Many dogs love to swim (mine swims circular laps while barking at the splashing water).
It’s rarely difficult for dogs to enter or exit the water when hanging out at the beach, but getting into and out of pools, boats and similar tanks can be both difficult and dangerous.
Fortunately, several ramps, stairs and platforms are available that can help alleviate these problems.
Reasons for Using Dog Boat Ramps and Stairs
Ramps and stairs are not always necessary in the strictest sense. Some dogs are adept at shimmying up onto the deck after taking a dip, and small dogs are often easy to lift out of the water manually. However, ramps and stairs are almost always a wise addition to your pool or boat.
Some of the most important reasons include:
- Ramps, stairs and platforms give your dog an easier way to get into and out of the water, which will make them more likely to enjoy swimming time. Swimming time is a great exercise for dogs (particularly for pups that have joint or mobility issues), and it provides a great deal of joy to some dogs.
- Ramps, stairs and platforms provide a “lifeline” for dogs that accidentally fall in a pool. This will help ensure your dog can exit the pool when you aren’t even around. This is especially important for poor-swimming breeds, like bulldogs and pugs. We also suggest suiting your four-legged pal up with a dog life jacket and/or a dog pool float for nautical and water-based activity for added safety.
- By providing your dog with an easy way to get into and out of the water, you’ll save yourself some bumps and bruises. You’ll no longer have to wrestle with your wet and wiggling dog when swimming time is over – you can just instruct her to get out on her own.
- Although some dogs are skilled at exiting pools or climbing back into boats, they can become injured when doing so. It just makes good sense to provide them with a safe way to access the water.
Considerations for Stairs and Ramps Used Near the Water
There are a dizzying number of dog ramps and stairs on the market, but most of these are designed to allow your dog to access a bed or sofa (we actually have a list of the best dog ramps and stairs for older or less-mobile pets here). While a handful of these products may be useful in aquatic applications, most are not appropriate for this kind of use.
There are a handful of things you should consider when selecting a tool to help your pet. Some of the most important are listed below.
Does It Have a Waterproof Finish?
Obviously, anything you’ll use around the pool or at the lake must resist water damage to last a reasonable length of time. But there are varying degrees of water resistance.
For example, you could leave a dog poo ramp made from ABS plastic or aluminum in the water for a month without harming it. But some ramps are made from pressboard which has been coated with a waterproof paint or coating. While this will protect the ramp for a while, a breach in this protective layer will quickly allow the pressboard to absorb a ton of water and rot.
Does It Have a Non-Slip Surface?
Your dog will usually be sopping, dripping wet when she tries to climb out of the water, so you must ensure that she can get a good grip to keep from slipping and injuring herself. Some dog boat ramps and pool stairs do this via a textured surface, while others do it by incorporating gaps or ridges in the platform.
Does It Have Smooth Edges?
Your dog will often be flailing about a good bit while first learning to use a ramp or set of stairs, so you’ll want to be sure that all of the edges (and other exposed surfaces) are smooth and unlikely to cause an injury. Most dog boat/pool ramps and stairs are designed to be safe, but some still have troublingly sharp edges. You may be able to sand down rough surfaces, but just try to avoid the hassle in the first place.
Is It Easy to Install?
Some systems are designed to be portable and easy to set up, use and pack up. But others are designed to be (essentially) permanent. Some of the dog pool ramps and stairs are intended for long-term use require rather elaborate efforts to install. You may need to drill holes in cement, for example, to install some of these systems in in-ground pools.
Is It Easy to Transport?
You probably won’t have to move a pool ramp very often, but you’ll want to be able to move dog boat ramps around for a variety of reasons. You may even want to use the ramp in multiple different locations. In such cases, it behooves you to select one that is light and folds up.
5 Best Dog Pool and Boat Ramps
The following five products should give you a viable solution to whatever situation you need. Just be sure that they will work with your pool or boat before making your selection.
1. Paws Aboard Dog Pool Steps
About: The Paws Aboard Dog Pool Steps provides your pup with three easy steps (including the deck of your in-ground pool) to help her enter or exit the water. Once installed, the first step sits about 14.5” underwater, while the second step sits about 8.5” deep.
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- 150-pound capacity ensures it will work for all but the largest dogs
- Comes full assembled
- Made from UV-stable, chlorine-resistant ABS plastic
- Comes with drill bit required for boring installation holes
PROS: Made of highly-durable materials, Paws Aboard Steps are a long-term solution for those who have either an in-ground or aboveground pool. According to the manufacturer, the installation procedure will not harm vinyl pool liners.
CONS: Although Paws Aboard Pool Steps require a significant amount of effort to install, they are easy to remove and store once installed, thanks to two locking pins.
Dimensions: 21″ high x 28″ deep
2. Skamper Ramp Super Skamper Ramp
About: The Super Skamper Ramp provides your pet with an easy and convenient way to get out of your in-ground pool. The Super Skamper dog pool ramp attaches to the deck via two included ropes, while the other end floats on the surface until your dog needs it. The manufacturer cautions against installing the ramp in vinyl-sided pools.
- SCAMPER RAMP: This pet ramp for small dogs helps pups enter & exit the pool, especially if they fall...
- RAMP FOR THE POOL: The UV-resistant pet ramp for dogs include ramp, nylon rope, nuts, bolts, wing...
- PET SAFETY: Keep pets safe while enjoying the outdoors with a variety of steel & braided tie-out...
- GAMMA2 PET SAFETY: Gamma2 provides the Scamper Ramp to keep your small, large & medium dogs safe...
- Made from UV-stable, box corrugated polypropylene plastic
- Very light weight (the regular model weighs about 5 pounds, large model weighs about 6 pounds)
- Circular holes in the ramp provide traction for your dog
PROS: Most owners rated this dog pool ramp fairly well and found that it generally served their purposes. Great option for owners of smaller breeds – several owners remarked that their small breed dog negotiated the obstacle easily, even while wearing a life jacket.
CONS: Several owners complained that this pet pool ramp wouldn’t support large dogs, and a few others found the surface to lack sufficient traction. Grip tape or other texturized products may provide a solution for this problem.
- 27 x 6 x 14 inches
- 27 x 3 x 14 inches
3. Great Day LP500 Pet-Loading Platform
About: The Great Day Pet-Loading Platform provides your dog with a quick, easy and safe way to get into and out of your boat. It works with any boat that has a boarding ladder, and folds flat for storage when not in use. The Great Day Platform installs in seconds: Simply hook the platform to your boat’s boarding ladder and you are ready to go!
- With The Load-A-Pup, You And Your Dog Can Enjoy All The Fun Associated With Recreational Boating
- Simply Hook The Load-A-Pup To Your Boat's Boarding Ladder And You Are Ready For Action. Your Dog Can...
- The Load-A-Pup Platform Is Constructed Of Light-Weight, Aircraft Aluminum And Includes Gripping...
- Fits Any Boat That Has A Boarding Ladder
- Aircraft aluminum construction ensures years of trouble-free use
- Gripping ridges provide your dog with enough traction to get back in the boat easily
- Lightweight design (the platform and hardware weigh about 8 pounds) makes transportation and storage easy
- Made in the USA
PROS: Most users found that the Great Day dog boat ramp provided their dog with an easy way to get into and out of the water. The manufacturer does not publish a recommended weight limit, but several owners reported that it worked with dogs weighing 90 pounds or more.
CONS: Some owners remarked that the platform was not large enough for big dogs to use easily. Additionally, some customers reported that the bracket did not fit their boat’s ladder very well.
14” x 20” (platform)
4. Solvit Ultralight Bi-Fold Pet Ramp
About: The Solvit Pet Ramp is a no-frills, standalone dog ramp that is not explicitly designed for aquatic applications. However, in some circumstances, this type of ramp may provide your dog with a way to enter or exit the water. It could also be useful for allowing your pet to climb from the ground to the top of an aboveground pool.
- CONTINUE ADVENTURES TOGETHER: Use the folding ramp to help your best friend get in and out of your...
- SAFETY TESTED & DURABLE: This strong ramp is independently tested and rated to support pets up to...
- LIGHTWEIGHT: Weighs only 10 pounds so the ramp is easy to carry and lift in and out of the car...
- NO SLIPPING: High traction surface and side rails keep your furry friend from slipping or falling...
- High-traction surface allows your dog to walk up and down the ramp with confidence and ease
- Lightest full size ramp on the market – weighs only 10 pounds
- Supports dogs up to 150 pounds in weight
- Features four rubber feet for stability
PROS: Most owners are pretty happy with the Solvit Ultralight Bi-Fold Ramp. Although not designed for use in the water, several owners report using the ramp in inclement weather for years without any problems.
CONS: You’ll have to use harness your creativity and inner engineering skills to repurpose this ramp for use in the water. It is important to keep your dog’s safety at the forefront of your mind when using the ramp in an “off-label” manner.
32” x 16” x 8”
5. Petstep Folding Pet Ramp
About: The Petstep Folding Pet Ramp is not specifically designed for pool or boat use, but you may have success repurposing it for these types of applications. As its name suggests, the Petstep is a folding ramp, which is easy to set up and store as need be.
- Unique soft non-slip rubberized walking surface. Superior Traction in wet or dry conditions. No...
- Universal non-slip grip fits all vehicles and edges
- Folds in half for easy storage and portability (molded ergonomic handles on both sides)- opens and...
- Advanced composite plastic construction holds up to 500 lbs (animal use only)
- Composite-plastic construction provides extreme durability
- Rubberized walking surface provides great traction for your dog
- Weighs 22 pounds
- Available in both khaki and black
PROS: Most owners report that their dogs use the ramp eagerly and confidently, thanks to its stability and textured surface. Very sturdy design; according to the manufacturer, it supports up to 500 pounds. The ramp comes with a 5-year warranty from the manufacturer.
CONS: No tools are necessary for typical use, but when trying to re-engineer the ramp for use in your pool or on your boat, you may need to add anchors or other points of attachment.
70 L x 17 W x 2.5 H
Do you provide your dog boat ramp or pool steps to help her get in and out of the water? What kinds of lessons have you learned in the process? Have you found a great solution we haven’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below.