If your pet is getting up in years, disabled--or just too darn little--there is no reason she still can't kick back on the couch or bed--or hop into the SUV-Enter: pet ramps and steps! The only problem is: the variety can make your head spin. Here are some ways to help narrow your decision.
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Decide if you will need a ramp or steps. If it's to climb up onto a couch or bed, then steps may better serve the purpose, but if it's to get into a car, you'll probably want to go with a ramp. However, if it's a bigger dog with muscle or joint problems like hip dysplasia or arthritis, a ramp will usually work better.
Figure out how many steps you will need. A smaller pet will normally need more steps than a bigger pet. Pet stairs usually range from two to eight steps, depending on the size and brand. There are some brands that also give you a choice of step depth. If you have stairs in your home, a good idea may be to watch your pet try to climb up. If he has trouble, then you will want less spacing between them, but if he does OK, look for similar-spaced steps.
Determine how high the steps will need to reach by measuring from the floor to the top of the couch, bed or wherever your pet needs to get to, and keep that in mind when you shop. If you are purchasing a ramp for use with your vehicle, measure the distance between the floor of your vehicle and the ground. Make sure there is at least a 2-foot-incline away from your vehicle and choose a ramp that won't create too steep of an incline for your pet. Many ramps are height adjustable, such as hinged or telescoping pet ramps, or have an extension for larger dogs, such as the indoor PawSteps ramp (see Resources below).
Choose the type of steps or ramp. Go with collapsible stairs if you want something that can be easily folded and stored. There are lightweight pet ramps made of plastic or foam for your home and collapsible vehicle ramps to fit easily in your car.
Pick a finish. If you have wood floors and want the steps to match, consider wood-finished steps with rubber on the bottom to protect your floor. These can be carpeted or covered in anti-slip material. There is a variety of furniture ramps/steps to match or compliment your decor or carpet-covered steps that can match your carpet, and also wood-finished ramps with carpeted walkways.
Tips and warnings
- In-home pet ramps are sometimes supported by a wedge so there is no void space between the ramp and the ground.
- Ramps and steps prevent further injury that can result from lifting a pet.
- The packaging will often have size recommendations for specific dog breeds or pet sizes. For example: large steps for big dogs, medium steps for medium dogs and cats and small steps for small dogs and cats.
- Most pet steps/ramps have no assembly required.
- There are also water ramps/stairs to help your pet enter and exit a pool safely and prevent drowning.
- Most steps/ramps have weight limits, which you should take into consideration when making a selection.
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