Is your pet struggling to get up the stairs on their own? It might mean your pet needs your help. Having a difficult time on the stairs or refusing to use them all together may be an early sign that your pet is experiencing some mobility loss. Here are a few easy ways that you can help your dog on the stairs.
Why Older Dogs Can Struggle with Stairs
We all know that it’s normal for senior pets to slow down as they age. But did you know that “slowing down” may be due to arthritis or joint pain? If caught in the early stages, many medical conditions are treatable or easily managed. A reluctance to use the stairs on their own, leaning against the wall as the descend, or awkward movements on the stairs may all be signs it’s time to visit the Vet.
Mobility issues and changes in health that can make stairs challenging:
- Arthritis or joint pain
- Hip dysplasia
- Balance issues
- Vision Loss
- Hind leg weakness
- Muscle atrophy
- Neurological conditions
Each of these conditions can impact your pet’s mobility in different ways. If you think your dog is experiencing mobility loss schedule a Vet appointment as soon as possible.
5 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe on the Stairs
Pets use a great deal of strength to navigate up and dog the stairs. As they age, they lose strength and muscle tone in their hind legs which can make using the stairs a challenge. This loss of strength reduces the ability for a pet to push themselves upwards or to safely support their weight coming down the stairs. There are a few simple changes you can make to help your pet safely climb the stairs.
1. Assist Your Dog on the Stairs
Assistive devices like a lifting harness or sling allow you to safely guide and support your pet as they navigate the stairs. Allowing you to control their ascent or descent on the stairs.The right harness for your dog will depend on if they need support in the rear legs, front or both. A rear support leash is perfect for pets that need a little boost in their hind legs. A front lifting harness will help stabilize and guide a dog with weak front limbs. For stabilizing and supporting a dog's whole body the Lift-n-Step harness is the perfect choice.
2. Block Off the Stairs
Gate off the stairs if your pet can not safely navigate the stairs on their own. Safety gates are a great way to limit your pet’s access to areas that are dangerous. If you have a place with just a few steps, you can place a small pet ramp that will help your pet walk up or down on their own.
3. Added Traction and Changes in Paw Care
If your pet is slipping or struggling with paw placement there are a few simple ways you can help them. First, check their paws. Long hair between the paw pads or long toenails can limit a dog’s ability to firmly grip the ground. Keep hair and nails trimmed to improve their traction.
For pet’s who continue to slip and struggle to get their grip walking across the floor or on stairs, it may be time to look at other options. Pet boots with a rubber sole can help provide the grip needed for your dog to step more confidently. Some pet owners will place adhesive backed carpeting to each stair tread for even more traction.
4. Improve Visibility
Lighting can impact a dog’s ability to see, so make sure the staircase is well lit. Pets with deteriorating eyesight can have a hard time seeing the stairs in front of them. Keeping a light on or clearly marking the edge of the stair with tape may make it easier for your pet to see each step.
5. Strengthen the Back Legs with Rehab Therapy
Physiotherapy and physical rehabilitation can help to increase a pet’s strength regardless of a pet’s age. A canine rehab specialist can create a treatment plan tailored to your pet’s needs. Through exercise, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, and other techniques you pet can build muscle tone, increase flexibility, improve balance, and prevent muscle atrophy. Manual therapy (like massage and passive range of motion exercises) can help better enable a pet to safely walk up and down the stairs.