Pet stairs and ramps are just the thing when your dog is having a tough time getting around.
While pet stairs are often a great help to older dogs, they’re also a smart option for ensuring that even young pets age gracefully, as canine stairs help avoid putting any unnecessary strain on joints that might deteriorate later with arthritis.
Even your puppy could benefit from pet steps or a ramp since his still-developing body is particularly susceptible to injury.
Today we’re detailing the best pet stairs and ramps for dogs, helping your canine friend get around easier and maintaining healthy joints. But first, we will look at what factors you might want to consider when buying a pet ramp or stairs, and which is better for your situation.
Whether you decide to opt for a pet ramp or pet stairs depends largely on the needs of you and your pet.
Many owners prefer pet stairs because they take up less space; this means they can fit even in small spaces and will not be cumbersome if left out in your bedroom or living room. Stairs are, additionally, usually easier to move around.
On the other hand, ramps are often sturdier than stairs. They’re also easier on the joints of arthritic dogs and are the best option for small breeds who may struggle even with small steps.
Consider also what your pup is able to adapt to. Dogs who have only ever lived in a single story home may not take to stairs easily. Getting up and down a set of stairs is not as intuitive as it may seem and makes many dogs nervous (so I learned after painstakingly bribing my sister’s shaking hound pup with treats to come down the front steps). Still, even using a ramp may take patient training.
Whether you are buying a pet ramp or pet stairs, you will want to pay attention to the following:
For stairs, you will also want to pay special attention to the height and depth of the steps. Most pet stairs have a height between 6.5 and 7.5 centimeters.
If your dog’s legs are long, he will more easily be able to handle the taller steps. Pet stairs are also usually between 10 and 12 centimeters in depth. Remember, a nervous pup will prefer steps with greater depth.
For a ramp, you will need to decide how long of a ramp you need. Keep in mind that you want a gentle slope. An 18-degree slope is considered easy, while a 25-degree slope is already a bit difficult.
To calculate the length of ramp you need, first measure the how high the object is that you will use the ramp with. Then…
This resulting number is the length of the ramp that you will need. (For those mathematically curious, we have just multiplied the cosecant of the angle by the height of the triangle to find the hypotenuse. Who knew geometry would come in handy?)
You will also want to double-check that you have enough floor space for your ramp. Because we are working with small angles (between 18 and 25 degrees) and low heights (probably less than 2 feet), the floor space the ramp takes up with be slightly less than, but approximately the same as, the length of the ramp itself.
For example, my couch is 18 inches (or 1½ feet) off the ground. If I want to give my toy Yorkie a nice, gentle incline of 18 degrees, these are my calculations:
18 x 3.2 = 57.6
I will need a ramp that is at least 58 inches (or 4 feet 9 inches) long. I’ll also want to make sure that I have about 58 inches of free space available in front of my couch to place the ramp.
Now that you know the basics of what to look for in pet ramps and stairs, here are a few of our favorites. We recommend 5 pet stairs, 3 pet ramps, and 1 product which combine the best of both.
Description: The Solvit PupSTEPS stand out for being both sturdy and affordable. Weighing just 9 pounds, these steps are made of durable plastic that can hold up to 200 pounds.
They clear just over 2 feet, making these steps perfect for helping your pup get onto a high bed. There are 4 steps in total, each 7 inches deep, 16 inches wide, 6.25 inches tall, and covered by a thin carpet that will help your dog walk steadily up the steps.
The raised edges of the steps and the non-skid feet are a great feature, helping even nervous dogs feel secure. The back legs of the stairs fold in for easy storage.
This product is designed for medium and large dogs. If you need steps for your smaller pup, or just need something a little less tall, you could opt for the Solvit PupSTEPS Plus Pet Stairs, which stand 19.5 inches tall and are designed for a small or medium-sized dog.
Description: The Crown Pet Products Pet Steps are a bit on the expensive side, but they may be the most stylish and functional option on the market.
The steps are handcrafted from hardwood that comes in two colors: mahogany or espresso. They stand 21 inches tall with 3 steps, each 18 inches wide, 9 inches deep, and 7 inches tall.
The top of each step is carpeted to give your pup some traction, and the bottom of the piece features non-skid pads to protect the floor.
The most unique feature of these steps is that they also act as a storage space; each step has hinges along the front side, allowing the step to open.
Description: For pups who need a little extra cushion for aching joints, these competitively-priced foam steps are a great option.
Designed for animals weighing up to 25 pounds, these steps are made of super thick, supportive foam. They have a washable polyester cover that zips on and off and comes in 5 patterned colors (black, gray, navy blue, red, teal, and yellow).
You can also choose between a 3-step and 4-step version of these steps. The 3-step model is 15 inches tall, and takes up about 18 inches of floor space; each step is 16 inches wide, 5 inches tall, and 6 inches deep.
The dimensions of each step of the 4-step model are the same; however, standing at 20 inches tall, it gives you a little extra height and also takes up a little extra floor space (24 inches). At 7.4 pounds, this is also a lightweight choice.
Description: These collapsible steps are pricey, but are ideal for owners on the go with limited storage space.
There are 3 models to choose between: the 3-step, 4-step, and 5-step. The 3 step model can be adjusted to stand between 16 and 20 inches tall and weighs 18 pounds; the 4-step version weighs 24 pounds with a height ranging from 20 to 30 inches; the 5-step is 29 to 40 inches tall and weighs 30 pounds.
All models are made of heavy-duty plastic, can sustain a 150-pound dog, and have carpeted platform steps that are 16 inches wide.
While each platform is 22 inches long, the steps are not 22 inches deep; remember, the height and depth of each step will change depending on the height of the steps (see the product website for a guide). Folded down, the steps are 23 inches wide, 22 inches long, and 5.5 (3-step), 7.5 (4-step), or 9.5 (5-step) inches tall.
Description: The “Let Me Up” Pet Steps stand out for being foldable, making them able to serve as either a bed or steps for your pet. This versatility makes them a great option for an owner on a budget.
As steps, the “Let Me Up” stands at 8 inches, just high enough to give your pup a little extra boost onto furniture. There are two steps, each 15 inches wide, and the steps take up 18.5 inches of floor space.
As a bed, the “Let Me Up” is 4 inches high, 15 inches wide, and 26 inches long.
The inside is composed of foam and the exterior is made from a comfortable, breathable fabric. You can choose from a variety of colors (green, blue, black, orange, pink, deep coffee, grey, camel, and rose red).
Description: The Mr. Herzher’s Telescoping Pet Ramp is a competitively priced compared to other ramps and offers a rigid, secure frame along with Shur-Foot tread to keep pets from slipping.
Made from fiberglass and plastic, this ramp weighs just 16 pounds, but can support up to 300 pounds. The length can be adjusted from 41 to 70 inches and it is 17 inches wide, making it an especially good option for large dogs.
The ramp has raised edges and features special treading so your dog can walk comfortably. Rubber ends on either side of the ramp ensure that it will stay in place and not damage any surface that supports it.
Description: The Solvit Deluxe XL Telescoping Pet Ramp is a little more expensive, but stands out for being significantly longer and wider than other ramps on the market.
This ramp telescopes from 47 to 87 inches and is 20 inches wide. It can sustain up to 300 pounds, but weighs just 18 pounds.
You can also trust the sturdiness of this ramp since it is made of aluminum and plastic and has rubber feet to help it stay in place. It also features raised edges and a high-traction surface to help your dog feel secure as he walks up and down the ramp.
Description: The reasonably priced PetStep Folding Pet Ramp stands out for its unique ridged rubber walking surface that is suitable for use not just on land, but also in water.
It is 70 inches long, 18 inches wide, and can hold up to 500 pounds. Since it is lightweight compared to many ramps (just 18.6 pounds), easily folds in half, and has cut out handles on the sides, the ramp is very convenient to travel with.
It’s made of plastic and fiberglass, meaning it holds up in all types of weather and is very sturdy. The end of the ramp also provides great traction so that it does not slide around while your pet is on it, and the raised edges ensure that your pet will feel secure. Finally, the ramp comes with a 5-year warranty as an added bonus.
Description: The Snoozer Scalloped Pet Ramp combines some of the best features of ramps and stairs. Like stairs, it provides secure foot-holding, but, like a ramp, is creates a gentler slope for small dogs or dogs with joint pain.
This ramp is definitely not cheap, but Snoozer is a trusted brand that is well-known for using high-quality foam in their dog accessories.
The large Snoozer ramp is made of high-density polyurethane foam which supports up to 100 pounds. It’s 21 inches tall and the base is 28 inches long.
With a width of 21 inches, this ramp is also very wide, giving it extra stability and your pup extra confidence as he climbs up and down it.
The cover of the ramp is made of micro-suede and comes in 4 colors (black, buckskin, camel, and red). It can be zipped off and put through the washing machine. While we recommend the large ramp, it also comes in small and medium which may be sufficient for a smaller dog.
If none of these options suit your needs (and you’re a little handy), you may want to consider making your own ramp. That way you will be able to make something that (literally) fits your precise situation. Follow the link above to find our article on how to make a DIY Pet Ramp.
Some dogs can be nervous about using pet ramps, and it’s important to let them slowly adjust to the new ramp or steps. Here’s how you can help your dog adjust to doggy steps:
1. Start with the collapsed ramp (when applicable). Have your dog walk back and forth across the collapsed ramp on the floor, encouraging them with treats.
2. Use the dog steps or ramp with an object at a small height, like a low chair. Use treats to entice the dog to walk up and down the steps.
3. Extend the dog steps or ramp to full length and use for the height you desire. Hopefully by now your dog is used to the steps or ramp enough to not be afraid. Don’t forget to continue using treats for a while and to offer lots of praise and encouragement!
Many owners don’t realize that encouraging dogs to jump up and walk on their hind legs can have negative arthritic effects as dogs age.
It’s important to always encourage healthy joint activity, no matter what the age of your dog. This is why pet steps are a great idea, even if your dog can currently get around without them. Preventive measures pay off!
Have you ever bought pet stairs or a pet ramp? Did you choose stairs or a ramp? What do you like and dislike about the product you bought? Let us know in the comments below!
Last update on 2018-10-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Meg Marrs is the Founder and Senior Editor at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!