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How to Help Older Dogs Up and Down Stairs?

Senior dog on stairs

Just like aging humans, movement problems are quite common among older dogs. Climbing up and down the stairs is one of the biggest mobility issues that your canine companion may face.

A senior dog who is too weak or too stiff will find it difficult to walk on the stairs. On the other hand, he/she could simply be hesitant to take on this labor-intensive challenge. Keep reading to know how you can help your older dog to move up and down stairs.

Why Older Dogs Struggle with Stairs?

Dogs rely heavily on their hindquarters (back legs) while using stairs. With age, many canines suffer from weakness in their hindquarters that makes it difficult for them to generate adequate power. As a result, they may refuse to move up and down stairs in the old age.

Other than that, fear of injury and pain can also urge your senior pet to avoid stairs. The dogs who have balance issues will always be reluctant to use the stairs, especially while moving down. They know that they can fall and get injured if they lose their balance.

Last but not least, loss of vision is another major reason why older dogs tend to avoid stairs. The deterioration of the eyesight affects their depth perception, and they lose their confidence to use stairs.

How to Help Your Older Dog Walk Up and Down Stairs?

Labrador retriever going up stairs into house

Navigating the stairs can become a massive challenge for your dog as he/she grows old. Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can assist your senior companion to make this journey. Some of the most effective ways to help your older dogs up and down stairs are discussed below.   

Use a Ramp

A gentle incline is always a more convenient alternative (for dogs) than stairs. This is because they don’t need to evaluate the depth of each step of the staircase. Anti-slip ramps (Like these from Amazon) are ideal for canines because they decrease the chances of falling even further. Just make sure that the ramp you buy is long enough to cover every step.

Once you have installed the ramp, you might need to train your pup to use it. If your dog is unsure about using the ramp, use treats and verbal praise to encourage him/her. The canine will slowly (but surely) learn how to use the ramp on his/her own.

Cover the Stairs with Carpet

Closeup of stairs covered in tan carpet

In some cases, simply covering the staircase with a non-slipping surface (carpet) can enhance the dog’s mobility. For example, if the stairs are made of wood or tile, an older dog will most likely find it difficult to get traction on them. The addition of carpet on such stairs will definitely improve his/her grip. You can also carpet other areas of the house if your pup is slipping there.

Shift Your Dog to the Ground Floor

This is an excellent idea for you if your canine is still finding it hard to climb stairs. Either it is due to pain or hesitance, it is highly recommended to move your dog’s belongings (bowls, toys, bed, etc.) on the ground floor. Additionally, you can also get a raised feeder (like this one we found on Amazon) so that your pet can reach his/her dishes easily.

Purchase a Mobility Harness

Sheepdog laying on stair landing

This is an incredible tool to help older dogs move up and down stairs because it directly supports their hindquarters. Simply attach the mobility harness to your pet, and you can provide extra support whenever he/she loses balance. Gingerlead offers the best dog support harnesses because they combine utility with comfort.

Use PawFriction

These specialized rubber granules give a boost to your dog’s mobility by preventing lateral slipping and splay-legging. PawFriction pads are designed by a veterinarian and are completely safe for your pup. You just need to apply these paw pads to your canine’s feet and that’s it. Your senior pet will immediately experience improvement in his/her movements.

How to Increase the Mobility of an Older Dog?

Senior dog laying outdoors in grass

If you want to improve the overall movement of your pup, the following suggestions can be quite useful.

Schedule a Thorough Medical Examination

If your pup is showing signs of distress while moving around, immediately make an appointment with the vet. It is critical to determine the underlying cause of this discomfort to improve the mobility of your dog. Carefully follow the prescribed treatment and observe if the situation is improving or not.

Try Physiotherapy

Golden retriever swimming

This can be a very effective remedy, especially if the dog is suffering from arthritis or back pain. The specialized exercises of physiotherapy relax the stiff parts of your canine’s body to enhance his/her movements. If it’s NOT possible to take your pet for these sessions, you can ask your vet for some exercises that can be done at home.

Use Glucosamine Supplements

Glucosamine supplements (you can find them on Amazon) could be useful to counter the painful effects of arthritis. They help in reducing the inflammation by repairing the damaged cartilage in the joints. However, you should ONLY use these supplements after consulting your vet.

Consider Acupuncture Sessions

Acupuncture needles resting on stone bowl

If the diagnosis says that your dog is stiff, you can take him/her for veterinary acupuncture. In this procedure, the vet inserts needles into specific pressure points to release the tension. This allows the dog to move more freely. Normally, dogs need multiple sessions in a week, and the results will start to appear after 2-3 weeks.

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