The Best Dog RampsJanuary 16, 2022 2022-01-18 15:14
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Everyone with a dog dreams of cuddling with them on the couch. Well, maybe everyone with a smaller dog, at least.
Disappointingly, many small dogs are too little to jump up onto the couch with us and cuddle.
This isn’t a huge problem until we realize just how tiring it is to help smaller dogs onto the couch over and over and over again.
Even if your canine can make it onto the couch by themselves, this is often not recommended. Jumping onto high objects and trigger back and hip problems in many dogs, especially as they get older.
Some breeds are more prone to these problems, like Dachshunds. But your vet will likely recommend that all smaller dogs be provided with an easier way to access high furniture like your couch and bed.
Even larger dogs might need some help accessing taller places, like the car. Many larger breeders are prone to hip dysplasia, especially as they get older.
Luckily, there is a device that is specifically made to help in these situations – dog ramps. To find the best ramp for your canine, keep reading below.
Our Best Dog Ramp
Out of all the ramps out there, the Pet Gear Easy Step is the most space-saving. It features a unique L-shaped design that wraps around furniture, providing easy access to beds, couches, and wherever else your dog likes to cuddle.
The stairs are entirely adjustable. Change their layout to wrap either to the left or right as needed.
Each step is quite deep but only five inches tall. Your pet will have no problem keeping its footing while climbing. But the slight difference between each step makes them accessible for even the smallest dogs.
Rubber grips keep the steps from moving around as your pet plays. You don’t have to worry about your puppy running up the stairs, slipping, and then face-planting.
Though we aren’t entirely sure what it is made to store, a small compartment is hidden underneath the back panel. It may be useful for that remote you always keep losing or a dog toy or two.
For most small dogs, you won’t find a more accessible set of steps.
Though, we don’t recommend these for larger canines. If you have a senior dog getting a bit stiff in its advanced age, this is not the option for you.
If you need something a bit more specialized – like a ramp to get into the car – keep reading.
Table of Contents
Mini-Reviews for Dog Ramps
Looking for something a bit more specific? Check out our reviews below for some specialized choices.
Best for Small Spaces
For those living in apartments and other small spaces, you probably don’t have the room to leave a massive ramp up all the time. Luckily, there is a whole host of ramps designed to be put away when not in use.
The Arf Pets Foldable Dog & Cat Stairs happens to be one of these ramps.
It has a quick, foldable design that can be put up and taken down in a matter of seconds. Slide it underneath your bed or couch when not in use.
The five levels of steps provide a gradual elevation increase – perfect for pets with limited mobility. The height is fully adjustable, allowing you to use it against just about any piece of furniture.
Safety rails provide some extra security, though we don’t think they’ll do much to help your pup stay on the stair. If you have a dog that is a bit unsure of ramps, the safety rails may provide the security they need to give it a try.
A durable fabric lines each step to prevent slippage. It provides far more grip than bare plastic – something fundamental when your dog is already having trouble getting around. The extra grip may also help dogs climb the stairs with a bit more confidence.
Best for Car Access
Larger pets may not need help getting up on the couch, but they may need help getting into the car. Senior dogs just can’t make that jump sometimes!
The plastic and fiberglass design allow this ramp to be highly durable but also lightweight. After all, you don’t want to have to set up a heavy ramp every time you want to get your pet in the car. We aren’t trying to give you mobility problems too.
The whole top is covered with a rubber surface for extra grip and traction. It even works in the rain and less-than-stellar weather conditions.
Setting it up is fast and easy. All you need to do is unfold it. Two non-slip rubber grips help the ramp stay in place while in use.
Best Step-Free Ramp
Some pets just can’t do steps at all. Their hips may hurt, or they just could not have the mobility they once did. Tiny Dachshunds often can’t use some of the step-based ramps, either. They’re just too tiny!
This ramp by pet gear is a proper ramp. It has no steps – just a gentle incline.
A rubber bottom prevents it from slipping around everywhere. The carpet mat on top is removable and can be thrown straight into the washer. You won’t have to worry about the ramp getting dingy and smelly.
An extra-wide surface provides your pet with plenty of room. Your dog likely won’t step off the side because the sides are so far apart.
Put the whole ramp together by snapping together the pieces. No tools are required, and the assembly is exceptionally straightforward.
Best Foam Dog Steps
Foam steps are more comfortable than those made of plastic or wood. The little bit of squish is reassuring to some dogs, though others hate it. It can feel very insecure, after all. Just imagine trying to walk on foam.
The foam design does make them lightweight and portable. Move this product from the bed to the couch with ease. Don’t worry about re-setting it up every time you use it.
There are three sizes available. Get the size that matches the furniture your dog needs to scale – not the size of your dog. The small size is designed to reach up to 13.5”, while the large reaches 22.5”.
Each increasing size does include more steps. So, your pet still shouldn’t have any trouble using the largest size. For instance, the smallest size has three steps. The enormous size has five.
The corduroy is very aesthetically pleasing. It looks better than many other designs – though you will need to take your preferences into account.
The base is entirely anti-slip. Your dog can take the stairs with a running start without a problem. You won’t have to worry about continuously readjusting the steps either, which is just as annoying as helping your dog up on the couch every five minutes.
A Buyer’s Guide to the Best Dog Ramps
Not all dog ramps are the same. Some are easy for your pet to climb and use. Others? Not so much. Some slip and slide. Others don’t reach high enough to reach any piece of normal-sized furniture.
However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer either. The best dog ramp can vary from dog to dog.
Below, we’ll guide you to choosing the best dog ramp for your canine. Your choice will depend heavily on your dog’s particular needs. After all, a 20-pound dog is going to need a much different ramp from an 80-pound dog.
Are stairs or a ramp better for dogs?
Stairs are best for dogs with a decent amount of mobility, while ramps are best for canines with joint problems. Stairs usually take up less space than a ramp, so consider your space as well. For the most part, there isn’t a massive difference in practicality.
Most dogs can use both a ramp and stairs with equal success. There is no reason that a dog shouldn’t be able to use a ramp. Most dogs can also use stairs, though some with severe joint problems may have issues bending their legs in that manner.
The size of steps also matters. Giant steps are more complex for dogs to use, while small steps shouldn’t be significantly more difficult than a ramp.
Are dog ramps any good?
Just like with every commercial product, some are higher-quality than others. They are handy for dogs with mobility problems.
This category includes older canines with arthritis, hip dysplasia, and similar problems. Sometimes, it is recommended that breeds prone to hip dysplasia and other joint problems use a ramp – even if they aren’t currently having problems. High-impact jumping can wear their joints down faster, causing problems in their senior years.
Dogs with long backs like Dachshunds and Beagles should also use a ramp. Jumping from high places can cause Intervertebral Disc Disease, which can lead to paralysis.
Many small dogs will require ramps to reach furniture. If you want your Shih Tzu puppy to cuddle with you on the couch, a ramp will be necessary.
You can simply pick your puppy up for every cuddle session, but this can get very tiring quickly – especially if your puppy tends to get up and down a lot.
What to Look for In a Dog Ramp or Stairs
Not all dog ramps are made for the same purpose.
Some heavy-duty ramps are designed for use with cars. You don’t want to use a car ramp inside your house. Not only would it be way too big, but it probably wouldn’t attach to your furniture correctly.
Some ramps are made for smaller dogs. Foam-style ramps often fit in this category. Foam isn’t going to be able to hold as much weight as wood or plastic.
Folding ramps are great when you only need to use them occasionally. If your dog doesn’t sit on the couch all that much, a folding ramp may be the most practical option. But you probably aren’t going to store the ramp if your dog uses it every thirty minutes.
Length and Width
The larger your dog, the bigger the ramp’s width needs to be. Otherwise, their feet won’t exactly fit, and they’ll be at a higher risk of falling off.
Length is a bit more complicated. If the ramp is too long, it probably won’t fit in your house. But, if it’s too short, your dog may have a hard time climbing it.
Theoretically, an extremely long ramp would be the easiest for your dog to climb. However, it probably wouldn’t work in most homes. Choosing the correct ramp length requires some give-and-take.
Generally, we recommend first figuring out how tall you need the ramp to be. Measure your furniture from the floor to the top. The ramp you choose should come pretty close to this measurement. You don’t want it too short or too tall.
Next, you’ll need to consider the mobility of your dog.
Puppies can run up most inclines without an issue. If you’re getting a ramp because your puppy is too small to jump onto a couch, you’re likely fine getting a shorter option.
However, dogs with joint and back problems probably can’t scale a steep ramp. They’ll need to longer, gentler option.
Some ramps are adjustable, allowing you to use them around the house. If your dog needs help getting onto many different pieces of furniture, consider getting an adjustable ramp – instead of purchasing a different ramp for every room.
Dogs with mobility problems often have difficulty staying upright on slippery surfaces. Arthritis can severely affect a dog’s ability to walk on hardwood, for instance.
Carpeted and non-slip surfaces are a must for these dogs. You can’t expect them to scale a ramp made of plastic with any success. The last thing you want is for them to fall and hurt themselves! Many won’t even try to climb if the surface appears slippery.
Gritted tops provide the best traction. Rubber and carpet are also good, though it can depend on the exact type of carpet. Short carpets aren’t going to provide massive amounts of traction.
Even if your dog doesn’t have mobility issues, the grip is crucial. You don’t want your puppy trying to run up a ramp only to slip and fall. If you’re getting a ramp, likely, your dog is already prone to back and joint injuries. Let’s not press fate by giving them an unsafe ramp.
Ramps are made from a variety of materials – including foam, wood, and plastic.
Compressed fiberboard is extremely common, as it is cheap and effective. It is used in many different types of pet furniture.
Foam can be helpful for smaller dogs. But larger dogs tend to squish it down a bit too much. It is hard to get much traction when the surface is constantly giving away under you. On a better note, injury is less likely if your dog trips and falls.
They’re landing on foam, after all!
Plastic seems to be an all-around practical choice. It provides enough stability and support for heavier dogs – without costing a fortune.
Sometimes, ramps are made of metal or aluminum. These materials are most common for car ramps, as their durability isn’t needed indoors.
You don’t want to use a wood ramp outside, as it will rot from the moisture and rain. Foam will fall apart, and plastic usually isn’t durable enough. Some sort of durable material is required for car ramps.
Many dogs will move the ramp around while using it. Puppies will get a running start. Older dogs may slide it around with unsteady steps.
Continuously readjusting the ramp to the correct spot can be tiresome. You don’t want to have to fix the ramp every time your canine uses it. That just isn’t practical.
Plus, a slippery ramp can cause injuries. If it jerks the second your puppy jumps on it, they may end up missing the couch altogether.
Non-slip bottoms are necessary for this reason. You don’t want to deal with your dog getting injured or refusing to use the ramp altogether.
Many ramps have some sort of non-slip coating on the bottom. The quality varies considerably, though. Some simply have small rubber dots on the bottom, which don’t do much. Preferably, you want a heavily textured bottom that will grip the floor with ease.
Some ramps are easy to wipe down. Plastic ramps with gritty tops can usually be cleaned with mild soap and water. Any soap you use should be pet safe.
Many carpeted ramps are more challenging to clean, though. Some have removable tops that can be thrown into the washer. As long as you have a washing machine, these ramps are easy to clean.
The trouble comes with ramps without removable covers. You’re stuck with whatever mess ends up on the ramp. You can attempt to scrub the outside. But, let’s be honest, who wants to do that?
Some ramp materials also soak up messes. Look at foam, for instance. If your dog has an accident on a foam ramp, the foam will suck up the urine. You are never getting that out – ever.
Unless you want to purchase a new ramp every time it gets dirty, you should choose one pretty easy to clean off.
If you have a puppy, you may be using the ramp all the time. Most senior dogs will also require constant use of a ramp – assuming they’re insistent on cuddling on the couch.
In other situations, you may only need to ramp occasionally. Dogs who have recently undergone surgery probably won’t be jumping onto the bed anytime soon. Or perhaps your dog only occasionally wants to sleep on the bed with you.
Either way, you won’t need the ramp constantly in these cases. Ramps can take up quite a bit of room. If your dog isn’t using it, it makes little sense to leave the ramp up.
Some ramps are designed to fold down easily. You can fold down these ramps and push them under your bed or couch – out of the way until your dog needs their assistance again.
What Dogs Need a Dog Ramp?
Your dog may need a ramp for a variety of reasons. We’re discussing a few of these reasons below.
Very tiny puppies can’t jump up on most pieces of furniture. Unless your couch is only six inches tall, they likely won’t be making that jump.
You can decide to pick your puppy up every time they need a lift. However, this can get tiring very quickly. Most puppies are constantly up and down and up and down. You may be picking them up every few minutes!
Many owners appreciate a ramp in these instances. Plus, leaving the ramp up allows your pup to cuddle on the couch even when you aren’t there. Without the ramp, the puppy will be out of luck when you aren’t home.
Breeds Prone to Back and Joint Problems
There are several breeds prone to back and hip problems. The constant jumping that often comes with cuddling on your bed can make these issues more apparent.
For example, dogs with longer backs like the Dachshund and Shih Tzu are prone to IVDD – a severe back condition that can lead to paralysis.
Jumping can lead to IVDD. You do not want your Dachshund jumping up and down off the couch. Sudden shocks of jumping off things tend to cause the most problems. It isn’t so much that your dog needs help onto the couch; they just don’t need to be jumping off.
With that said, regular use of stairs seemed to decrease the risk of IVDD.
Other breeds may be prone to hip dysplasia and similar problems.
There isn’t any evidence that dog ramps decrease the chance of hip and elbow problems. However, hip dysplasia tends to affect very young dogs. It typically develops while dogs are growing as puppies, though many dogs won’t show symptoms until closer to three or four years old.
Hip dysplasia causes arthritis-like symptoms, which usually means that your dog won’t be jumping. Ramps can help these dogs avoid the pain that comes along with their diagnosis.
Just like people – senior dogs tend to slow down in their advanced years. Some may develop arthritis or similar problems. It isn’t odd for them to lose some of their coordination as well.
Ramps and stairs can help these canines reach places they just can’t anymore.
If your dog has always slept on the couch, you don’t want to take that away from them just because they got old.
The Bottom Line
Whether you have an overexcited puppy or an unhurried senior, a dog ramp may be in your future. Even active and healthy dogs may need help getting in and out of the car – which a car ramp can make much more accessible.
There is no one best ramp out there, though. Where the ramp needs to be used matters.
A 15” ramp may be great for lifting your puppy to the bed but isn’t going to help a full-grown Labrador into the back of a truck. No one ramp can do it all!
Your dog’s needs must be considered too. Senior dogs often have a hard time with coordination, especially as they get older. A ramp with exceptional grip is vital. You don’t want your dog to take a tumble.
In our reviews, we’ve included ramps of all sorts. The Arf Pets Foldable Dog & Cat Stairs is perfect for occasional use indoors, while the PetSTEP Folding Pet Ramp works best for stairs.
For many dog owners, the Pet Gear Easy Step Cat & Dog Stairs. It is space-saving but doesn’t need to be regularly set up and taken back down – like a folding ramp.
In some cases, you may even need to buy multiple ramps for different purposes. Keep your dog’s needs in mind, and you should be able to choose the best ramp with ease.