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One of the best dog purchases that I’ve made is our dog ramp. The only issue I have with it is that I didn’t buy it sooner. It’s been a blessing safely getting Sherman and Leroy in and out of the car over the last few years. It’s a lot easier on their joints and it’s put less strain on my aging back and knees.
While we are perfectly content with our ramp, they don’t work for every dog.
Dog steps are sometimes a better option for dogs that are nervous using a ramp so, based off the feedback from the big dog community, we created a list of the most popular dog steps and dog ramps that big dog owners use to safely get their dogs in and out of the car.
Pet Loader. Pet Loader makes a variety of dog steps that fold down.
The multiple steps make for a low angle of entry which may help skittish dogs feel more comfortable.
They have 3 steps, 4 steps, and 5 steps. They also come in many different sizes.
The Pet Loader website recommends and XL for “Great Breeds” (150-250 pounds) such as Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Saint Bernards. The XL Pet Loader is 18″ wide. The 3 step, which is good for getting up on couches, back seats and beds weighs 20 pounds.
The 4 step, which rises 20″-30″ inches high weighs 29 pounds and the 5 step, which 29′-40″ inches weigh 39 pounds. The weight is definitely something to consider if you will be loading and unloading it often but the Pet Loader also comes in a version that has wheels.
The Pet Loader Light is for dogs that are 20-150 pounds and it is 16 inches wide.
Twistep®. The Heninger PortablePET Twistep® attaches to the hitch on your truck or SUV.
This product allows easy access for canines or humans as it twists out for use and twists under the vehicle during transport.
The platform measures 22” wide by 19” deep. Twistep® has a full-size platform and a special non-skid surface designed especially with dogs in mind.
Twistep holds up to 400 pounds when using a Class III hitch – 2″ receiver and comes with a corrosion-resistant coating and a 2-year warranty. What’s nice about this product is you don’t have to worry about storing it or moving it around because it simply slides under your vehicle.
Solvit PupSTEP HitchSTEP. The HitchSTEP attaches to the hitch on your truck or SUV and has a patent- pending two-step design.
The HitchSTEP installs in any 2” vehicle hitch receiver and can be adjusted to fit the heights of different vehicles, including pickup. An adapter for 1.25” hitch receiver is also sold separately.
The dog steps are 18 inches wide and 10 inches deep and the vertical space between steps is 8 inches. The vehicle’s liftgate can still be opened with the steps in the stowed position, and steps can be easily removed for storage.
The HitchSTEP’s steel construction, weighing in at 20 pounds, is strong enough to hold 200 pounds.
Solvit XL Telescoping Ramp. The Solvit XL Telescoping Ramp is the ramp that we’ve had for almost 3 years now.
The ramp is 20 inches wide and extends from 48 inches to 87 inches long. This product weighs 18 pounds and supports over 300 pounds of weight. High-traction walking surface gives pets a sure footing Ultra-stiff design utilizes four rubber feet to keep the ramp stable while in use.
You can check out the full review that we did on this here. I use this ramp for rear entry into our SUV and for side entry into our truck.
Pet Loader H2O. Pet Loader also makes a step for boats and swimming pools.
The majority of swim platforms rest 4 inches above the water surface. The Pet Loader H2O is designed for this height.
The bottom platform has 15 inches of tread depth. The step height from the base to the middle step is 7 inches which the pet will use to step onto your boat.
From the middle step to the swim platform, top step is approximately 13 inches. The middle step will rest at the water’s edge and this positions the bottom platform right where the dog’s paws are below the water for boarding boats safely and without panic.
Are dog steps or a ramp really necessary for your big dog?
That’s up for you to decide but keep in mind that for large breed puppies, having an easy way for them to get in and out of the car puts less stress on their fast growing joints and you risk fewer injuries.
For a senior large breed dog, it will take a lot of pressure off of their old bones and joints. Jumping down on a hard surface can be painful and we’ve heard of many big dogs that have suffered injuries from doing that.
Things to consider before purchasing a ramp or steps:
Some dogs will not take to a ramp as easily as steps which is why it’s always a good idea to get them used to a ramp when they’re puppies.
Senior dogs or dogs with orthopedic problems may not be able to do steps easily so a ramp may be better and easier for them. This is why we use a ramp for Sherman and Leroy.
*Please note, I only have experience using the Solvit XL Telescoping Ramp. The other products listed are based on feedback provided by big dog owners in our community.