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Stairs Or Ramps for Dog Rehabilitation – What to Choose

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Stairs Or Ramps for Dog Rehabilitation – What to Choose

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Photo credits: IAN LO


As pet owners, we always want the best for our furry friends and more especially when they are undergoing rehabilitation. Here, the choice between using stairs or ramps for easy mobility can often be a tough nut to crack.

Both accessories have their own set of pros and cons, and it’s important to consider the best fit for your dog’s individual needs.

In this comparison guide, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits of both stairs and ramps for dog rehabilitation, as well as the factors to consider when choosing one.

Whether your dog is recovering from an injury or recuperating from surgery, or simply needs a little extra support as they age, there is always a way to make your dog comfortable.

The Benefits of Stairs for Dog Rehabilitation

1. Dog stairs are more compact and easier to store than ramps

Minimal stairs (with 2 steps) can occupy less space when in use and can be kept away easily thereafter.

A small set of dog stairs may be tiny enough to fit in a wardrobe or under the couch. This can be especially helpful for dogs that will require the stairs regularly throughout the day.

2. Comfortable for some dogs to use

Smaller dogs may find it more comfortable to put their paws on each step of the stairs rather than sliding on a ramp.

3. Strengthen your dog’s leg muscles

Climbing stairs requires more effort than using a ramp, as the dog must lift their entire body weight with each step.

This can be beneficial for dogs with weakened muscles, as it can help to strengthen their leg muscular tissue and improve their mobility.

4. They may be safer for dogs to use

Dog stairs can offer more stability and support than a ramp, which can be especially important for dogs that are prone to slipping or falling. A pup with poor balance or nervousness may feel more secure using stairs than a ramp.

The Cons of Dog Stairs

There are a few potential disadvantages to using dog stairs for dog rehabilitation:

1. Stairs may be more difficult for some dogs to use

Depending on the size and mobility of the recuperating dog, a set of steps may be more challenging for them to climb than a ramp.

A large dog with arthritis may find it difficult to navigate stairs and so you might be required to guide them as they move or opt for a ramp.

2. May not be suitable for dogs with certain injuries or conditions

Depending on the affected body part and the severity of a dog’s condition, stairs may not be the most appropriate option for their rehabilitation.

A dog with spinal trauma may not be able to use the stairs due to muscle weakness or temporary paralysis that causes mobility concerns.

Find out more about mobility problems in dogs, their causes, symptoms, and what you can do about them.

3. Stairs can be bulky

Some stairs can be huge and bulky and might not be good for houses with minimal space. You can however choose to go for the foldable stairs which are like ramps but with steps.

The Benefits of Dog Ramp

1. Dog ramps have a gentle slope than stairs.

They are beneficial for dogs with joint problems such as arthritis since they don’t require a lot of straining during movement.

The flat design also provides a clear walkway for your dog to move at their own pace without lifting their limbs too high.

2. They have safety measures

Most ramps are fitted with side rails which will prevent your recovering canine friend from sliding and falling over while moving along the ramp.

3. They are compact

Some dog ramps are more compact than stairs when not in use because they can be folded up and stored in a minimal space safely until when needed again.

4. Ramps are more suitable for dogs with serious conditions

A dog with a serious condition such as a knee injury cannot use the stairs due to the effort demanded to take the steps. Such dogs may be able to use a ramp with proper support and guidance from the caregiver.

5. Ramps may be easier for some dogs to use

Depending on the size and weight of the dog, a ramp may be easier for them to use than stairs. If you have a giant breed dog with arthritis, they will find it difficult to navigate stairs. In this case, a ramp may be more convenient for them to use.

6. Ramps may be safer for some dogs to use

Depending on the surface and slope of the ramp, it may be safer for some dogs to use than stairs. For example, a ramp with a non-slip surface and a gentle slope may be safer for a dog with poor balance than stairs.

The Cons Of Dog Ramps

1. Some ramps may not be as compact as dog stairs

Ramps typically take up more space than stairs and may be more difficult to store when not in use (the non-foldable design).

This can be especially inconvenient if you don’t have a lot of space in your home and need to use the ramp regularly during the rehabilitation process.

2. Ramps may be less comfortable

Depending on the surface and slope of the ramp, it may be less comfortable for some dogs to use than stairs.

A ramp with a rough or slippery surface may be both uncomfortable and risky for dogs to use during recovery.

3. Requires more maintenance

Regularly used ramps tend to lose their texture fast enough and might require frequent maintenance and replacements. This could turn out to be expensive in the long run.

Choosing Between Stairs and Ramps for Dog Rehabilitation

Both dog stairs and ramps can be effective mobility aids for dogs, and the decision of which one to use will depend on what makes life easier for your dog. Here are a few things to consider when choosing between stairs and ramps for your dog:

1. Consult your vet

The first and most important step is to consult with a veterinarian or a rehabilitation specialist who nursed your dog from scratch. These professionals will be able to assess your dog’s specific needs and limitations and then recommend the best accessories to make your dog feel better.

If you are looking for the best mobility aid to take your dog to the vet, check out this comparison guide on dog stairs vs ramps for cars to find out what will work for you.

2. The size and mobility of the dog

The size and mobility of the dog will play a role in determining whether stairs or a ramp is the most appropriate option. A dog with joint problems will find it more comfortable to use a ramp, while a small dog with good mobility may have no problem jumping up and down the stairs.

3. The severity of your dog’s condition

The location and severity of the dog’s injury or condition will also be a factor in determining the most appropriate option. If your furry friend is recovering from a major accident, then a set of stairs might be too demanding for them. In this case, a lowly inclined ramp will help them out.

Stairs Or Ramps for Dog Rehabilitation – What to Choose
Photo credits: RODNAE Productions

Photo credits: RODNAE Productions

4. Your home’s layout

You should think through the layout of your home and the places you want your canine companion to access using mobility aids.

If your dog needs to access a patio or yard through a sliding glass door, then a ramp may be a more convenient option than stairs.

If you want them to access your bed, then a set of stairs with 2 steps can be a good option.

5. The goals of the rehabilitation program

You need to consider what your end goals of the therapy program are. Stairs will be more suitable for strengthening a dog’s limbs’ muscular tissue and providing much-needed exercises during this time. Ramps on the other hand can be effective in providing your recovering dog with a clear walkway to access many places within the house.

Introducing Your Dog to Stairs or Ramps

Once you’ve decided to use either stairs or ramps for your dog’s mobility, it’s important to introduce them slowly and carefully. Here are some tips for safely introducing your dog to either option:

1. Start with a shorter height

If you’re using stairs, start with a shorter flight of stairs and gradually increase the distance. If you’re using a ramp, start with a shorter ramp and gradually increase the height.

Starting small will give your dog a sense of confidence especially if they don’t like elevated places. You can do this by placing the stairs for your dog to move to your bed without taking that risky jump.

2. Use a leash

It’s always a good idea to use a good leash when moving your dog up the stairs or ramp, especially if they are still in the early stages of the introduction, or when you are moving them into a vehicle’s trunk. This can help to keep your furry friend safe and avoid any accidents.

3. Use positive reinforcement

You can encourage your dog to use the stairs or ramp by giving them their favorite easy-to-chew treats with lots of praise. Your dog will associate good use of the aid with pleasure and they will be more than happy to always want to make you proud. Encouraging your furry friend can also help to build their confidence and make the experience more enjoyable.

4. Have patience

You should always be patient with your dog as they learn to use these mobility aids. Some pups may take to them right away, while others may require more training and guidance.

Never rush your canine friend into moving at your pace. Sometimes even a very small elevation could be scary for them.

The Verdict

Choosing between stairs or ramps for dog rehabilitation can be a difficult decision to make. Both options have their own benefits and hitches, and the most appropriate choice will depend on the individual needs of the dog and what will aid their quick recovery.

It’s important to consult with a veterinarian or a rehabilitation specialist to determine what will work best for you and your dog.

Regardless of your choice, you should ensure that your dog has a safe and comfortable way to move around during their therapy period.

By taking the time to consider your options and working with a professional, you can help your dog make a full recovery and regain their mobility.


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