Pet stairs and ramps are particularly useful for senior dogs with arthritis or joint problems. However, they can be very beneficial to small breeds and younger dogs as well; you just have to know how to choose the right dog stairs and dog ramps for your pet.

Jumping up onto a bed or into a vehicle puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your dog's joints, even when they're young. Over time the act of jumping up and down frequently could lead to the development of arthritis or joint pain. With the use of dog ramps and stairs, your Fido has a sturdy and stable surface to gradually help him up and down from furniture or in and out of vehicles.

And that's not even the best part! You will be able to say goodbye to back pain and pulled muscles from helping to lift your pup up wherever they need to be. Dog steps, stairs and ramps will be just as beneficial to you as they are to your pet. Not only are they a preventative measure to keep your dog's joints healthy, but ramps and stairs can also be very beneficial to dogs of any age that are recovering from an injury or surgery.

RELATED: How to Train a Dog to Use Stairs

There are many different styles, brands and features to choose from when you're shopping around for dog steps and dog ramps, so you are sure to find a color and design that will match your home's décor. The main difference between the two types of climbers is that stairs are best used next to stationary objects like beds and couches, and ramps are portable and easy to take while traveling or riding in the car.

Dog lovers have a desire to make things as comfortable as possible for their senior pets because they've been there for us for many years and we feel it is our duty to ensure their comfort. So let's dive right into this and see which type of assistance is best suited for your pooch.

Dog Ramps or Dog Stairs: How to Decide

How to Choose Correct Dog Ramps or Stairs for Your Pet
Photo: Solvit / Amazon

Every pet and each situation is different, and therefore there is no basic and simple solution for selecting either steps or a ramp.

With that being said, pet stairs are definitely a good option for dogs that are familiar with and physically capable of handling people stairs. If your dog has a tough time with regular stairs, then clearly a ramp would be a better alternative for him.

If you select pet stairs

Dog stairs come in many different sizes and heights to fit every breed. It is vital that you choose a size that best accommodates your pet, or you could end up making it physically harder on them to climb those dog stairs than it would be just to jump up.

Do your research to find out the exact measurement of pet stairs you're about to purchase. Measure your dog accurately and then measure all the furniture, vehicles and other heightened surfaces where you believe your Fido will be using those stairs on. To be completely sure, you can also seek professional help from your veterinarian or a trained associate at your local pet store for some advice on using pet stairs with dogs.

If you're shopping around for dog steps, pay close attention to:

  • Overall height
  • Depth of steps
  • Width of steps
  • Materials used
  • Bottom grip

It is essential to note the rise or height of each step. For example, regular outdoor or indoor stairs have individual step rises that measure approximately 6.5 to 7.5 inches in height. Therefore, the dog steps you choose should be of a similar size.

Another thing to consider is the depth of each stair. Your dog will prefer deep and roomy steps because they make it easy for him to climb and maneuver while walking up or down. A good rule of thumb is to be sure that each step has a depth form 10 to 12 inches for the easiest usage.

You also want to be conscious of the material your pet steps are made of. If you have a small breed dog that is lightweight, foam stairs may be a good option for him. But if your large breed dog weighs over 100 pounds, foam steps certainly won't do the trick. You can also purchase dog stairs made from plastic, wood, or metal.

Be sure to check the weight limit of any pet stairs before you purchase them.

One of the major benefits of dog steps is that they often take up less space compared to dog ramps, and both are designed for pets to reach the same height.

How to Choose Correct Dog Ramps or Stairs for Your Pet
Photo: Pet Gear / Amazon

Pet steps can be placed alongside a bed or chair and are ideal for tight or limited spaces. If your dog is young or middle-aged and in good health, steps offer a great way to move up and down safely from a variety of furnishings in almost any area of a house or apartment without taking up as much space as dog ramps do.

You can also use dog stairs outside your home, as they can be used next to decks, vehicles or dog doors. If you need any special size, most pet stairs can be customized to your specifications. Call the dealer with the dimensions in order to obtain a quote and compare it with other dealers who offer customization too.

Here are a few companies that offer customized pet stairs for dogs:

Pet stairs for dogs are becoming very popular among dog owners not only for arthritic dogs but those who are trying to keep their dogs away from joint problems ahead of time. Anything that prevents your Fido from jumping up and down, or pushing themselves too hard to climb something will benefit their joints greatly in a long run.

With so many choices of dog stairs available today – and even more of them coming onto the market with the rapid expansion of the pet industry – it can be difficult to make a good choice. Use your own best judgement, go through the tips and how-tos on Top Dog Tips, use our buying guides and cross-reference it all with all available dog products on big retailer sites. As an example, below you can find five best selling dog steps on Amazon (at the time of this writing) to analyze and compare what would be the best choice for your dog.

Top 5 Amazon Best Sellers in Dog Steps

  1. Solvit PupSTEP Plus Pet Stairs
  2. Solvit PupSTEP for Pets Plus
  3. Pet Gear Easy Step II Pet Stairs
  4. Pet Gear Easy Step III Pet Stairs
  5. Animal Planet Wooden Pet Stairs

Now let's discuss dog ramps

How to Choose Correct Dog Ramps or Stairs for Your Pet
Photo: Pet Gear / Amazon

When dog owners are looking around for steps for senior pets, a lot of them forget that it's imperative to consider any pending health or agility issues of their dogs due to age.

If your Fido is elderly (11 years or older), it is likely that climbing any stairs of any size is, at this point in his life, physically uncomfortable. Owners with senior dogs may want to stop considering dog steps and direct their sights toward a pet ramp for dogs to prevent any injuries.

It is also necessary to get your older pet acclimated to using a ramp before he is beset with further visual or muscular difficulties.

RELATED: How Dog Stairs Can Help a Dog With Arthritis

Many pet owners agree that a dog ramp is the easiest and humane solution for pets that have become arthritic or disabled with age. Ramps are also advocated for dogs that are used to single-floor homes and have never liked or mastered using the stairs. Ramps should also be considered for dogs recovering from an injury who would benefit from the straight walk up as opposed to lifting their legs over stairs.

Special consideration needs to be made when selecting the proper ramp length.

Obviously the higher the reach, the longer the ramp is required to be. As a result, the length of the ramp directly impacts how steep the slope or incline will be for your dog. Ramps are designed for both indoor and outdoor use (and some are made for both). You'll need to determine when and where the ramp will be used before shopping for one.

Quick tip: Whether you're buying dog steps or a dog ramp, be sure to purchase a model with carpeting or some type of gripping material so your dog won't slip and fall.

A ramp is usually considered tall if it is more than two feet high, while low ramps are generally about 1.5 feet high or lower. The wider the ramp, the easier it will be for your dog to balance and maneuver while climbing on it. Typical ramp widths are between 1 and 1.5 feet. Likewise, an easy slope is generally 18 degrees while a normal or medium slope rests at about 22 degrees. Climber slopes are generally 26-degree inclines and aren't used very often.

Owners with miniature dog breeds should prioritize dog ramps over dog steps.

The reason being is that very often these smaller breed dogs are too short for indoor steps and it would be considered a safety hazard if the dog needs to jump up or climb to get to the next stair. Essentially, it negates the whole purpose of pet stairs. Even a tumble from a height of 6 inches may cause a bad injury for these fragile little pups.

In general, there are five features you need to look out for when purchasing the most ideal dog ramp not only for your pooch but also for yourself and your home:

  1. Can be stored easily, anywhere. You want a ramp that won't take up much space at home or in a car when not in use. Usually, most ramps will be folding (or telescopic models), but remember to confirm if that's actually the case. You don't want to be stuck with a giant dog ramp that cannot be folded.
  2. Lightweight and small enough. Another important aspect of a good ramp for dogs is how easily you're able to handle it. Ideally, you want something that's light and small enough so that you can put it together quickly whenever you need to. Ramps don't have to be miniature, but the smaller you can get, the easier it will be for you.
  3. Sturdiness and reliability. Even though you want a ramp that's lightweight, sturdiness and strength should also be there; it's no less important for you to have confidence in the product. You can judge good ramps for pets by looking at their weight capacity. Buy the one according to your pet's weight and triple check that.
  4. Perfect surface. Many pet owners forget about the importance of grip when it comes to ramps. For those of you who are planning to use a ramp outdoors (and if you're using it with a vehicle, then that's most likely the case) – ensure a good surface where your dog won't slip when the ramp is wet.
  5. Safety precautions. Last but definitely not least is how safe your dog ramp will be. Front and rear stabilizers on ramps are the first things you must check ten times before starting to use the product actively. There are also non-skid feet that will ensure stability of the ramp. For even more safety precautions, you can choose ramps with side railings that stabilizes the ramp and prevent falls.

To give you a better idea what we're talking about, here are a few examples of dog ramps on Amazon (current top five Amazon best sellers in Pet Supplies category under Ramps/Steps at the time of this writing) that you might want to compare your own choices with and mentally walk yourself through these products based on the safety indications provided above.

Top 5 Amazon Best Sellers in Dog Ramps

  1. Solvit 62332 UltraLite Bi-Fold Pet Ramp
  2. Solvit 62337 Deluxe Telescoping Pet Ramp
  3. Mr. Herzher's Smart Ramp
  4. Pet Gear Tri-Fold Pet Ramp
  5. Solvit 62320 Deluxe XL Telescoping Pet Ramp
How to Choose Proper Dog Ramp or Stairs for Your Pet
Photo: Pet Gear / Amazon

Dog Steps or Ramps: Which Should You Choose?

Pet owners often find it difficult to make the choice between dog ramps and dog steps, and rightfully so. In general, either one will usually work for most dog related daily life activities, so it would be hard to make a terrible choice. Nonetheless, there are a few factors that can impact this decision, and we will touch upon this in our future, more extensive article where we will compare dog steps alongside dog ramps, consider pros and cons of both and draw conclusions on which dog product is a better choice for which case.

In the meantime, you can narrow down your choices by remembering that pet steps take up the least amount of space when in use and are ideal for avoiding injury, especially when your dog climbs up or down on furniture. Ramps are best suited for disabled pets or for geriatric dogs that lack strength in their rear legs, and they can take up less space when not used. Similarly, as previously mentioned, teacup or miniature-sized dogs should also use ramps for reasons of safety.

Now that you have this basic information on pet ramps and steps, you can take a look at the actual products and begin your search of proper dogs stairs and dog ramps for your pet. Once you begin perusing, you will come across a variety of features, all of which you can compare and contrast. Consider the features of each model and your dog's individual needs before making the purchase and watch out for more of our articles on this subject coming soon.


References and further reading:


Featured image courtesy of Animal Planet, originally published on their Amazon product page.