It offers more support than typical beds, especially for older animals with chronic pain.
french bulldog wrapped up in gray blanket
Credit: Anne Duden / EyeEm / Getty Images

First, what is an orthopedic dog bed? Much like an orthopedic bed for humans, it's a specially designed bed that supports the joints, back, and overall body of an animal with significantly more padding than a traditional pet bed—and much more than the floor, of course. In fact, over time, dogs that lay on a hard floor can experience wear-and-tear on their skin, elbows, joints, tendons, and ligaments, says Jim D. Carlson, DVM, and owner of Riverside Animal Clinic & Holistic Center in Chicago, and orthopedic beds can reduce the strain placed on a dog's body from laying on a hard surface.

But it's not just about support and reducing wear-and-tear when it comes to an orthopedic bed, says Carlson. The added cushioning in an orthopedic bed also provides additional warmth for your dog. "[They] preserve the warmth and make it much easier to mobilize the joints and stretch the muscles, and that reduces the risk of injury," Carlson says. Plus, they're more comfortable. That said, not every dog needs an orthopedic bed. Here are the major signs your dog might need one.

Your dog has chronic musculoskeletal problems.

Chronic musculoskeletal problems include osteoarthritis, osteochondrosis, and knee, hip, or elbow dysplasia, among others. If your dog is experiencing any of these issues, "the extra padding helps support painful joints and provides insulation against cold floors that can worsen a dog's symptoms," explains Jennifer Coates, DVM, advisory board member of Pup Life Today.

Your dog has a thin, bony frame.

Whether your dog is elderly or is a breed that's on the thinner, bonier side—think: greyhounds or whippets—he or she might enjoy sleeping on an orthopedic bed, "because thinner mattresses may lead to uncomfortable pressure points and potentially pressure sores," Coates explains.

Your pet spends a lot of time lying down.

"Any pet who spends a lot of time lying down would appreciate the extra support and padding of an orthopedic bed," Coates says. "If your dog is suffering from illness or injury, is disabled, or is getting older, an orthopedic bed would be a wonderful gift" and make them more comfortable.

Plus, if you plan to buy one, make sure you know what to look for.

If you purchase an orthopedic bed, then Carlson recommends purchasing one with a removable cover so that it can be washed. (Even better: Buy one that has a removable cover and also offers some waterproofing, just in case your dog has an accident, he says.) Then, plan to replace the bed every six months if you pet lies on it every day or if it shows signs of drooping, he says.


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