If you wish to take your dog on a boat with you, you're likely to need a dog boat ladder, platform, or ramp. They are also a good addition to a pool or a pier as they allow dogs of all breeds and sizes to easily climb back to safety if they get tired or to prevent any straining of the pet's hip and joints.

Some pets will be reluctant to jump into a boat, thus for boats in particular, ladders and platforms can save you and your dog a lot of stress and effort as they enable the canine to freely climb on and off the boat with no assistance and no fear of falling.

If you want to go river hunting with a dog, take your pooch on a weekend boat ride and have a fun day swimming, or if you just want to attach a dog ladder to your backyard pool, picking the right type is essential. Here's our dog boat ladder buying guide, how to pick the right type and what to look for.

What Are Dog Boat Ladders?What Are Dog Boat Ladders

Dog boat ladders, platforms and ramps are any ladder-like equipment that can help your pup climb back into the boat on their own. They come in different shapes, designs and sizes, depending on the breed they are intended for, the type of boat they are meant to attach to.

Some dog boat ramps are intended to be attached to the already existing boat ladder (thus making it unusable by humans for the time being), while others can be attached next to it. There are platforms and boat ladders for dogs that aren’t meant to be detachable and portable at all but are instead supposed to be bolted in place for good.

Which type of dog boat ladder you choose is a matter of the type of boat you own/use, which dog(s) it is intended for as well as your personal preference as long as it’s of a high enough quality. Here are the five best dog boat ladder choices that we've liked:

When Do You Need a Dog Boat Ladder?

Dog boat ladders serve several main functions, ranging from simple convenience, to water hunting assistance with the dog, to enabling old, arthritic and overweight canines to swim and climb back onto the boat with ease and without straining their hips and joints.

The latter example is quite important as overweight and arthritic dogs need swimming to stay in as good of a physical shape as possible but they can’t do it if they don’t have the safety of a nice boat ramp or ladder to climb back on.

Whatever the situation, the simple answer to why you need a dog boat ladder is “so that your dog doesn’t drown”. It may sound grim but dog drowning is a surprisingly common problem. Whether you’re hunting with your water dog or just swimming and having fun, safety should always come first.

How to Use a Dog Ladder for Boats?

How to use a dog boat ladder properly is very much dependent on that ladder’s design and purpose as well as the type of boat it's used on. Whether it is supposed to attach to your boat’s regular ladder or to the side of the boat, there are several safety concerns that should always be observed:

Security. Is the ladder, platform or ramp secured well enough? As these devices are made to fit as many boats as possible, they do not always fit equally well every boat. In some cases, you might have to use extra straps and bolts to make sure that the ladder is stabilized securely enough. Especially if you’re going to use it on a moving boat, making sure that it’s attached properly can literally be a matter of life or death for your dog.

Usability. Is the ladder, platform or ramp easy to climb on? Even the sturdiest ladder will be useless if your dog can’t climb on it. Some ladders are just too slippery to use in the water, while others are too steep to climb on with wet paws.

Proper fit. Is the ladder, platform or ramp suitable for your dog’s breed, size, and weight? This is a subjective consideration but it needs to be taken into account. Some ladders are too narrow for large breeds because they are meant for smaller dogs, while other ladders are not sturdy enough to suffer too much weight at once.

Always keep an eye on the dog at all times even if they are used to the ladder and can use without your assistance. At the end of the day, even the best and safest boat ladder is still a steep device lowered into the water – accidents can happen.

How to Choose a Good Dog Boat Ladder?

How to Choose a Good Dog Boat LadderThe main mistake most pet owners make is buying a dog boat ladder that doesn’t fit their boat. Especially if the ladder or ramp is meant to attach to your boat’s standard ladder, you need to make sure that it will fit perfectly well, otherwise it either becomes unusable or worse, it's attached loosely and becomes a safety hazard.

The second thing to watch for is whether the ladder or ramp is suitable for your dog in terms of size and weight. Always check what weight it can handle (some may not be a good fit for big dogs), and if the platform will work for a dog with special health conditions.

Next, it’s best to have an alternative option, so make sure that whatever you’re buying has a return period. Some of these are very expensive and are tricky to fit a boat, so if you’re allowed to return the ladder in case it doesn’t fit you can rest assured that you won’t be stuck with a useless device. Dog boat ladders are not the cheapest item.

The cost of a dog ladder for boats itself is another consideration – it can range from about a $100 to several hundred, and even up to a $1000. While the price usually corresponds with the quality of the boat ladder (such as the best dog boat ladder choices we've picked below), in general there’s no point in overpaying for something when a cheaper product could do the job just as well. With smaller breeds in particular, there are more affordable boat ladders for dogs that will be perfectly safe for them.

There are many different designs of dog ladder, platform or ramp for a boat to choose from and while we don’t know which will be the most suitable for your particular boat or situation, we did find five brands of best dog boat ladders, ramps, and platforms for you to take a look at.

The 5 Best Dog Boat Ladder Choices

1. Pet Loader H2O XL

This pet loader platform plus ladder is an excellent option for most boats, as well as for pontoons, pools or piers. It attaches to most things relatively easily thanks to its 2 stainless steel brackets which need 4 holes to be installed.

Pet Loader H2O XL
8 Reviews
Pet Loader H2O XL
  • Dog stairs for boats,...
  • The safe and easy way for your...
  • Models to fit fiberglass boats...
  • High grade stainless steel and...
  • Made in the U.S.A. by Pet...

The ladder can hold up to 150 pound dogs although it’s advisable to use it for dogs that are below 100 pounds. The ladder doesn’t fold but is still compact enough to transport easily enough.

The ladder makes it very easy to dogs of most sizes and physical conditions to climb back to safety thanks to its sturdy and durable design. The rubber matting is also there to ensure good traction regarding of how wet the ladder and your dog are.


  • Durable stainless steel construction.
  • A 150 pound weight limit.
  • Rubber matting on the steps for extra traction.


  • It comes at a rather hefty price.
  • Needs to be bolted in place.


2. Great Day LP500 Pet Platform

Great Day’s Load-a-Pup platform isn’t exactly a ladder but when attached to your boat’s standard ladder it creates a couple of easy steps for your pooch to climb on.

Great Day Load-A-Pup 14x20in Pet-Loading Platform
276 Reviews

It’s made to fit almost any standard boat ladder and can be adjusted at different heights, depending on its distance from the water and how many steps you want to leave usable.

The platform is made out of a lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum. It includes gripping ridges that ensure a sturdy and stable experience.


  • Lightweight and easily portable.
  • Very easy to attach and detach.
  • Fits most standard boat ladders.


  • The platform and the ladder can’t be used at the same time.


3. Paws Aboard Doggy Boat Ladder and Ramp

A great attachment to boat ladders, this Paws Aboard boat ramp can help any small-to-medium arthritic, overweight or just older dog have fun in the water.

Paws Aboard Doggy Boat Ladder and Ramp
154 Reviews
Paws Aboard Doggy Boat Ladder and Ramp
  • The Doggy Boat Ladder is an...
  • Portable, lightweight and...
  • Making boating fun and safe...

It’s easy to attach to most boats’ ladders, although the sturdiness with which it will get attach may vary. In some cases, it might be beneficial to buy some extra straps to properly secure the ramp.

Once it’s installed, however, it makes climbing up and down a much easier task. Larger dogs may not feel too comfortable on it as it is designed for smaller or medium-sized breeds. It’s also very lightweight and easily portable and durable overall.


  • Lightweight and easily portable.
  • Fits most standard boat ladders.


  • The ramp isn’t easy to attach and can feel cumbersome at times. Certain ladders may need extra straps to secure it properly.


4. Pawz Pet Products Doggy Boat Ladder and Ramp

This Pawz Pet Products attachable dog boat ramp is a great solution for people whose dogs have trouble climbing on their boats’ ladders. The ramp can be attached to different standard ladder sizes as long as they are at least 12 inches wide.

Pawz Pet Products Doggy Boat Ladder and Ramp
19 Reviews
Pawz Pet Products Doggy Boat Ladder and Ramp
  • Easy to Carry and Store
  • Measures 16 by 64 inches, and...
  • Rust and Corrosion-Proof 
  • Portable, Lightweight, Durable...
  • Reduces Pain and Strain for...

This condition is the main drawback a lot of customers encounter as a lot of boats have ladders that are 8-10 inches wide. As long as yours is wider, however, this ramp will give your dog a very comfortable way to climb back into the boat.

The ramp itself measures 16 x 64 inches I dimensions. It’s made out of durable plastic that’s both rust- and corrosion-proof. It’s in a bright yellow color to make it easier for your dog to notice it while in the water. It also folds very easily in half, making a lightweight and portable device to carry around.


  • Fits different ladder sizes.
  • Rust- and corrosion-proof.
  • Foldable and easily portable.


  • Can’t fit onto ladders that are less than 12 inches wide.


5. Beavertail Aluminum Folding Dog Ladder

This unique olive drab colored ladder works well as a ladder/platform for most boats. The rubber arms of the ladder can easily adjust to fit your particular boat while also preventing scratches and any undesirable noises.

Beavertail Aluminum Folding Dog Ladder, Olive Drab...
149 Reviews
Beavertail Aluminum Folding Dog Ladder, Olive Drab...
  • This ultra strong two-way...
  • Floods up for easy storage
  • Olive drab color

The ladder itself is comfortable to walk and climb on and is made out of a durable stainless steel and aluminum construction. One notable drawback is the width of fewer than 12 inches which may not be enough for some larger dog breeds to comfortably walk on.

Aside from that, the ladder is easy to attach and detach, it’s foldable which makes it easier to carry with you, and it doesn’t need to be added to the boat’s standard ladder and make the latter unusable for people.


  • Adjustable rubber arms to fit most boats.
  • Stainless steel plus aluminum construction.
  • Foldable and easily portable design.


  • The ladder is only 11-3/4″ wide which is too narrow for some larger breeds.


Dogs love to swim but climbing into a boat can be a challenge for even the most athletic canine, and particularly so for dogs with arthritis or those scared of boats. A dog boat ladder, platform or ramp is an effective solution to this problem as these devices allow even old, overweight or arthritic dogs to climb back to safety with ease.

Still, it is important for the dog ramp or dog ladder for boats to be chosen intelligently as not all products can fit all boats (or dog breeds). Materials used and the construction of these items are also a concern as ladders and platforms are usually relatively expensive but can still be of sub-par quality.

READ NEXT: The Best Dog Ramps for Water

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5 Top Rated Best Dog Boat Ladder Brands

Dom Naish is a Phoenix-based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught him every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.