As a pet owner, you take your dog with you everywhere: for a walk, on vacation, to visit friends or even to the office (if your employer allows it). If the way there is covered by car, the animal must be transported in the trunk. But what if the dog is already old or weak and suffers from joint problems, for example? And puppies should not jump too much when they are young, so that their bones grow healthily. In this case there are two solutions: Either you lift the animal into the wagon yourself, which is certainly no fun with large and heavy breeds - especially if you yourself suffer from physical disabilities. Or you can use a dog ramp or stairs that make everyday life easier for you and the animals.
In terms of the basic principle, dog ramps and dog steps fulfill the same purpose: they are intended to make it easier for sick, old or weak animals to get into the car or onto elevations such as a couch or bed. But here the question arises: which model is more suitable and why? The answer is very simple: since a ramp does not have steps, it can be walked up and down without any problems. In addition, it takes up less space in the vehicle (when folded) and can be used at any time to help get in or out of the vehicle. The disadvantage, however, is that the sloping tread can put more strain on the paws. For this reason, the dog stairs are an alternative for your pet. It is particularly suitable for small dog breeds or puppies that cannot or should not make large jumps.
Depending on the manufacturer, dog ramps and steps differ from each other, especially when it comes to the materials used and integrated functions, size and weight. For this reason, you should think in advance about which criteria – in addition to the area of application – are important for your pet. This includes the following properties:
1. Plastic dog ramp
This lightweight plastic model weighs five kilograms and is collapsible, making it easy to store in the car. According to the manufacturer, the dog ramp can withstand up to 90 kilograms, making it particularly suitable for large and heavy breeds. However, to ensure easy entry and exit, the loading sill of your vehicle should not be higher than 80 centimeters. The dimensions are given here as 156 x 40 x 9 cm.
2. Aluminum dog ramp
This aluminum car ramp from Lidl is significantly more expensive to buy. Thanks to the integrated anti-slip tread, older or weakened dogs should find it easier to get into the trunk. The manufacturer states that it weighs 8.3 kilograms, and there is no maximum load capacity in the description. Due to the stable material, however, the model should be suitable for large and heavy breeds.
3. Foam dog stairs
This non-slip dog step is available with three or four steps, depending on the height of the furniture. With a weight of 2.47 kilograms, the foam model is lighter than a ramp and therefore only suitable for small pets. According to the manufacturer, the dimensions are 40 centimeters wide and 57 centimeters high (three levels). The stair comes vacuum packed and will need to expand after unpacking.
4. Plastic dog stairs
With this model made of polypropylene (plastic), you can choose between two different colors: black and beige. The stairs can be folded and thus easily stowed away in the apartment. According to the manufacturer, however, it should only be used on non-slip surfaces. The net weight is 2.5 kilograms. As a result, it can withstand a maximum load of just ten kilograms - i.e. very small dog breeds.
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As practical as a dog ramp may be, many animals are suspicious of it at first. In order to get your pet used to the entry and exit aid, you need to be patient. Under no circumstances may your dog be forced to enter the ramp. Instead, you should give the furry friend time to get used to the support. Initially place the ramp (or stairs) in a familiar environment, for example in front of a piece of furniture such as the sofa – if the animal is normally allowed to sit on it. Let the dog sniff it and, after the adjustment period, encourage it to step onto the ramp with a few treats or a toy. Practice getting on and off until your pet feels safe. After that, you should continue training in the car for a while before you start your first trip together.
And one more tip at the end: A dog ramp or dog staircase is just as suitable for decrepit or sick cats that no longer find jumping so easy.
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