Pet Steps or Pet Ramps?
- Overview - sizing up the options
- Steps or Ramps?
- I know what I need, now what?
Overview - sizing up the options
There are many things to consider when purchasing Pet Steps or Ramps for your dog or cat.
- Do I need "Pet Steps" or a "Pet Ramp"?
- What size is best for my pet?
- Why all the different ramp lengths?
These are just a few of the questions heard every day from anxious pet owners searching for just the right product to help their pets.
To eliminate some of the confusion, we have written this document to assist with your important decision. All of the information below was gathered from the many years of product design and hands-on experience here at Pet Classics™, in combination with the most commonly received questions, critiques, and comments from our customers.
Every situation is unique so there's no simple answer to this question. But we've highlighted below many of the features, options and differences between steps and ramps to help you decide what's best for your pet. We've also included issues unique to dogs vs. cats, as they tend to be somewhat different.
Pet Steps and Stairs are a great alternative for pets that are familiar with, and physically agile enough to use, standard people stairs.
When shopping for pet stairs, it is very important to pay particular attention to the rise (height) of each step. As a rule, normal indoor and outdoor stairs have individual step rises that are 6-1/2" to 7-1/2" high and pet steps should be similarly sized.
Another important consideration is the depth of each stair. Pets prefer deep, roomy steps for easy maneuverability - so be sure that each stair has a depth of 10" - 12" for ease of use.
One of the primary benefits of pet steps is that they take up less floor space than ramps to reach the same height. (They can be placed facing into or alongside a chair or bed which is great for tight spaces.) For healthy young and middle-age pets of any size, pet steps provide a great way to get up and down safely from sofas, chairs, beds or most any spot in the house.
And don't forget areas outside the home! We manufacture cedar pet steps which are great for many outdoor applications! Use them for decks, doggy doors, vehicles - they work well just about anywhere. Need a special size? No problem. Just call us with your dimensions for a custom step quote.
When purchasing steps for senior pets, it is also wise to give consideration to pending health and agility issues. If you have a very elderly dog (11+ yrs) or cat (17+ yrs), it is likely that climbing stairs of any size will become very painful or physically impossible within a short period of time. For these special pets, you may want to skip the steps and go right to a ramp to avoid injury and the extra expense of having to buy a ramp soon after purchasing a set of steps. (It also helps to get your senior pet acclimated to using a ramp before significant muscular and/or visual degeneration occurs.)
Indoor Dog Ramps and Cat Ramps are the easiest and gentlest option for elderly, arthritic or disabled pets. They're also great for dogs and cats that have been raised in single-floor homes and never mastered or liked using steps of any kind.
Special consideration should be given to choosing the appropriate ramp length. Bear in mind that the higher you are trying to reach, the longer the ramp needs to be. The ramp length directly affects how steep the ramp slope or incline will be for your pet. For detailed information about choosing the correct ramp for your pet, please read our Indoor Ramps Pet Guide and Outdoor Dog Ramps Guide.
Unless a cat is, or becomes, physically impaired at an early age, cats do not generally require steps or ramps until they approach their senior years and jumping becomes difficult. But when you observe your cat struggling to jump to the bed or to their favorite nap spots, it's time to consider helpful aids.
As a cat owner, you're well aware of the proud, independent nature of felines. As your cat ages, be aware that they may hide the early stages of their physical decline. For that reason, you'll want to pay particular attention when they change their long-held sleeping patterns and start looking for sleeping and hiding places closer to the floor so that they don't have to jump. For example, rather than sleeping on your bed --- as he or she has done for the last 10 years - you may find your senior cat looking for comfortable spots in a closet or underneath your bed. It doesn't mean that they've found "better" spots; more likely they're just hiding the difficulty they're having reaching the old ones.
Carpeted Pet Steps are a great option for cats just entering their senior years (typically between 13-15 years old) and you can expect to get several years of use from them. However, for cats, the "Pet Steps" must be looked at as an interim measure as the day is certain to come when the steps will no longer work for your elderly cat. Just as you will see your cat stop using any stairs or steps in your house, they will ultimately lose the ability to use the carpeted steps as well. By the time a cat reaches 17-19 years old, you can expect that your cat will likely require a ramp to reach a bed or sofa/chair.
With that in mind, some cat owners will prefer to start with steps and then advance to a ramp later on - and others will go directly to ramps when the need first arises. Cats love both the Pet Steps and ramps, so your decision should be based on current age, overall health and ability, life expectancy and the financial impact of purchasing multiple products (steps, then ramps) versus a single solution for life (ramps).
Small to medium size dogs will love the indoor or outdoor steps from the time they have grown large enough to use them safely. A significant benefit of starting your pup on steps when still young is the reduction of neck, back & leg injuries commonly suffered by smaller pets when jumping down from a sofa or bed.
At any age, large, healthy dogs love the outdoor stairs to easily get in and out of pickup trucks, vans, SUVs or automobiles. (They can also be used inside with grooming tables & tubs or high beds.) Indoor carpeted Pet Steps are also ideal for your large, aging dog when arthritis and/or hip issues become a problem. Our carpeted Pet Steps will easily support the weight of even the largest dogs!
Unlike with cats, where you can expect that they will require a ramp at a certain age, a dog's future requirements are more difficult to anticipate. It is not unreasonable to expect that steps may be all that your dog will ever require. They tend to maintain the strength of their rear legs longer than cats do so it's possible that your dog may never require a ramp. It's best to rely on the personal knowledge you have of your own dog, breed, medical history, etc. when making the decision between steps and ramps with your large breed dog.
If you own a teacup or miniature breed dog, you may want to start with a ramp from the time you bring the little one home. Often they are too tiny for indoor steps to ever be considered the best option. (Even tumbles from a 6″ or 7″ step height may be too much for the more fragile, tiny tykes.)
Now that you've given some basic consideration to the question of steps vs. ramps, it is time to look at some of the actual products! You'll find even more product features and information listed on the individual item pages. Indoor and Outdoor Steps are all shown here at: Pet Step and Stairs. Or to view our ramps, visit the separate sections for Indoor Pet Ramps and Outdoor Pet Ramps.
Or, for more detailed information about choosing the correct size / style ramp for your dog or cat, we address the many issues unique to ramps in much greater depth in our How to Choose Outdoor Dog Ramps and How To Choose Indoor Pet Ramps guides.
DISCLAIMER: This document, including graphics and charts, is Copyrighted and exclusive property of Pet Classics LLC. Under no circumstances is this document, or its contents, to be distributed or reproduced, in any manner, without explicit written consent from Pet Classics. -- Pet Classics™ LLC ©2005.