Aging dogs are like aging humans– they begin to have mobility problems. The movement that was once effortless for an old dog can be challenging and much more labor intensive. These issues with older dogs often manifest as stumbles, unsteadiness, and hesitance. One of the most common issues in senior dogs, however, is moving upstairs.
Though it may be distressing to witness your dog seeming too stiff or too weak to climb stairs, there are solutions to this mobility issue that improve your aging dog’s quality of life.
Why Older Dogs Can Struggle With Steps
As you can imagine, dogs rely a great deal on their back legs to be able to navigate stairs. Weakness in the hindquarters of your pet makes it much more difficult for them to get adequate power to propel them upwards. If your dog feels they don’t have enough strength in their back end, they may balk or refuse the stairs entirely.
Additionally, movement down steps can also be challenging for older dogs. Dogs that struggle with balance issues can be especially nervous about heading downstairs because they know they can take a tumble head first if they lose their balance and fall.
The best way to combat weakness in your dog’s hindquarters is by taking active steps to strengthen their back end.
Suggestions for Strengthening the Hindquarters
Taking the right steps to help your dog regain strength in their back end is largely dependent on the cause of the weakness. A dog whose hindquarters are affected by medication might need something different than a dog whose hindquarters have simply been weakened with age.
If medication is the cause of weakness, talk to your vet about whether it’s possible to try an alternate drug or at least decrease the dosage. Otherwise, your dog’s condition is worth considering some canine physiotherapy. A pet physiotherapist may have your dog do strengthening exercises in-office or show you some exercises that can be done at home.
With aging, it’s important to note that weakness in the hindquarters may not completely go away despite efforts to strengthen them. That’s why you as a senior dog owner should consider making supplemental adjustments around the home to improve your dog’s mobility and quality of life.
At-Home Adjustments for Your Dog
At some point, you may have to accept that your dog is no longer able to manage stairs. You could opt to carry your dog up and down stairs, or even lift them into and out of your car, but these solutions are cumbersome– for the both of you.
Here are some reasonable adjustments to make around your home to make movement easier for your dog:
● Put food and water bowls, beds, toys, etc. all on the same level of your home to keep stair usage to a minimum.
● Cover stairs in carpeting. Sometimes simply covering the surfaces in your house with more traction can greatly help your dog’s mobility. Minimize slipping by covering not just your steps but all slippery surfaces in your home that your dog walks on.
● Get a ramp or ramps to assist with movement to elevated levels. A gentle incline is easier for elderly dogs to move on than a staircase. Ramps can be handy for getting in and out of a vehicle, moving up steps, or even getting onto a bed or couch. Anti-slip ramps are ideal.
● Consider a mobility harness to help steady your larger dog when they need it. This tool allows you to lend strength to your dog’s hindquarters when they lose balance and need help, especially when climbing stairs or ramps.
● Get PawFriction to prevent your dog from sliding. Designed by a veterinarian, PawFriction enhances your dog’s downward leg force by preventing lateral slipping and splay-legging increasing mobility and confidence. By applying the safe glue and rubber granules, your pet can immediately experience improved mobility– particularly senior dogs and dogs with special needs.
Don’t let your dog’s compromised mobility threaten their quality of life. Take action to both strengthen your dog’s hindquarters and make adjustments around the home to improve their ease of movement.
For more questions about getting your dog up the stairs or navigating your home safely, contact PawFriction.
I have a car ramp for my elderly dog but i am wanting to get her upstairs in my house at night and down again in the morning as she will not sleep downstairs alone. Are you able to offer any suggestions. I have looked into stairlifts but these are for humans and still provide a problem getting on and off them. I have a carpenter that is able to make a ramp for my dog to go up and down the 12 stairs and would fit it securely and also use anti slip gripers but i am concerned that the incline might be too steep and i would not want to incur injury although i could combine this with a mobility harness. She is a collie x lab and too heavy for me to carry upstairs. Many Thanks ,Chrissie
I think a ramp is your best chance; I’m not super worried about the steepness but you would need to make it very non-slip.
We have the same issue with an older Aussie. I’m worried about how steep it is. Did you have a ramp built? How wide? I hat did you line it with?
I am needing the same thing for 12-15 stairs. This has been hard. Thinking about getting a carpenter to make a carpeted ramp.
We just made a diy carpet covered ramp for our stairs. 9 steps in 2.7m. The slope was much to steep for our dogs to manage. We remade it with rubber covering. Same problem. Any ramp that matches the incline of the stairs will be too steep for your doggie. Ours tried very hard to get the treats we were offering a bit up the ramp, but just kept sliding. Imagine a child trying to climb a slide without side rails to grab.
Hope this “helps” i.e. saves you from spending hundreds of dollars on a non-solution.