If you’re a dog owner, you probably want your pet to be as safe and comfortable in your home as possible. Sometimes, that requires making the space they live in safer for them.
If your house or apartment has wooden stairs, you surely know how dangerous they can get for your pooch. From slipping due to its nails to having a hard time going up and down due to the nature of the wood itself — your dog can truly find it hard to navigate stairs.
With time, having to climb the stairs a few times every day may become a difficult feat for your pup, and on top of that, it may prove to be dangerous. Slipping and falling down the stairs can lead to serious injuries, so keep reading to see what you can do to prevent that.
Generally speaking, stairs don’t pose an issue for every dog. However, some dogs fear them. If you recognize this in your pup, work with them, reward them when they go up or down, and encourage them as much as you can. That will help them get over their fear quicker.
Sometimes, using stairs might also cause discomfort (especially for dogs who suffer from arthritis), and your dog may decide to relocate downstairs. Should this happen with elderly dogs, respect their decision. They know their limits, so never force your dog to use the stairs if they don’t want to.
As dogs age, their joints get weaker, and hip-related problems are quite common in certain breeds, such as:
- Golden Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Newfoundlands, etc.
Apart from this, with age, their eyesight won’t be as good as it used to be, and their entire body won’t be as flexible as before. At that point, climbing up or going down the stairs will be a huge difficulty.
However, even the healthiest pup can slip and fall if the stairs themselves are slippery. Not only is that a highly traumatic experience, but it can also lead to very nasty injuries (such as spine injuries). Preventing that won’t take too much of your time or money, and it’ll mean the world to your furry friend.
How to Make Your Stairs Dog-Friendly
1. Take Your Dog to the Vet
Your dog may be struggling with going up and down the stairs, but the staircase itself might not be the problem. Your pet may have a medical issue you’re unaware of, so having a full checkup should be the first step. Possible medical issues include, but are not limited to:
- Joint problems
- Poor eyesight
- Back problems
- Nail/foot problems
An important thing to keep in mind is that dogs often tend to power through the pain and discomfort, unlike most people, so you’ll need to pay close attention. Should you notice that your dog slips on the stairs or its legs seem wobbly, the vet is the best place to go.
Also, all of the above doesn’t happen only to elderly dogs, and even if your pup is in its prime, the best thing to do is to rule out health problems.
2. Keep Its Nails Short
Trimming your dog’s nails regularly is quite useful because that prevents the nails from getting caught on different things, stairs included. This is especially important for dogs who don’t spend enough time walking on the pavement, which is a “natural” file for dogs’ nails.
In addition, long nails prevent your dog from having a firm and steady grip while walking. That can be especially problematic on wooden surfaces, which are naturally slippery and require a firm stance. Thus, trimming your pet’s nails is essential for its safety.
If you don’t know how, or are uncomfortable with trimming the nails, any vet or groomer will gladly do it for you. In fact, it might be best that they do it, as they will ensure it is done safely.
There is another thing you should pay close attention to. If your dog is fluffy, chances are there’s a lot of fuzz on the pads of your dog’s paws. As you may have guessed, that doesn’t make using the stairs easier. Regularly trimming the excess hair will definitely make your dog feel more stable.
3. Install Stair Treads
Stair treads are a wonderful invention for those with dogs and stairs. You can install them both inside and outside, and they’re easily removable when it’s cleaning time. They work in various weather conditions, even if it’s rainy or cold out, so you won’t have to worry — your dog won’t slip.
Stair treads provide a good grip for your dog and add more traction, which means more stability. They are of great help to energetic pups or those struggling with grip and balance.
For more information check the video below:
4. Install a Ramp
Ramps can come in handy in case you have up to five stairs your dog needs to climb. Ramps are far more friendly for your dog’s hips and spine, especially if you have an elderly dog.
Another good thing about ramps is that once your dog is where they need to be, you can remove it. Of course, if you have a wide staircase, you can keep the ramp in place permanently. Still, this solution can only work if your staircase is made of a few stairs.
5. Get Toegrips
Toegrips usually go directly on your dog’s toenails. Once you put them on, they will provide more traction, which will make climbing the stairs much easier. There’s a variety of colors and styles you can choose from. As such, you can even have your pup look all fancy, like they got a pedicure!
It’s important to note that a lot of dogs aren’t exactly thrilled to wear toegrips. If your dog doesn’t like their paws or nails touched, this might not be the best solution. Never do anything that makes your pet uncomfortable. It will only result in more pain and discomfort for them, and that’s never a good solution.
6. Improve Visibility
Depth perception in humans is estimated to be 140 degrees. On the other hand, in dogs it’s only 30-60 degrees. Because of this, dogs may find stairs scarier than we do. Additionally, their age may make it harder to see in the dark. Unsurprisingly, people also don’t enjoy using stairs if they can’t see them properly.
If you need to let your dog out during the night, you can improve visibility, thus reducing their chances of slipping and falling. The cheapest solution is placing some duct tape on each step. Make sure the color of the tape is bright, preferably yellow. Another way to improve visibility is to simply leave the lights on.
7. Use a Dog Sling
Larger aging dogs often experience joint problems (mostly hips), and stairs are a difficult obstacle for them in such cases. If their hind legs aren’t strong enough, they will easily slip and fall.
A dog sling is a great invention to decrease the stress on the lower part of your dog’s body. It will also help the pup psychologically, as they’ll feel safer when going up or down the stairs.
You can even make one yourself!
8. Carry Your Dog or Get a Travel Kennel
This one is not an ideal solution as it might prove tricky for you. However, if all else fails and your pooch cannot deal with the staircase on their own, carry them up and down. Of course, this is only possible with smaller breeds and puppies.
Some dogs don’t like being carried, which is when a travel kennel can come in handy. If you teach your dog that the travel kennel is a safe space, they’ll happily pop in and out of it whenever needed.
We all want what is best for our dogs, and it’s our responsibility to keep them safe and healthy. If you notice your dog is struggling with the stairs at home, do what needs to be done before an accident happens. These solutions are great on their own, but you can also combine a few of them. In addition, you can think of something entirely new that will work best for your four-legged friend. As long as it is happy and safe, the type of solution doesn’t matter.