least a memory foam equivalent should be done. Check out our article on whether your dog really needs a bed or not. “Does My Dog Need A Bed”.

memory foam dog bed

What Is An Orthopedic Dog Bed Made Of?

This is where the difference between memory foam and orthopedic dog beds becomes confusing. The majority of orthopedic dog beds are in actual fact made from a memory foam material. This is because memory foam is more supportive than traditional cushioning. As described earlier in the post, just because a dog bed is made from memory foam it does not make it orthopedic as you can get cheap memory foam material that doesn’t last.

The lesson to learn here is that a manufacturer can design a dog bed with memory foam and comfort in mind. However, to make it orthopedic there has to be some sort of ergonomic leniency towards a dog’s joints and recovery. Look at reviews and speak to your veterinarian about what constitutes a good shape for your dog. They should be considering the size, breed, and exercise routine of your dog, as this can determine what dog beds are better than others.

How Thick Should a Memory Foam Dog Bed Be?

Memory foam dog beds should range between 3 inches and 5 inches in thickness. The thickness you choose will be higher with larger dogs as they displace more mass overall.

As highlighted above you can get cheaper memory foam materials and these will mean that the thickness of your dog’s bed will preferably be higher with cheaper materials. Despite this cheap memory foam won’t keep its shape as long as better quality memory foam and so if it is affordable to you, then go with a higher quality firmer material.

How Often Should I Change My Dog’s Bed

Dog beds should be changed after they start to change shape permanently and cannot recover after washing. This is because your dog’s bed not only gives them a place to sleep but supports their joints through their ergonomic design.

Although dog beds will inevitably change shape the moment your dog starts sleeping in them, it is important to monitor how out of shape they become. If your dog starts looking uncomfortable you will need to either fluff the bed up and see if it stays stable, or the best option is to wash the bed. Air drying can often lead to insufficient shape recovery, if it is permitted tumble drying can help, although some materials do not recommend this so please the label first.

The amount you end up changing your dog’s bed can also depend on the standard of bed you get. Cheaper designs can often lead to poor shape recovery and so this ends in a false economy. Of course, not everyone can afford a top-quality dog bed and so try to do as much research as possible, looking particularly at reviews. Have a look at our more in-depth article on whether you should replace your dog’s bed and how often. “How Often Should I Replace My Dogs Bed”

Why Does My Dog Sleep On The Hard Floor

It can be quite frustrating to find your dog sleeping on the hard floor, just after you have done all that research on comfy beds for their joints. Well unfortunately dogs sometimes don’t know what’s best for them and sleeping on the floor is a response to what they feel at that time.

The usual reason your dog is sleeping on the hard floor is to cool down. As an example, we have a slate floor at home and our dog just loves to lie on this in the summer months, rather than his comfy warm bed. If this sounds like your dog you may want to check whether they are sleeping on the floor because they are hot or is it because their bed is too warm.

The location of your dog’s bed can also be a reason they choose the hard floor instead. It may be as simple as their bed is not in the room you are in or that their bed does not face the correct direction for them to be involved in the family. This is the same reason your dog will sleep at your feet. All your dog is doing at this point is trying to ensure they know when you get up so they don’t miss out on any action that might occur…. let’s say a trip to the kitchen.


So there you have it orthopedic vs memory foam dog beds. Its easy to get confused when choosing an orthopedic dog bed as most of them are made from memory foam anyway. Always bear in mind that just because a dog bed is made from memory foam doesn’t mean it is supportive or will last very long. If you enjoyed this article please check out some of our other posts.

Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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