Does your fur kid use a dog ramp? If your dog suffers from mobility problems, it can quickly become your favorite tool. There are both indoor and outdoor dog ramps. Each gives your pup easy access to their favorite spaces in the house and in your car. Ramps are even beneficial for healthy pets. They take the stress off their joints when they feel that need to soar off your bed.
Dog ramps are such an integral part of life with a disabled or senior dog, it has me wondering why I’ve taken so long to write about them. Well, this post will correct that oversight and give you the tips you need to find the right ramp for your pet.
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Ramping up with indoor and outdoor dog ramps
You might not have thought about it this way, but dog ramps improve your dog’s mobility by letting them safely change from one elevation to another. Just like wheelchair ramps for humans, doggy ramps create a straight-line path that gets your dog from a flat elevation to a higher one.
Dog ramps also promote good spine health. In a recent interview, veterinary neurologist, Dr. Martin Young told me that 40-60% of dogs who’ve had spine surgery, reinjure themselves. The injuries occur from simple activities like hopping off the sofa or trying to jump into the car. For dogs with mobility issues, flying off the furniture one too many times can lead to serious problems.
The impact of jumping also has health consequences to dogs with stiff and inflamed joints due to arthritis and those recovering from surgery. A leap from the floor into your arms can have permanent repercussions.
The right ramp strategically-placed in your home or vehicle is also beneficial to your wellbeing. Pet owners get sore and achy backs when they have to lift a disabled dog all day. So, think of your dog ramp as a pain-free alternative for both you and your pup.
What to consider before you buy a ramp
- Ramps come in a variety of materials from light-yet durable aluminum to heavy-duty plastic. And a few indoor ramps are made from wood. Don’t let the material fool you, because each can serve your needs. A lightweight aluminum ramp can also be sturdy. They’re made so you, the owner, can easily move and store them. And you might want a wood indoor ramp because they’re designed to look like a piece of furniture
- Consider how often you need the ramp. For instance, a less expensive outdoor ramp could be a fine choice for a medium-sized dog who doesn’t ride in the car every day. And a higher priced ramp might be the best choice to get your large dog down from the sofa.
- Check the maximum weight the ramp can hold, the width of the model and whether it has side rails. Small dogs can accommodate a narrower ramp than large breeds. And side rails are a necessity for dogs with balance issues.
- Be sure the ramp is long enough for your needs. A dog with mobility problems should never climb a slope of more than 18-degrees. That means you might need to purchase a longer than average ramp so the slope isn’t too steep.
- Check to see if the ramp has a high-traction surface to prevent your dog from slipping.
- Learn how the ramp folds after using it. This will help you determine where it will be stored. Some ramps fold in half while others break down like a telescope. Telescopic ramps are generally more expensive, but they have more features and adjustment capabilities. Then there are ramps that are one-piece and don’t fold at all.
- And finally, see if the ramp comes with handles. This will make carrying and storing it much easier.
7 Indoor and Outdoor Dog Ramps You’ll Love
Pet Gear Stramp Stair and Ramp Combo – This ramp got great reviews from pet owners with small dogs. They call it a “stramp” because it’s a ramp and flat stair at the top combo. I like the flat top because it gives your dog a stable surface to balance on, before making their way to a sofa or bed. The ramp also has rubber grips at the base to keep it secure. It’s lightweight and easy to move from room to room.
Solvit Wood Bedside Ramp – This is real-wood ramp that fits alongside most queen and king-size beds. It’s long enough to provide a gentle climbing angle and it has a flat landing at the top. The bedside ramp has thick carpeting for good traction. It also has a folding hinge that makes it easy to store under your bed. I like this ramp because it’s a sturdy piece of furniture and because it will accommodate big dogs weighing up 120lbs.
Outdoor Dog Ramps
Pet Gear Travel Lite Ramp with SupertraX Surface – The SupertraX ramp is known for its pressure activated traction that allows dogs to easily grip the mat as they walk. It also has side rails to prevent dogs from falling. The ramp is designed for use with mini vans or sedans, but it can be used indoors. It only weighs only 7lbs. and can hold pets up to 200lbs. I like the SupertraX because I’ve seen it being used in canine rehab clinics.
Perfect Life Dog Ramp – This heavy-duty plastic ramp is ultra-light. It folds in half for easy storage, and it can hold large dogs weighing up to 200lbs. made entirely in the USA. Perfect Life is also great for dogs that have short legs and a wide girth. It has a non-skid surface to prevent slipping and raised side rails for safety. I like this ramp because you can order it in a full 16” wide version which is ideal for dogs with poor balance, injured dogs, senior dogs and those recovering from surgery. Perfect Life says the ramp can be used indoors too.
Solvit Half Ramp II – The half ramp is made of high-density polyethylene, but it weighs only 7lbs. It’s a short ramp for use with vans, cars and indoors. It’s a great option for small dogs, but the generous width and durability supports up to 200lbs for big dogs as well. It has a textured surface for good traction. I like the Half Ramp because of its compact length. Not every situation calls for a long ramp.
Solvit PetSafe Deluxe Extra Long Telescoping Pet Ramp – This is an extra-long, deluxe ramp that weighs 18 lbs. The telescoping feature makes it easy to pick up and transport. And the ultra-stiff design is extremely stable due to 4 rubber feet that keep the ramp from slipping.
This “big boy” can hold up to 300lbs. It also has guide rails on either side to help dogs feel secure. I think this ramp is perfect for giant breed dogs who need the extra length to walk up a slope.
Rage Powersports Extra Wide Pet Ramp – This ramp is light and has a durable grit coated surface for an easy climb. It’s made of aluminum so it will never rust. Heavy-duty hinges make it easy to fold and store. The ramp can hold dogs up to 250lbs. I like this ramp for large dogs who can benefit from the full 18.75” width.
Training your dog to use their ramp
Just like people, every dog has a different temperament. That means your dog might look at your new ramp and walk right up onto it. But for many dogs it will take time and patience to learn to love their ramp.
In this case, start with a slow introduction that includes allowing your pup to sniff the ramp and get a good look at it while it’s lying flat on the ground.
Then use a combination of tasty treats and a leash to slowly guide your pup onto it.
Once they’ve gained their confidence, add a gradual incline until it’s at the level needed.
These steps might have to be broken down into several practice sessions, especially if your dog is fearful.
When to start using a ramp
When mobility issues begin, is the best time to introduce a ramp. Keep an eye on your dog when they get up from the floor or go for walks. If you notice hind end weakness, a slower-than-normal gait or even wincing, it’s probably time to start ‘ramping up’ your home.
Weak muscles make climbing difficult. You don’t want to wait until your dog gets hurt trying to do their normal routine without assistance.
Avoid doggy stairs
Portable stairs are often viewed as another method for getting up and down furniture for pups. After all, these simple steps take up less room in your home and make it easier for pets to change elevations without jumping.
But, it’s important to remember the root cause of your dog’s need for help – mobility. In this case, stairs are not a good alternative to ramps.
Dogs with mobility problems are unsteady on their feet, so asking them to lift a paw up to climb steep slope (like the rung of a stair) can cause trouble. The quick elevation change can also impact already weakened joints and muscles.
Ramps, on the other hand, have a gentle slope and a flat surface. By nature, there’s less of a drastic change from step to step, helping your dog travel in a straight line.
Ramp up to success
Whether you choose one for indoors or outside, I hope this article has demonstrated how a dog ramp can be a wonderful solution for pets with mobility problems.
Do you have a favorite dog ramp in your home? Or have you found a different solution to elevation changes for your pet? If so, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!