Your pup may seem super-nimble and able to easily navigate all the stairs in your home. You may think they can easily leap on and off the bed, out of the car and anywhere else they need to go. But is all that jumping actually hurting your pet? You may need to invest in a pet ramp.
The Problem with Jumping
If you have a younger dog (or even cat), you might assume that all the jumping up and down and climbing all those stairs is a piece of cake. After all, they look like they’re taking it all in stride, so they should be fine, right?
But all that climbing and jumping can actually be pretty dangerous. Not only does it risk sudden or unanticipated injury, but it can also wear down your pet’s joints and bones over time. Joint pain, hip dysplasia and breaks can all arise as short-term and long-term problems associated with jumping from high distances, such as from the back of an SUV or just off the bed.
A pet ramp can help your pet more easily and safely navigate your home, as well as more easily travel with you, whether they’re riding in the back of the car or in an RV.
Pet Ramps vs. Pet Stairs vs. Pet Steps
When you start shopping for pet ramps, you’ll soon notice that your options are plentiful, and it’s not just pet ramps that you have to consider. Pet stairs and pet steps are also options. So what’s the difference?
Pet steps are usually only a few steps and are made with larger dogs in mind. They help those larger dogs get up on couches or beds.
Pet or dog stairs are usually larger in size, with more stairs than pet steps and are made with smaller dogs with shorter legs in mind.
Pet ramps work for dogs and cats of all sizes, however, and they are typically safer and more comfortable for your pet to use than steps or stairs.
Do cats need pet ramps, too?
While cats are known as jumpers more so than dogs, even cats need a little bit of help as they begin to age. If you’re noticing that your furry feline friend is no longer jumping up on the countertop or table with ease, it might be a sign that it’s time to add a ramp or pet stairs to your home. Stairs may be fine for most cats, but if they’re showing signs of pain, a ramp will be necessary.
How to Choose a Pet or Dog Ramp
Do you think a dog or pet ramp could be exactly what your pooch needs? Then you’ll want to keep a few things in consideration as you start to shop.
How do you intend to use your dog ramp? Will you be using it alongside the bed? At the car? By the couch? You’ll want to purchase a dog ramp that’s suitable for however you intend to use it. You need it to be the right height and length for your space.
What is the dog ramp made from? You can find plastic and PVC dog ramps, metal dog ramps and wooden dog ramps. The plastic variants are usually the most affordable, the easiest to clean and the easiest to take on the go, but they’re not necessarily as sturdy or as aesthetically pleasing as some of the other options.
The metal dog ramps are definitely the sturdiest and usually more suitable for heavier dogs; however, they’re not exactly easy to move around your home or take traveling. You can find some collapsible or folding dog ramps made from metal; just be sure to keep your fingers clear as these heavy ramps can cause serious pain if you catch your fingers in their folding joints.
Wooden dog ramps are usually the most aesthetically pleasing and often chosen for use in your home’s common spaces, as they’re not as much of an eyesore.
Less commonly, you’ll come across ramps made from a plush foam material. These aren’t as sturdy as the other ramps, and they’re intended for inside use only. However, they are ideal for some pet parents who want a lightweight solution for very lightweight dogs.
Whatever the main body of the ramp is made from, look for ramps that feature some sort of traction, non-slip material where your pet will be walking.
Your pet’s size and ability
You, of course, want to ensure your new dog ramp is suitable for your dog’s size, as well as your dog’s ability. If your dog is fairly young, with little impairment, you can probably choose from a wider array of ramps. If your dog is not as young and deals with some mobility issues, then you may want to take greater care with the ramp you choose.
Dogs with mobility issues will specifically need a ramp with a lesser slope so that they can climb up the ramp more easily and with less effort. For dogs with mobility issues, look for ramps with slopes of 18 degrees or less.
You’ll find that pet ramps come in two primary designs — folding and telescopic. Telescopic ramps slide inward and outward until they’re the size you need, and then you lock them in place. Folding pet ramps unfold to one or two different sizes. Telescopic ramps are usually the most adjustable of the two.
Other things to keep in mind include the ramp’s ease of assembly (the easier it is to assemble, the more likely you’ll start using it, faster) and whether or not the ramp’s manufacturer offers replacement covers. Replacement covers can come in handy in case your pet uses the ramp quite a lot and wears down the traction pads. You might also want to consider weatherproofing, especially if you plan on using the ramp to help your pet climb in and out of your vehicle or RV.
Best Dog Ramps
Think you know what you need from your pet’s new ramp? Here are some of the best on the market.
The PetSafe CozyUP is a small and simple wooden bed/couch pet ramp that offers a 70-inch ramp length. It also has a small spot at the top of the ramp for your pet to stand as they get ready to climb aboard the bed, car or wherever they’re going. The ramp can support pups up to 120 pounds, and while the base is made from wood with a cherry finish, the actual ramp that your pup walks up and down is covered in a ribbed carpet surface for greater traction. It’s ideal for use with a bed (even high beds) or a couch.
But what if you need a pet ramp that’s specifically made with cars and trucks in mind? If you’re wanting to get your large dog into the truck bed or back of your SUV, you’ll want to try the PetSafe Happy Ride Ramp. The aluminum metal ramp isn’t a looker, but it is incredibly sturdy and can support up to 300 pounds.
Is a ramp that can safely support up to 300 pounds still not heavy-duty enough for you? Then go with the PetSTEP ramp, which can safely support up to 500 pounds.
The rubberized surface makes the ramp safe to use in both wet and dry conditions, perfect for getting your pet into the car after a trip to the beach or lake or just around town on a rainy day. The waterproof materials won’t rust or corrode and, if you need to wipe away mud, dirt or other debris, you can simply spray off the ramp with the water hose.
But maybe you don’t need something quite so extreme. If you need something a little smaller for getting your pup simply from the backseat of your car, go with this smaller Travel Lite ramp that’s ideal for younger dogs or small dog breeds. While it can hold pets up to 200 pounds, the overall size isn’t that large, so you’d be better off using this ramp for your Maltese than your Mastiff.
Another ramp better suited to small breeds, the Gen7Pets Mini Ramp is designed for indoor use only, with your couch or bed. Carpet-lined, the ramp folds flat for easy storage and is even outfitted with a handle, so you can carry it with you on the go.
This foam ramp is only ideal for pets up to 70 pounds and essentially looks like a foam wedge that you just slide up next to your couch. It comes in a handful of colors, so you can pick the option that works best with your decor. Cats like this option just as much as dogs.
The Alpha Paw PawRamp 2.0 claims that it’s the top, #1 vet recommended pet ramp — and the brand is so sure that you’ll like its pet ramp the best that it will allow you to try the ramp out for free for 90 days. The ramp’s adjustable height means it can be used with just about any size bed or couch, and it comes fully assembled. The ridged carpet top prevents slips, and the ramp supports dogs up to 80 pounds.
For something lightweight, small, plastic and budget-friendly, look to the TRIXIE pet ramp. Made with smaller dogs in mind but still supportive of up to 110 pounds, this plastic and rubber portable dog ramp can be used both indoors and outdoors. It works with most low-to-the-ground vehicles and furniture and features side rails to better keep your pet on course.
If your dog doesn’t quite need a ramp yet and you’d like a step solution that you can take on the go, consider this portable hitch step that supports senior dogs up to 200 pounds.
It installs onto your vehicle’s current hitch receiver and then stays there, for no more needless attaching and then detaching any time you want to take Rover along with the fam.
The two steps make for an easier time getting in and out of tall vehicles, and the steps are covered in a high-traction, non-slip surface for safe stepping whatever the weather.
This high-density foam option provides low, slip-free steps for both dogs and cats. One of the best features? The fabric cover is removable, so if you want to clean it, just unzip it and throw it in the wash. The foam steps are ideal for smaller pets under 60 pounds.
How to Get a Pet to Use a Pet Ramp
So you’ve purchased your brand-new pet ramp. You assemble it and set it up… but Fido has no interest in using it. Now what do you do?
No worries. Sometimes, you’ll need to train your dog to use their new ramp. After all, they don’t know what it is, and it may seem a little scary and new.
To better encourage your dog to use their new ramp, allow them to first become simply accustomed to it. Let them smell it, see it and walk on it while it’s lying flat. Teach them to walk on the tread while it’s flat as well; this can get them accustomed to the texture and material.
Once they become comfortable with walking on the ramp while it’s lying flat, gently increase the slope until they become comfortable walking on the ramp to get to wherever it is you want them to go, whether that be the bed, couch or car. Every time they successfully walk on the ramp, be sure to reward them with a treat.
Keep Your Pet Safe, with a Pet Ramp or Stairs
As your pet ages, they can’t do what they used to, so keep them safe with the right gear. A set of pet stairs or a pet ramp can ensure older dogs and cats retain their mobility longer and better avoid injuries related to old age and joint deterioration.
You might also be interested in: The Importance Of Canine Rehabilitation: Tips From A Veterinarian
Best Pet Ramps:
- PetSafe CozyUp Bed Ramp
- PetSafe Happy Ride Extra long Telescoping Ramp
- PetSTEP Original Folding Pet Ramp
- Pet Gear Travel Lite Bi-Fold Ramp for Cats and Dogs
- Gen7Pets Mini Indoor Foldable Dog Ramp
- Royal Ramps Pet Ramp
- Alpha Paw PawRamp 2.0
- TRIXIE Pet Ramp
- PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Hitch Step
- Topmart High Density Foam Dog Steps