Dog Ramps: Does Your Dog Need One?

Age, arthritis, and injuries can interfere with your dog’s enjoyment of beds, sofas, and rides in the car. Dog ramps can help inactive dogs enjoy their favorite places again.


Your dog can’t move around the way he used to. He might have trouble with stairs or his favorite window seat, and you feel his disappointment. Fortunately, a whole industry supports canine mobility with ramps and stairs that can help him feel younger again.

What are dog ramps and why use them?

Ramps are flat sloping boards that replace stairs with a gradual incline that’s easy to walk up or down. Most dog ramps are made of wood, plastic, or metal, and their surfaces include carpet, fabric, artificial grass, and nonskid materials.

When positioned between the floor and furniture or between the ground and your car’s door, a dog ramp can:

  • Reduce joint strain and arthritis pain.
  • Assist older dogs who can no longer jump into a car or onto a sofa or grooming table.
  • Prevent injury to you or whomever helps the dog climb up or down.
  • Reduce stress or anxiety associated with mobility tasks.
  • Help developing puppies stay safe by preventing hard landings.
  • Help dogs of all ages recover from illness, accidents, injuries, or surgery.

What should I look for in a dog ramp?

dog ramp
When using car ramps, always provide your dog with guidance and support, so he doesn’t try to rush or jump off, and can’t slip or fall off if distracted. © Molly100 |

Dog ramps come in all kinds of materials, sizes, and price ranges. Here are some considerations.

  • If you plan to use the ramp indoors and out, look for durable materials that survive weather changes.
  • An adjustable ramp can be used in different situations or with different vehicles.
  • A folding or collapsible ramp will be easy to transport.
  • Be sure the ramp will fit in your vehicle if you plan to travel with it.
  • Nonskid surfaces, safety rails, and sturdy construction help prevent accidents.
  • The ramp should be an appropriate size for your dog and it should support her weight.
  • Be sure the ramp’s slope is comfortable for your dog. Small dogs and dogs with mobility problems often need a gentle or easy slope.
  • Check to be sure you can lift, extend, adjust, or move the ramp easily.
  • Look for a ramp that is easy to clean so it will stay fresh and look attractive.

What is the best dog ramp for my car?

Think about where you’re likely to go with your dog in the vehicle you’re most likely to use. Bi-fold and tri-fold collapsible ramps with skid- or slip-resistant surfaces are popular options, but check the size and weight of the ramp along with assembly instructions and slope to be sure it’s a good match for you and your car as well as your dog.

What is the best ramp for my bed?

Pet stairs and ramps make it easy for dogs to climb onto your bed or other furniture. Check the weight capacity for stairs, as different models support 20 pounds to more than 150. For convenience, look for a ramp or stairs that can be left in place, and for aesthetic appreciation, choose one that goes well with your furniture.

Ramps are unfamiliar to most dogs, so introduce your ramp in a quiet area free of distractions and practice with rewards and praise.


  1. This article is good, but basic. What do people do with older dogs on boats, for example, where steps can be much steeper? Is it possible to have foam stairs made that will also support humans? Has anyone tried doggie-lifting devices, similar to stair elevators? Are there foldable ramps that work well for steep stairs indoors? We live on a boat with our 10-year-old, 75-pound lab. So far her mobility is good, but it will probably get worse, even though she’s very healthy. Any suggestions would be welcome! Thanks

  2. I use the for my dogs. It comes in various sizes (I use the petloader light 16 one for all sizes. My dogs (especially the older ones and the ones with walking issues) prefer the bigger platform to walk up on. I stand by their sides to make them feel comfortable (I have yet to find one that has sides for dogs because my dogs would feel more comfortable with sides on the stairs) and it folds up quite nicely. My first one has lasted more than 10 years and I just recently bought a second one because when I first bought it they did not offer the lighter weight one.

    And if my dogs mobility decreases, I am going to go with the help em up harness.