Unfortunately, the term 'Orthopaedic' when applied to dog beds is just a marketing term and can mean very little. There is no industry or professional body accreditation or standards to give weight to what an 'Orthopaedic Dog Bed' should represent.
Having said that, as a potential dog bed buyer you expect an orthopaedic dog bed to fulfill certain essential functions -
Undoubtedly, the bed needs to be supremely comfortable
It needs to have adequate and effective insulation to shield your dog from cold, hard floors
It should protect, support and cushion your dogs joints, muscles and exposed pressure points to both help alleviate any existing pain and/or help delay or prevent the onset of musculoskeletal conditions in the future.
It should allow for unrestricted freedom of movement and a sleep surface that is sufficiently firm to provide correct spinal alignment no matter what position your dog prefers to sleep.
The bed should be highly effective at helping to regulate your dogs body heat – a hot dog will be restless and sleep patterns will be interrupted and fitful.
Lastly, it should provide a raised sleep surface which is both easy to access and exit without undue strain and discomfort.
Many dog beds have inadequate insulation leading to pressure points
In addition, like all dog beds, you should expect the bed to be constructed in such a way that these properties will remain for years. Nobody, least of all your dog, wants a bed that sags, clumps and starts to break down shortly after purchase.
A badly-fitted Doughnut Dog Bed showing potential pressure points
A further consideration is that you will want a dog bed that is easy to maintain and keep clean. Removable, washable covers and a water resistant lining of some description to protect the filling from damp, mildew, mould and infestation is a must.
Finally, you expect the bed to be completely safe with no danger of your dog ingesting potentially harmful chemicals or for the bed to 'off-gas' and release Volatile Organic Compounds' into your home.
The term Orthopaedic Dog Bed' tends to be synonymous with 'Memory Foam Dog Bed'. However, as a consumer, you need to be aware that a) not all memory foam is the same, b) memory foam has some distinct issues and drawbacks.
Memory foam is a wonderful invention – Dog bed and mattress manufacturers love it because it is relatively cheap, it is light and easy to store and ship and it is simplicity itself to cut and shape. In slab form it can provide a comfortable and supportive sleep surface. (Memory foam crumbs / chips or off-cuts should be avoided at all cost)
Berkeley's Orthopaedic Dog Bed Mattress with Pocket Spring Core
However, being petroleum-based, it is highly flammable necessitating the application of some form of flame retardant treatment. Unfortunately, many of these treatments contain highly toxic chemical compounds that have been linked to a wide variety of complaints and illnesses so please ensure that you do your research and satisfy yourself on this issue before purchase.
Secondly, memory foam reacts with temperature. A memory foam bed can take time to mold to a supportive profile and this change is not instantaneous (unlike pocket springs). Memory foam can also be slow to dissipate heat build-up – a particular concern for working and long haired dog breeds who may find the bed just too warm.
The 13 Layer Construction in a Berkeley Orthopaedic Dog Bed
This blog article isn't meant to be a sales pitch – suffice to say that Berkeley's Orthopaedic Mattress has been designed to offer a superior alternative to memory foam dog beds and one that genuinely meets the key criteria required in a true orthopaedic dog bed.