by Mary Beth Magee
Many of our beloved pets need a little help getting into their favorite chair or lap. Pet stairs and ramps provide a means for pets to reach places that might otherwise prove inaccessible, helping you and your animal companion to stay connected. Is your pet ready for a set of stairs? Are you? Here's how to know if the time is right to buy them.
Your little dog can't jump very high: Small dogs are social creatures, and they benefit from being able to join their humans at will. Pet stairs allow them to reach a bed or sofa without the danger of injury from a misjudged leap. As an owner, you'll gain the companionship of your pet without having to lift him repeatedly. Choose steps of appropriate riser size for a smaller animal. Stationary steps help an animal form a routine. The stairs are always there -- in the same place and same format -- whenever your pet approaches. Smaller pets may require several levels.
Your aging pet can't get to his old favorite spots: Pets that are accustomed to climbing or leaping onto furniture may begin to have difficulty doing so as they get older. Arthritis and other changes in the animal's body, such as excess weight or joint problems, may limit an animal's agility. Provide pet stairs for aging pets to improve the quality of life they experience and to give them greater independence. Some pet stairs are covered with foam to make them comfortable on aging joints.
Your pet has an injury: Even the most agile pet may lose some of his range temporarily due to injury or a medical procedure. Pet stairs allow injured or healing animals to retain mobility while lessening the likelihood of further damage happening to them as they jump. Provide your pet with stairs to keep him in normal patterns of behavior as he heals. Portable pet stairs are good for intermittent or temporary use.
Your large pet might damage furniture if he jumps on it: Larger animals are just as sociable as smaller ones; however, the weight of a large animal leaping onto a couch or a chair may be detrimental to your furniture. Providing stairs to allow the animal to ascend with less impact will help protect your furniture over time. A single step may be enough for a larger pet to reach the couch or enter the car.
You're not able to lift your pets like you used to: Owners age just as pets do, and if age prevents you from assisting your pet, then both of you lose. Anything that prevents you from lifting your pet to his usual place alongside his human can also cause an animal to suffer. Pet stairs let you continue to share your pet's company, even though you may not be able to lift the animal yourself.