Are Stairs or Ramps Better for Dogs?

So, are stairs or ramps better for dogs? Ramps for dogs will reduce the risk of falling in the short-term and they significantly decrease wear and tear on joints over the long-term. For arthritic dogs with joint problems, a ramp helps reduce the impact stairs can have on sore joints.

are stairs or ramps better for dogs
Are Stairs or Ramps Better for Dogs?

Stairs and ramps both allow dogs to safely climb up to large surfaces, but deciding which product to buy for your doggie can get tricky. 

Every breed is individually unique, and every dog is a unique individual. There are important variables to take into consideration such as your dog’s size, health issues, lifestyle, and more.

For dogs riding in tall vehicles either can be beneficial as there are transportable and collapsible stairs and ramps that fit in most trunks. The only consideration is your dog’s specific needs.

For handicapped and/or post-surgery dogs a ramp is best as dogs with joint problems, dogs with healing stitches, and more fragile conditions should be spared the more taxing staircase.

A set of stairs or a ramp made specifically for your large dog is a great way to practice preventative healthcare!

Clearly, the ramp is preferable for a variety of dogs who need to use one of these aids daily. This isn’t surprising considering the fact that a ramp is the safer option for people as well. Defaulting to the safest option might be the best option.

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Related Reading: How to Make Stairs Easier for Dogs [SIMPLE STEPS]

Are Ramps Always Better Than Stairs For Dogs?

Ramps are almost always safer. If your small dog or your elderly relative could make it down a flight of steps, we would all still feel more comfortable if the ramp was taken instead.

It’s not just fear of a bad fall; it’s the promise of added strain and shock to the joints with each and every step.

When it comes to ramps for dogs, it’s important to ensure the material is non-slip, especially for conditions involving water. There are many dog ramps that come with turf-like material to help ensure safety.

Stairs might not be the right fit for dogs with sensitive joints, but they might be the right fit for a pet parent with such an ailment. Many models of stairs are lightweight and low-profile in the home. Once the stairs are purchased, they’re ready to stay or tuck away — whereas a larger ramp might require collapsing and/or heavy lifting.

The pet parents’ comfort and lifestyle have to be acknowledged as a factor, given what affects them will also affect their dog. It’s not just about the doggie (even though it sometimes seems that way), it’s about what’s best for both parties and the relationship too.

It’s true that all dogs are different, but the average pet parent would worry less if their best friend was home alone with a ramp as opposed to a staircase. While many dogs can use stairs with no problems, when it comes to loved ones, the best option is always the safest option.

Are Stairs Safe for Dogs?

Stairs can be perfectly safe for dogs who show no signs of joint-ailment, and who are large enough to eliminate falling as a serious issue. The big two to look out for with ramps and stairs are:

  • The immediate danger of falling
  • The long-term danger of developing joint problems and arthritis.

That being said, the majority of people in the market for ramps and stairs are pet parents with small dogs or dogs that have some joint issues. Stairs are safe in general, but they may not be safe for those who would need to use them.

Dogs like Dachshunds are perfectly capable of safely using stairs to reach their favourite napping locations around the house, but as they age, they may become less capable of trudging up the steps and may eventually require the switch to a ramp, or having the stairs blocked off.

It becomes a question of the short-term versus the long-term, and a reminder that the animals who need assistance generally cannot rely on stairs.

Think about it like repetitive stress injuries. Your doggie’s joints can only handle so much wear and tear over their life. If you can easily and comfortably reduce that wear and tear, it will improve their overall well-being for years to come.

Related Reading: How to Block Off Stairs for Dogs

A dog walking in the stair and a dog on the ramp
Dog walking up the stair and a dog on the ramp

Stairs and Your Dog’s Long-term Health

Not every dog that uses a ramp or stairs has a joint issue. The normal canine method of reaching the couch, the leap, has been associated with premature joint fatigue. Even if your dog doesn’t need them, upgrading to a set of stairs could do wonders for their long-term health. 

If they’re climbing not leaping up to the couch today, they’re still running their fastest tomorrow.

Does My Dog Even Need a Ramp or Stairs?

Some dogs absolutely need them, but most, if not all, could at least benefit from a ramp or a staircase. We’ve all seen our doggie take a spill while vacating a surface that seemed lower to the ground an hour ago. A ramp or a set of stairs takes some danger out of the equation and reduces wear and tear.

And it’s a danger that is completely unnecessary. Our dogs don’t always know that we keep them out of trouble but putting a few steps between the floor and the couch is a precaution that even you won’t notice.

Will It Be Difficult to Get My Dog to Use the Stairs?

If you’ve ever decided to change the brand of hard food or wet food, you know how picky your little plate-cleaner can suddenly be. 

On the other hand, adding a ramp will be met with no protestation and no feelings of guilt

There is no recovery period where you tell yourself you’re doing the right thing. You are doing the right thing; it’s just easy for once.

Can My Dog Use Stairs for the Car?

Getting into the family car can be challenging, especially if loading the family dog is the final item on the agenda. Regardless of how difficult or easy it is to pick up our pets, there is a far gentler approach, the stable doggie ramp. You can carry your children everywhere, and you can carry your dog too, but remarkable products exist that make these labors unnecessary.

What Kind of Dog Ramp Do I Need?

Ramps are made for home and for the go, but the best can be applied to any environment. There are a wide variety of different brands and sizes, and some even function as steps as well. If there was a canine equivalent to trying on a pair of shoes, it would be walking on the surface tread of a ramp.

Every dog is unique and will have their own criteria for comfort, but nothing can beat bringing the dog shopping (with your last season doggie-loading ramp), or shopping at a reputable pet shop that offers free returns. Paws are very sensitive, and the right tread could save hours.

It’s worth noting how important portability and collapsibility are when choosing a ramp. If it’s not collapsible or telescopic, you don’t want it. Scores of products are sold at very reasonable prices because they cleverly distract customers from the one thing that matters besides comfort.

dog sitting in the stair

The Benefits of Dog Ramps and Dog Stairs

Healthy dogs have been known to accrue all kinds of injuries from jumping and falling in the home. They are built to run in bursts, not hop around from one plane to another, and absorb the subsequent shock.

Dogs will become injured over the years from leaping on and off of household surfaces and may eventually require the use of a ramp. Introducing a ramp or staircase could prevent your dog from future harm.

Other completely avoidable injuries include damaged nails and paws, as well as head injuries that can be very serious. At this preventative stage, the choice between a ramp and stairs almost doesn’t matter.

Deciding between safety in the long term can be very difficult but resolving the short-term is simple. And it’s ultimately another toy to bring home that they’ll get excited about.

If you’re in the market for a ramp or stairs for your beloved pet, you might also be picking up arthritis medication from the vet and taking them to physical therapy.

Although there has been success with using stairs to train arthritic dogs, by and large, they will be safer and more comfortable walking up a well-treated ramp. Ramps are a safer, better option for our dogs.

dog stairs vs. dog ramp image - comparing the two

Final Thoughts

Every breed is individually unique, and every dog is a unique individual. There are important variables to take into consideration such as your dog’s:

  • size
  • health issues
  • lifestyle
  • age

When in doubt, opt for a safer and more comfortable option, which usually means a ramp. Just make sure the ramp you get is made from appropriate materials and uses surfaces that reduce or eliminate slipping.

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.