It can be easy to forget that as our pets age, their physical capabilities decline over time just as they do for us. Dogs may develop hip or leg issues that make getting in and out of a vehicle difficult and painful. We don’t expect an older parent or friend to get in and out of a car without some assistance, so why would we expect any different from an aging pet?
Certain breeds of dogs, often the larger ones, tend to be more susceptible to conditions like hip dysplasia, and those problems are intensified in pets that are inactive and overweight. A portable dog ramp is a useful and affordable solution, particularly if you have trouble lifting your pet in and out of a vehicle yourself.
While it is hard to predict with complete certainty, here are a few considerations:
Start Early: It is ideal to teach your dog to use a ramp while she’s still a puppy, or before it becomes a physical necessity. Constantly picking your pet up to load and unload may cause her to expect such behavior to last forever, making ramp-training more difficult as she ages. Training your puppy to use a ramp from an early age will not only save your back from lifting her in and out of the vehicle, it may also prevent your dog from developing long-term hip or leg injuries that can result from years of a repeated jumping and landing on hard surfaces.
Test Ramp: You may want to create a small test ramp to assess whether your dog will climb the dog ramp voluntarily. The test ramp should be short and stable. Start with a slight incline and gradually increase the angle each time your pet successfully navigates the ramp until it is at an angle similar to the dog ramp of your choice. Holding food or a treat in front of your dog’s nose as you lead her slowly up the ramp may provide extra encouragement if necessary.
Practice Steps: If it is too late to start early and you cannot make a test ramp, you can observe how your dog behaves on staircases that are not completely enclosed, which present similar conditions to what she would experience while using a vehicular dog ramp. Climbing up steps without hesitation is a good sign that your dog can climb a pet ramp.
Portability Style: Many pet ramps come in either a folding or telescope design. Folding style ramps fold in half for easy storage, assembly, and disassembly. Telescope style ramps slide into themselves and can be used at any length between the fully-closed and fully-open positions for versatility, are easy to deploy, and do not run the risk of pinching your fingers at a folding point.
Length and Width: Remember when selecting ramps for dogs that a longer ramp has a lower degree of incline; this may prove easier for your pet to climb. Keeping in mind the different portability styles as mentioned above, you may want to purchase the longest ramp possible that will store in your vehicle. Recommended width generally depends on the size of your dog. Naturally, larger pets will require wider ramps. A wider ramp also provides additional room for your dog if she becomes distracted and gets off track while loading or unloading.
Material: Dog ramps are constructed of either composite or aluminum materials. Composite ramps are lighter and less likely to scratch your vehicle’s paint, but may crack if handled improperly. Aluminum ramps require minimal care, don’t rust or break down if exposed to UV rays, and will not crack when bent.
Surface Style: The variety of ramp surface styles includes grit, rubber, and carpet. Grit surfaces provide the best traction, followed by rubber and carpet. Both grit and rubber surfaces require minimal cleaning, while carpeted surfaces tend to require more maintenance and may retain moisture, but are typically the most affordable. Select the style most suited to the activities you and your pet enjoy.
Additional Features: Some ramps are available with extra features such as side rails, which may give your pet extra confidence when using it, handles, which help to make transportation much easier, and safety release straps which keep the ramps from opening unintentionally.
Check out our selection of pet ramps to find the right one for your canine friend. If you have any more questions regarding pet ramps, please don’t hesitate to contact us. One of our skilled customer service representatives will be happy to help!