For many people, their pet is more than just an animal companion, it’s a part of the family. For this reason, we want to provide our furry friends with everything they need to live comfortably. For older or disabled dogs and small breeds, this might mean supplying your pet with steps or stairs to make accessing things like the sofa, car and bed much easier.
My 11 year old Maltese, Lilly, has lost the sight in both of her eyes and as such, she found it almost impossible to get up onto the couch to sit next to me. I’ve found that having a good set of pet stairs has made the world of difference for my dog and I’m confident you’ll feel the same once you try some for yourself.
Of course, with so many options to choose from, buying your first pet steps of stairs can be somewhat baffling. That’s why I have put together this guide on what to look for and how to choose the best pet steps for your pet.
Best Pet Steps & Stairs at a Glance
In a hurry? If so, below are my top picks for the best pet steps and ramps selected by the most popular feature.
Last update on 2024-02-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Why Use Pet Steps Or Stairs?
Before I get into the nitty gritty of what to look for when choosing pet steps and stairs, I think it’s worth going over some of the advantages. This will help you decide whether these are the right accessory for your pet and help you to understand how best to use them. You can see more information on the advantages in my YouTube video below that also has a veterinary perspective of the use and benefits of pet steps.
One of the great things about pet steps is how versatile they are. Most people use them for dogs but they can just as easily be used for cats and any other animal that’s able to climb them. What’s more, you can use them all around the house and most are so lightweight that they can simply be picked up and moved from room to room.
For pets that are small, getting up onto a high surface like a bed or a sofa can put strain on their joints as they’re having to jump. Allowing them to use steps takes some of the pressure off and means that they don’t have to over-exert themselves. Moreover, according to undergraduate veterinary student, Jason, having steps reduces the risk of your pet developing a hernia or injuring themselves when jumping down onto slippery tiled floors.
As dogs get older, their bodies change, just like ours and steps can help them to get up and down so much easier. This also applies to dogs that have disabilities or physical limitations and let’s not forget that it’ll help the owner too as they’ll no longer have to lift their pet up and down.
Things To Consider When Buying Pet Steps And Stairs
Now that you understand how a set of pet steps or stairs could benefit your dog, it’s time to start thinking about which is the right product for you. It’s really important to assess the needs of your dog and compare these with the various features of certain pet steps and stairs as not all are made equal and where one set might work well for one dog, it may be terrible for the next.
Size And Shape Of The Stairs
Perhaps the most important thing you’ll need to think about is the size of the steps. For me, I found that Lilly got on much better with steps that were level with the platform she needed to get onto. This is because of her blindness as she is able to feel the steps when coming down and saved her having to tackle an additional step once she reached the top.
However, if your dog’s vision is spot on then a final step won’t really make much difference, so you can save yourself a few pounds in the process. On top of this, I’d also suggest looking at how many steps there are and compare this with the ability of your dog. If your dog has any disabilities then the fewer steps they have to climb, the better.
Of course, you don’t want fewer steps to mean larger steps which could pose a problem if the dog has shorter legs. Generally speaking, pet stairs come with either 2, 3 or 4 steps so weigh up your options carefully. As you can see in my video, I chose to go for a hybrid approach. The steps I purchased is a combination of step and a ramp. The steps are shallow and curved, so for Lilly my blind dog, they are perfect as she can easily walk/step up and down the steps, but she has the assurance of learning how many steps there are to the top, and stopping on a step should she need to get rest or get her baring’s. Take a look at my video review of the ZNM Dog 3-Step Dog Stairs/Steps to see how easy and confidently my dog navigates these steps.
Let’s take a look at some more specific considerations in terms of size and shape.
Best Pet Steps And Stairs For Small Dog Breeds
If you have a smaller dog breed then you may find that a ramp is a better alternative to steps as this eliminates the need for the dog to climb up high steps. One of the main benefits of this is that your pet won’t strain themselves as much physically so there will be less chance of health problems in the future.
That said, I would recommend trying out various ramps and steps as you’ll find that some dogs don’t get on with a ramp and prefer to have individual steps so they have the option to stop as they’re climbing.
If you are going to use a ramp then I should warn you that some will need more clearance than others so be sure to take measurements. This will ensure there’s enough room at the front of the ramp for your dog to get onto it. Also keep in mind that ramps with a lower angle tend to be longer to make up for this.
Best Steps And Stairs For Corgis
Corgis, French bulldogs, dachshunds and lots of other small breeds have short legs which can make climbing pet stairs more of a challenge. In this case, I’d recommend choosing something with shorter steps which will make life easier for your dog. Again, a ramp may work well in this case and if your pet doesn’t like the continuation, there are options that have shallow curved steps which are a hybrid of the ramp and stairs.
Having a small dog does mean that you won’t need to worry so much about the width of each step as your pooch will fit happily onto it. While most are around 40 cm wide, there are exceptions to this so do double check that the step will be compatible with your pet before buying.
Best Pet Steps And Stairs For A High Bed
As I mentioned earlier, pet stairs come with 2, 3 or 4 steps. The more steps there are, the higher the stairs will reach. So, if you have a high bed then I’d recommend going for something with more steps and you’ll usually find that the largest are around 50 cm. Just make sure that the rise of each step isn’t too high for your particular breed or the physical condition or your dog.
If you want to ensure safety then it’s essential to purchase a set of pet stairs that are compatible with the weight of your dog. If you buy something that can’t handle your dog’s weight then this could cause the steps to shift or cave and this can be very distressing for your pet. It could even put them off using steps in future.
Best Pet Steps And Stairs For Large Dog Breeds
For larger dog breeds, it pays to be extremely mindful about the steps you are buying. Not only will you need to consider the weight limit but you’ll also need to ensure that the steps are stable enough for your dog. Most large dogs will have no problem jumping up onto the sofa, but getting into the back of a car is another matter. Generally ramps are a better option when it comes to cars, but some still use folding steps such as the solid plastic Easipet Dog Pet Access Steps.
A large dog climbing up narrow steps could result in the stairs tipping or wobbling. Again, this could be upsetting for your dog and do more harm than good.
It would be easy to assume that a set of pet stairs was a pretty simple accessory. In a way, this is true but there are plenty of practicalities I’d urge you to think about before you settle on a product. Not only will this make the steps easier to use, it’ll also make them safer.
Best Pet Steps With Storage
If your dog is anything like mine then they’ll have an array of toys and accessories and finding the space to keep all this stuff can be tricky. However, there are some pet stairs that have storage compartments within each step and I think this is perfect for homes that lack storage space. An example of pet steps with built in storage is the Neekor Pet Stairs,3 Steps Dog Steps Foldable Dog Ramp Small Pet Ladder with 3 Storage Boxes. Why not see my review and video of these pet steps in action – Neekor Pet Stairs,3 Steps Dog Steps Review
Best Non-Slip Pet Steps And Stairs
The last thing that any dog owner wants are stairs that are unsafe. This is especially true if you’re purchasing them for a dog that is already struggling with health conditions which is why it’s really important to think about where you will place the steps and whether they’ll need any additional grip.
If you’re using the steps on a tiled, wooden or otherwise smooth surface then I would not recommend buying anything without a non-slip base. In my reviews, I always try out the steps on my tilled surface to how well they grip and if there is any potential for the to slip away when being used.
I love that you can buy dog steps in a variety of different materials because no two dogs are the same. You first need to think about any problems your dog faces. For example, with Lilly being blind, I prefer to use foam stairs as they won’t hurt her should she bump into them.
However, other people like to use plastic pet stairs as these are a lot easier to keep clean as you only need to wipe them down. That said, I’ve found that most foam stairs have removable covers which are machine washable so they’re still very easy to keep hygienic.
One thing I would ask you to keep in mind when using foam stairs is that the assembly can take longer. That’s not because it’s more complicated but because the foam comes vacuum packed. This means that, once you’ve put the covers on, you’ll need to leave the foam to expand for up to 24 hours before you can safely use the steps. But once they’re up, they are among some of the most lightweight and portable steps out there, aside from the folding plastic steps which I’ll talk about in more detail later.
There are also some wooden pet stairs on the market and out of all materials, there’s no doubt that they are the best looking. If you want something that’s not going to interfere with the decor in your home, they’re a good option. However, I would consider whether your dog is a chewer because they could easily wreak a set of wooden stairs.
Easiest To Care For
Regardless of the type of material you choose, it’s worth looking for something that’s easy to care for. As I’ve discussed, plastic is always going to be the simplest to care for. What’s more, it’s waterproof which is brilliant if your dog has incontinence issues. Removing the cover of the foam steps is fine, however, getting the cover back on, is somewhat of a struggle.
Wooden steps are going to be the most difficult to keep clean and scratch free, but do look for those that will resist dirt and have padded steps.
Best Folding Pet Steps
I did try out a set of plastic steps that I’ll use for travelling since they conveniently fold away. They wouldn’t be suitable for use around the house because of my dog’s eyesight problems. However, if your dog is physically able to use plastic stairs and you don’t have a lot of room, folding steps like these Easipet Dog Pet Access Folding Steps are a brilliant option.
If you are going to choose folding steps then I would recommend checking the stability before letting your dog use them. Make sure that the stairs lock into place and won’t collapse when they take any weight.
The Complete Guide To Buying Pet Steps Video
Well I hope this article and the accompanying video guide, has given you all the information you need to choose the best pet steps and stairs for your pet and your own requirements.
If you do have any questions, please feel free to ask using the comments box below.
Training Your Pet to Use Pet Steps, Ramps and Stairs
I have a complete guide and video to help guide you to training your pet to safely use your new pet steps or ramps.
Pet Steps & Stairs FAQs
Is a ramp or stairs better for dogs?
A ramp is a good choice for dogs that are suffering with joint issues as they won’t need to lift their shoulders to climb. They’re also a better choice for dogs with short legs who might struggle to use high steps. You’ll need to assess the needs of your pet to make the right decision for them.
Why won’t my dog use the pet stairs?
Your dog may initially be scared of the steps or could be confused as to what they are for. For this reason, you may need to spend some time teaching and encouraging your pet to use the stairs.
When should you use pet stairs?
Pet stairs are ideal for dogs (and cats) that find it difficult to jump up onto the sofa or bed. They’re also a good choice for smaller dogs to save them having to jump long distances which could result in health problems, like arthritis and hernias, down the line.
Do pet stairs have weight restrictions?
Yes, depending on the material and how the stairs are constructed, they will only be able to take a certain amount of weight. This is why it’s important to choose something that will offer safe and full support to your pooch.
How do you store pet stairs?
If you’re short on storage space or do not wish to have the pet steps out all the time then it’s worth looking for a set that can be folded away.