Why-You-Really-Need-Pet-Stairs

Why You Really Need Pet Stairs

why you really need pet stairs

By the end of this article, probably even before, you are going to know why you really need pet stairs.

Sharing my life with a senior dog means I’m always on the lookout for products that will make her life, and mine, easier. Mobility aids, which include pet stairs, are incredible products that have a big impact on the quality of life of pets and their parents, which is why they feature so prominently on my site. My focus is, naturally, on how they help senior dogs, but I feel it’s important to call attention to how much they help dogs of all ages. BONUS TIME – they benefit the pet parents as well!

Zinus 3 step foam pet stairs

Are they really necessary?

A luxury? An unnecessary expense? I suppose those who aren’t familiar with pet stairs, or pets, may say that. I say not true, they absolutely are a necessity and I’m sure you’ll soon feel the same way.

What are pet stairs?

As the name suggests, they are stairs specifically for pet use. When jumping has become a problem, or an impossible feat, pet stairs are the answer. But that’s not the only time!

Here are the benefits of pet stairs

For your dog

  • Freedom – your dog no longer has to rely on you to get on and off whatever piece of furniture he has his eye on
  • Your dog is too small to get onto the couch, chair or their bed (oops I meant your bed!) under his own steam
  • Your bed may be too high for even the most agile dog to jump on and off of
  • Your senior dog isn’t able to jump like he used to
  • Arthritis or other joint problems have grounded them, but they still want the comfort of your furniture
  • Reduces wear and tear on joints in dogs of all ages
  • Your dog can get in and out of the car unaided
  • He has the freedom to go where he wants without waiting for you to help him
  • Some pet stairs are made specifically for use on boats

pet stairs for use on boats

For you

What, you didn’t realise how much this product can help you as well! Let me backtrack for a moment. Obviously anything that helps your pet helps you, but let’s talk specifics here.

  • If you have mobility issues it can be difficult to keep bending down to pick up your dog, now you won’t have to
  • You may have a medium or larger breed dog that is too heavy to lift without help, and help isn’t always around
  • You’re settled in your favourite chair and your dog starts barking at you because he wants to get on the couch for the 8th time. Get some stairs so you don’t have to move  
  • Your dog is a bit chubby (I’m sure he’s on a weight loss program right?) and he’s too darn heavy to pick up
  • It can be a matter of safety for an elderly pet parent who tries to pick up their dog



Why you really need pet stairs – conclusion

I strongly believe any product that makes our pets’ lives easier, makes our lives easier as well. I consider that a necessity, which is why I’m writing more about them. I have experienced, first hand, how much mobility aids have improved the lives of my animals, and pet stairs are no exception.

I hope you have found this an interesting read, and you now see how beneficial pet stairs can be…for everyone.

Have you used pet stairs? What would you say has been the biggest difference/improvement in your lives? Sharing helps others so please leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. If you’d like to submit a picture of your dog using his pet stairs, I’d be happy to publish it on my FB page.

dog mobility aids

Mobility Aids For Dogs

dog mobility aids

In this post I would like to talk about dog mobility aids – what they are, how much they have helped us, and what they can do for you.  

What are dog mobility aids?

As the name suggests, they are items or products that help your dog get around. A pet stroller, dog ramp, pet stairs and slings are just some of what we will be talking about in this post. We’re also going to look at other options that may help including: hydrotherapy, acupuncture, supplements and medications. 

Who can mobility aids help?

Dogs…

  • suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia or joint pain of any kind
  • recovering from surgery or injury and have to take it easy
  • finding it harder to climb/jump for any number of reasons

Humans…

  • who are having trouble or are simply unable to lift their dog  
  • who would like to involve their dogs in more of their family activities

Is your dog…

  • Staying in his bed longer?
  • Having trouble getting out of his bed?
  • Lying down really slowly?
  • Going for shorter walks, or doesn’t want to walk at all?
  • Not as interested in playing?
  • Unable to climb or jump onto the couch or bed like he used to


First things first

Many people assume changes in behaviour are a natural part of the aging process, and ignore them. If you have noticed any changes, no matter how slight or subtle they may be, I highly recommend you make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible. Catching a condition early increases the chances of a positive outcome.  

The pet stroller

Red touring Spain in her dog stroller

The pet stroller is the one item that has been the biggest help, in ways almost too numerous to mention. Let me say that they aren’t only perfect for senior dogs, there are so many situations where a dog stroller will come in handy for dogs of all ages. 

Read this ⇒ 21 Reasons to Buy a Pet Stroller

The reason I decided to buy a dog stroller is because of a favourite vet. We moved, and without a car getting to him had become quite an ordeal…or adventure if you want to put a positive spin on it!! Anyway, my dog weighs about 9 lbs, but 5 minutes of carrying her and she feels more like 50. She is able to walk but very slowly and not too far, so when I needed a break I would let her walk. The worst part was the overpass that took 20 minutes to cross, and was too hectic for Red to walk on, and that was the backbreaking part. Hence the stroller!

When I want to join my husband and other dog Jack for a walk to the beach on a beautiful day, I don’t have to leave Red behind, I pop her in the stroller and off we go. If it’s hot and Jack has worn himself out running, I put him in there so he can hitch a ride home until he re-charges! 

Jack was paralysed

One day in August 2016 Jack suddenly lost the use of his back legs. A very long story short – our dog stroller was a lifesaver when it came to bringing him to and from hospital and vet appointments. Confined to a cage for weeks with limited time allowed outside, the stroller became invaluable in fighting boredom and depression that was a real concern. After his 5 minute walk time was up, I would put him in the dog stroller and walk around the neighbourhood. This allowed him to see his 2 and 4 legged friends, and give him much needed breaks from the crate. As he improved and was able to walk with the support of a sling (I will talk about that next), I would bring the stroller with us and when his allotted walk time was up, back in the stroller he went.

Whether you have a senior dog who can’t walk as far as he used to, a dog recovering from illness or surgery, or you want to keep your dog safe in crowds, you can’t find anything better than a pet stroller. Many people use them for cats as well! 

Dog support sling


The sling is another mobility aid you will find useful if your dog is having trouble walking for whatever reason.

When Jack was recovering from spinal surgery a sling was essential to help him walk. At the beginning it was because he was unable to move his back legs, but even as he started to regain movement he needed the support it provided. 

You will see in the video our sling was homemade. Because Jack is a small dog weighing around 9 or 10 lbs, the neurologist didn’t feel we needed to buy a “proper” one. He thought a scarf or something similar would be worth trying to begin with, so we cut up an old t-shirt and used that. It worked wonders in our case, but I doubt our improvised version would work in most situations. For bigger dogs a real sling is recommended.    

Dog ramps

ramps are great mobility aids for dogs

Sadly lots of dogs get left back from family car trips because it’s too hard to lift the dog in and out of the car, and he’s unable to walk much once they arrive at their destination. No worries, that’s why we have dog ramps to help get in and out of cars and boats, and even onto the bed or couch.

Styles and sizes galore, some are telescoping so their reach is far, others fold, some turn into steps and I’ve even seen one that rolls. Pay attention to how much traction the ramp you’re considering has, you don’t want your dog slipping if it gets wet. Steepness of incline is also key. Too short and too steep, your dog may not be able to use it. A longer more gradual incline is best.

Doesn’t this sound perfect, teamed up with a pet stroller? They both fold for easy storage in the car, one helps your dog in and out, the other when you arrive.

By the way, there are also ramps that can be used alongside the bed or for joining you on the couch. If you are thinking of indoor use, be aware of the amount of floor space it will take up and how far out it will reach. You don’t want to create a tripping hazard.

Pet steps

pet steps are great mobility aids for dogs

Pet steps are another great tool to help your dog reach his favourite spot on your bed or couch. Taking up less floor space than a ramp, they are less of a tripping hazard, and can be easier to move around, especially because some even have a carry handle. Available in 2, 3 or 4 steps, they come in many different styles, designs and materials. They are also perfect for cats who are not great jumpers, or aren’t able to reach the heights they used to.

One added note – jumping can put a lot of pressure on puppy and kitten bones, so getting them used to pet steps may prevent joint problems later in life. 

Dog wheelchair

 

dog wheelchair is a great mobility aid for dogs

I would imagine the thought of a dog wheelchair raises a lot of emotions for you. When my husband and I were meeting with the neurologist to discuss Jack’s paralysis, I brought up the topic of a wheelchair. Although our amazing doctor Ed was quite confident Jack would regain the use of his legs (of course it was never a guarantee), I thought it was important to discuss how we felt about it in advance, just in case.

Seeing how resilient Jack has been during his recovery, and me having a hard time keeping up with him when only his front legs were working, I have no doubt he would have adapted to rolling around, and still have a great quality of life. I’m relieved he didn’t need the wheels, but delighted they exist as an option for other dogs who have had a different outcome. It means they can still have fun and happy lives with their families.    

Dog boots

non slip shoes are great mobility aids for dogs

Another fantastic, multi-functional product are dog boots.

Hopefully your dog is more agreeable then my little 16 year old Red. I was in Canada with her one winter – heavy snow, ice and of course lots of salt. Needless to say it was too painful for her to walk, so I bought her booties. I wish I had a video of that experience!! She weighs 10 lbs, but believe me when she doesn’t want to do something, she has the strength of a dog 10x her size. Long story short she was agreeable to paw wax so we settled on that.

The boots are a wonderful solution for dogs that drag their feet due to join pain, or are unsteady on certain surfaces.

In our case they are something Jack would have benefited from, especially if his recovery had taken longer. Even though we used a sling, his back legs would occasionally drag causing sores on the tops of his paws if on small stones or pavement. I wrapped his paws in gauze when we were out, then once we were home he would entertain himself by pulling it off. Boots would have been ideal, I wish I had thought of it from the beginning, although something tells me he would not have worn them. That’s just the way he is!! Having had no experience with a paralysed dog, and being from Canada where you think the only use for booties is protection from the salt… This was one of those “live and learn” situations.   

Splints and leg supports

front splint is a wonderful mobility aid for dogs

Designed to support front or back legs, these splints and leg supports are a tremendous help for dogs dealing with conditions such as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease and soft tissue injuries to name just a few. Padded velcro straps are used for adjusting, padding on the inside ensures your dog is comfortable, and non-slip pads on the bottom keeps him stable and sure footed.

Joint supplements

Glucosamine/chondroitin

You may be familiar with glucosamine/chondroitin as a supplement for humans with joint issues, and have heard a lot of positive feedback. It is also used for dogs, and while it is not guaranteed to help in every case, there are so many success stories, it is worth looking into.

So what is it?

The body synthesizes most of its own glucosamine to form, repair and keep existing cartilage healthy. Production slows as dogs get older, which affects the body’s natural ability to repair itself. When you combine wear and tear on the joints (something that happens naturally as our dog’s walk, jump and play), with the slower repair time of the body, you start to see the development of arthritis. Chondroitin is another substance naturally found in cartilage, and when combined with glucosamine is an even more beneficial joint supplement.

Read this ⇔ “Glucosamine and Chondroitin For Dogs.”

New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels

Found only in the waters surrounding New Zealand, this is one of the largest in the mussel family, and are rich in omega fatty acids and minerals. They are known as “green lipped” because of the green tinge along the edge.

A natural anti-inflammatory because they are an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin, they are not only helpful for pets already suffering the effects of arthritis, but can be used as a preventative as well. They are considered to be particularly effective when combined with fish oil, glucosamine and chondroitin.

Before you give your dog any supplements, I recommend you speak with your vet. If you’re interested in exploring natural pain relief, speak to your vet or a holistic vet. 

Acupuncture

Red having acupuncture

There are an unlimited number of success stories told by people whose dogs have benefited greatly from acupuncture. While it is not guaranteed to help every pet, it is at least worth considering. It can be used in combination with other therapies, and treats a wide variety of conditions, including arthritis. If your veterinary practice does not offer it, find a holistic vet and make an appointment to learn more.

We recently returned from a four month stay in Spain, and I took Red to a holistic vet there. I had long been curious about how alternative treatments could benefit her, so in addition to a home cooked whole food diet, and supplements to replace 3 of her medications, he recommended acupuncture. Although Red does not suffer from joint pain it was part of my vet’s overall wellness plan for her. She had twice weekly treatments for 3 months. At the time I found it difficult to know whether or not it was making a difference because it wasn’t to help a “visible” issue. We’ve been back five weeks and now I see acupuncture helped with her immunity and yes, overall wellbeing. 

Read this ⇒Acupuncture For Senior Dogs: Is There a Point?” 

Mobility aids for dogs – conclusion

I hope you find this information as positive and encouraging as I do. I have personally used (I should say my dogs) almost every item on this list, and the benefits cannot be overstated. It has made life so much easier and more comfortable for all of us.

Please don’t let your dog feel pain or spend the rest of his life in bed, now that you are aware of all the amazing mobility aids for dogs.

Have you used any of these products? How much of a difference have they made in the life of your do? Sharing helps others so please leave your comments in the section below, or on my Facebook page.   

 

 

dog ramps and pet stairs

2 Things You Must Know About Dog Ramps and Dog Stairs

2 things you must know about dog ramps and dog stairs

I’ve piqued your curiosity haven’t I? Excellent!

As someone who lives with senior dogs, and dogs so neglected they have no idea how to use stairs, I love these products and would never be without one or both. I try and take pictures as much as possible, but unfortunately 2 Things You Must Know About Dog Ramps and Dog Stairshave none to show you of them being used in my house.

So what are the 2 things you must know?

  1. What a difference they will make in the life of your pet
  2. How much easier things will be for you.

How you ask? Keep reading as we talk about the benefits of both.  

Benefits of ramps and stairs for your dog

  • Help arthritic dogs get on and off the couch or bed, and in and out of the car
  • Senior dogs who are slowing down and could use that extra bit of help
  • Stops your pet from putting undue pressure on joints when jumping, reducing wear and tear, preventing injury now to hopefully avoid problems later
  • Dogs too small or too young to jump can still have access to the spots they like
  • Perfect for pets recovering from an injury or surgery who have to take it easy
  • Makes it easier to get into a bathtub at the groomers, or at home
  • Your dog no longer has to wait for help from you, and avoids injury if you aren’t around and decides to jump on his own
  • A ramp is perfect for a dog who doesn’t know how to use stairs, or has trouble using them

Benefits for you

  • You no longer have to lift your dog in and out of the car, or on and off of the couch
  • You have a giant breed that is just too big to pick up
  • Back or joint problems may make it difficult for you to lift even a small dog, and now you won’t have to
  • You don’t have to constantly monitor your dog, to make sure he’s not going to hurt himself by jumping when he shouldn’t
  • Even if you have nothing preventing you from picking your dog up all the time, why should you have to? 

My experience using a ramp

A few years ago we rescued Saffy, a puppy mill dog who had been kept in a chicken coop for 8 years, breeding. It became apparent quite quickly she had never seen stairs, or had any idea how to use them. Rather than try and put her paws on each step, she would literally just fall down them. Getting back up was no better.

You may be asking yourself why I didn’t just pick her up and carry her. She had been so traumatised by her ordeal, being picked up freaked her out, so I certainly did not want to scare her more than she already was.

Naturally she ended up hurting her leg, not seriously thank goodness. It did, however, cause me to increase the frequency of the pleas to my husband to build a ramp for her. Because of the position of the door, no store bought ramp would fit, so it had to be custom built, and it was perfect. The incline was very gradual and she had no trouble walking up and down.

We did use a folding store bought one for the bedroom, so she could get onto the bed. That incline was a bit steeper, again because of the amount of room but it worked perfectly.

Those ramps made a huge difference in Saffy’s life, and ours.

Which is better – a dog ramp or dog stairs?

The question isn’t so much which one is better, but rather which one is better for your particular needs.

  • The main advantage of stairs over a ramp is they take up less space. They can go right up against a bed in a small space where a ramp cannot.
  • Stairs may not be as stable as a ramp
  • Depending on a dog’s mobility issues, stairs may be more difficult to use
  • A ramp, particularly one with a very gradual incline, is likely easier for an arthritic dog to manage

Features to think about when choosing

Once you’ve decided whether you want stairs or a ramp, these features will help you narrow down the options, and ultimately help you choose the right one. Most of the features listed will apply to both.

  • Do you need something for indoor use, outdoors, or both?
  • What will you be using it for – getting on and off the couch? In and out of the car? On and off a boat?
  • Height the stairs or ramp has to reach
  • Maximum weight it will support
  • Ease of assembly
  • Can it be folded and stored
  • Portability – how easy is it to carry
  • Stability when set up – something that wobbles can be dangerous for your pet to use
  • Non slip surface – having your pet slip, especially if used outdoors in wet weather, or with muddy paws, can cause injury
  • How steep the slope of the ramp is   
  • Width
  • Number of steps
  • Height and depth of each step
  • Type of material
  • Style
  • Budget

Dog Ramps


 

Dog Stairs


2 Things You Must Know About dog ramps and dog stairs – conclusion

Anything that makes a dog’s life easier and more comfortable makes me very happy. Knowing how many options there are to help senior dogs who have mobility issues makes me even happier.

Have you decided on a ramp or stairs? What made you choose one over the other? I’d love to hear how it has helped make things easier for your dog…and you. Share your story in the comments section, and feel free to send pictures of your happy pup.

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a new Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.