Rest, Relief and Recovery: The Science
Behind Therapeutic Dog Bed Technology
Written by Sherman Canapp, DVM, MS, CCRT, DACVS, DACVSMR;
Debra Canapp, DVM, CCRT, CVA, DACVSMR; Alyse Carter
In the past decade, there have been numerous innovations in mattress technology that have mitigated orthopedic ailments and enhanced quality of sleep for our pets. Ranging from comfort and durability to improvements in health, there are many important criteria that must be considered when it comes to pet mattress technology. From padded blankets to memory foam, what your pet sleeps on can dramatically improve or impede their joint health. What truly makes a pet bed orthopedic? To first understand this question, let’s review why your pet can benefit from an orthopedic bed.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic joint disease that affects up to 30-50% of dogs and cats during their lifetime. Repeated stress and loading placed on joints can cause secondary inflammation or synovitis, which over time, can lead to arthritic changes. Degradation of cartilage and decreased joint fluid lubrication can manifest in stiffness and pain for your pet. There are many factors that can contribute to OA: genetics, body weight, diet, exercise, gender, age and secondary effects of more serious orthopedic issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, cranial crucial ligament (CCL) disease, etc. While OA itself cannot be cured, there are treatment options that can help alleviate pain for your pet. In addition to diet and exercise, treatment for OA is multimodal and can range from joint supplements to a formal rehabilitation program at your local veterinarian. However, one common household item can be considered when managing OA pain–your pet’s bed.
Just as in human orthopedics, orthopedic pet beds have several different commercially available technologies. The most common orthopedic pet bed you will see on the market is constructed from memory foam. Memory foam, which was developed in 1966 by NASA’s Ames Research Center and released to public use in the 1980s, was originally referred to as “slow spring back foam”, referring to how the open cell solid foam conforms to the body but retains original shape when pressure is removed from the surface. This groundbreaking technology was proven to increase blood flow to the body and dramatically improve pain associated with more traditional firm mattresses. To decrease the amount of body heat absorbed by the foam, gel memory foam was introduced to the market. Since the inception of memory foam, many alterations have proven its successful use in medical settings and many major mattress companies endorse the technology.
Dry Flotation Technology® is another unique advancement in orthopedics. Designed to emulate the restorative properties of water, these inter-connected air-filled cushions lower surface tension, utilize six degrees of freedom within the air cells, serves as a constant restoring force and lowers friction. Originally developed in the human medical field by Robert H. Graebe of the ROHO Group in 1973, ROHO cushions utilizing Dry Flotation Technology® were a treatment for pressure ulcers.
A ROHO cushion consists of a series of interconnected air cells that create a padded surface to sit or sleep on. More sophisticated than an air mattress, the Dry Flotation Technology® incorporates the six degrees of freedom. When pressure is applied to the surface, the individual air cells give support while adapting to the joint, not delivering unnecessary resistance and pressure, creating a more even weight
distribution. This decreases the surface tension and stimulates blood flow to the body tissues. The six degrees of freedom concept also allows for easier movement on the surface, causing less friction to painful areas.
Multiple research studies in human medicine have been conducted comparing the restorative effects of the ROHO cushions to other technologies, including memory foam. In most cases, the Dry Flotation Technology has proven to increase capillary blood flow ensuring better oxygenation and nutrients to the local tissue cells. In the diagram below, you can see the impact of the ROHO cushion (right) versus the foam cushion (left) and the amount of stress exerted on the tissues while in a seated MRI. Even weight distribution eliminates painful points in the cushion, unlike foam, which will deepen and flatten over time, causing discomfort on the joints.
Dry Flotation Technology has now been incorporated into pet beds to provide the science of therapeutic rest to the pet market. Unlike foam, the air cells do not absorb your pet’s body temperature, so overheating is not a concern.
Pet beds with Dry Flotation Technology® are recommended as an orthopedic solution to OA. Increased blood flow to the tissues reduces pain symptoms associated with OA and relieves excess pressure on the joints. This bed is also critical for post-surgical patients who are seeking a restorative bed that will not impact sore and delicate areas.
For more information about pet beds with Dry Flotation Technology, visit www.underdogpetproducts.com.
Gefen, A. (2014). Tissue changes in patients following spinal cord injury and implications for wheelchair cushions and tissue loading: A Literature Review. Ostomy Wound Management, 60(2), 34-45.
Levy, A., Kopplin, K., & Gefen. A. (2016). Device-related pressure ulcers from a biomechanical perspective. Journal of Tissue Viability. doi: 10.1016/j.jtv.2016.02.002
Levy A., Kopplin K., Gefen, A. (2016). A computer modeling study to evaluate the potential effect of air cell-based cushions on the tissues of bariatric and diabetic patients. Ostomy wound Management, 62(1), 22-30.
Levy A., Kopplin K. Gefen A. (2015). Adjustability and adaptability are critical characteristics of pediatric Support Surfaces. Advances in wound Care, 4(10), 615-622.
Levy A., Kopplin K. Gefen A. (2014). Computer simulations of the efficacy of air-cell-based cushions in protecting against reoccurrence of pressure ulcers. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 51(8), 1297-1310.
Levy A., Kopplin K. Gefen A. (2014). An air-cell-based cushion for pressure ulcer protection remarkably reduces tissue stresses in the seated buttocks with respect to foams: Finite element studies. Journal of Tissue Viability, 23(1), 13-23.
Levy A., Kopplin K. Gefen A. (2013). Simulations of skin and subcutaneous tissue loading in the buttocks while regaining weight-bearing after a push-up in wheelchair user. Journal of Mech Behav Biomed Mater, 28(1), 436-47.
Shoham, N., Levy, A., Kopplin, K., & Gefen, A. (2015). Contoured foam cushions cannot provide long-term protection against pressure-ulcers for individuals ith a spinal cord injury: Modeling studies. Advances in Skin & Wound Care, 28(7), 303-316