The easiest and safest way for your dog to access your SUV is with the use of a dog ramp. In this blog, we’ll explain why you should be using a dog ramp with your SUV as well as the features you should look out for to ensure you purchase the best dog ramp for both your vehicles and your pup.
Why Use a Dog Ramp With Your SUV?
You might be wondering if your dog even needs a ramp if they are still able to jump into your SUV on their own. Maybe you’ve noticed that your dog has begun to hesitate or even struggle to get in and out. Or perhaps your pup has never been able to access your SUV without your help. There are many reasons why a dog, regardless of their size or mobility level, should use a dog ramp when entering and exiting vehicles. We’ve outlined the main reasons below:
Regardless of your dog’s age or ability levels, repetitive jumping puts a strain on your dog’s joints. While your dog may seem like they’re able to jump in and out of your SUV with ease, the long-term effects could damage your dog’s joints and cause mobility issues down the line. By using a dog ramp, your pup can gently walk up and down from the SUV so no extra strain is put on their joints.
As dogs get older, their mobility levels can start to decrease. It is also common for older dogs to experience arthritis, hip dysplasia, or spine issues that make it more difficult for them to move around. A dog ramp will make your SUV much more accessible to your pup, for they won’t have to jump or strain themselves. This is especially important as older dogs will likely require more vet visits, and they’ll need a safe and reliable way of getting into the car.
Whether your dog is older, smaller, or experiences mobility issues, a dog ramp creates a safe and low-stress way of accessing your SUV. Even if your dog is completely able to jump into your car, a dog ramp not only prevents joint damage from repetitive jumping but also prevents potential injuries. For example, if your dog jumps and misses the edge of the seat, they could fall backward. Additionally, if your dog is not able to jump into your SUV on their own but they’re just small enough to be lifted, this can cause back strain in the human lifting them that can worsen over time.
Features You Should Look for in a Dog Ramp
Now that you’ve learned why your dog should be using a ramp to get in and out of your SUV, it’s time to take a look at some of the key features your dog ramp should possess. These features contribute to the safety, comfort, and usage of the ramp to ensure that both you and your dog have a positive experience.
Length & Width
The length and width of a dog ramp matter for both your SUV and your dog. Taller SUVs will require longer ramps to ensure the incline is not too steep for your dog. Older dogs or dogs that struggle with mobility issues will benefit most from a longer ramp with a very gentle slope, even on SUVs that aren’t on the taller end of the spectrum.
When it comes to the width of the dog ramp, you’ll find that most on the market are around 15” wide. If you have a large breed dog, this width might seem a bit narrow. However, if you’ve ever seen your dog’s paw prints in the snow, you’ll notice that dogs walk in a line and not the full width of their bodies. Even so, bigger dogs, older dogs, and dogs that are cautious about trying new things will likely prefer a wider ramp.
Weight CapacityAs you can probably expect, the dog ramp you use with your SUV must be able to fully support your pup’s weight. This is especially important if you have a large dog that may tend to run up and down the ramp, putting additional pressure on it.
The average weight capacity of dog ramps greatly varies from 150 to 500 lbs. Firstly, it’s important to mention that this capacity refers to weight being spread between four legs, not two. This means that humans should not be walking on the ramp. If you have a smaller dog that weighs about 50 lbs, it’s not a question that most dog ramps on the market will be able to safely support them. But if you have an extra large breed dog like an English Mastiff that can weigh as much as 200 lbs, you’ll need to be sure that your dog ramp’s weight capacity generously exceeds that for optimal safety.
Another essential safety consideration for your dog ramp is a non-slip surface. Not only will the ramp need to sustain secure footing for your dog’s paws, but it will also need to create traction in numerous weather conditions since it will be used outdoors with your SUV. While the grit surface of some dog ramps may seem like it can create traction when dry, it isn’t as useful if rain, mud, or snow are thrown into the mix. Plus, it is completely flat and more difficult for your dog to walk on at an incline with their claws usually slipping on the material. The surface of your dog ramp should create traction in various weather conditions, as well as be comfortable for your dog to walk on
Side or Rear Door EntryThink about how your dog will be entering your SUV with the ramp. Will it be through the hatch in the back or one of the side doors? Perhaps both? While most dog ramps are suitable for rear door entry, many aren’t designed for side entry in mind. If you want to use your dog ramp through the side door of your SUV, it is important to take a few measurements to make sure the ramp will fit. Measure the height from the ground to the top of the seat. The taller the seat, the longer the ramp should be. You should also measure the width of both the door opening and the seat to ensure that the ramp can fit through the doorway and rest upon the seat.
Another factor to consider if using the dog ramp for side door entry is if the ramp has any available accessories to help stabilize the ramp through the side doors. Based on the design of your SUV, the width of your seat may not extend as far as the width of the ramp, leaving a corner of the ramp hanging off the seat. An add-on accessory like a stabilizing strap can be a must-have if you’re planning to use your dog ramp for side door entry.
Ease of Use
The final key feature you should consider is how user-friendly your dog ramp is. It should be easy and reliable to deploy and stow. A ramp that is too bulky can be difficult to carry and deploy, making it obstructive to use with your SUV and pup. Since you’ll be keeping it in your SUV to assist on all your adventures, the ramp also needs to have a storage size that isn’t too large for your vehicle.
The Best Dog Ramp for SUVs
You’ll notice that when searching for a dog ramp for SUVs, the ramps can be separated into two types: telescoping ramps and folding ramps. You know what important features your dog ramp should have, so does having a telescoping ramp versus a folding ramp make a difference? It does! Let us elaborate below so you can select the perfect dog ramp for your perfect pup.
Telescoping dog ramps, which typically consist of three nesting pieces that slide out to form the length of the ramp, can have a lot of the important features we mentioned, but they also fall flat in many ways.
Length and Width ✅
With a variety of telescoping dog ramps on the market, you’ll likely find one that is both long and wide enough for your pup.
Weight Capacity ⚠️
In general, telescoping dog ramps do not have as high of a weight capacity as folding dog ramps. This is due to the construction that requires the ramp pieces to be thin enough to slide into each other with multiple connecting points. Think of it like the metal door slides on your dresser drawer. It seems pretty strong when it’s inside the dresser, but it cannot support a ton of weight once fully extended. For this reason, we’d recommend telescoping dog ramps to be used for small to medium-sized dogs only.
Another important note is to ensure that each section of the ramp is fully extended and locked into place for safe usage. If not, the ramp could collapse into itself and fall while your dog is on it.
Non-Slip Surface ❌
Another drawback of the telescoping ramp pieces is that the surface needs to be flat in order to nest into each other for storage. This means that telescoping ramps often have a grit or comparable surface that does not provide much traction and is not comfortable on paws.
Side or Rear Door Entry ❌
While the length of the ramp may be suitable through the side door of your SUV, telescoping ramps simply do not have add-on accessories available to properly stabilize the ramp for side entry. The top of the ramp will be left hanging off the seat which may cause the ramp to tip and injure your dog.
Ease of Use ⚠️
A benefit of telescoping dog ramps is that they don’t take up too much space when stored because the ramp slides down to a third of the length. However, the sliding movement of the ramp can easily be jammed by dirt, sand, or other debris, which you’ll likely encounter when adventuring with your dog outside. This can make stowing the ramp an aggravating process. Depending upon the design, sliding ramps can also pinch your fingers, which isn’t very pleasant!
On the other paw, folding dog ramps like the PetStep ramp meet all of the key features that make a dog ramp ideal for you, your pup, and your SUV.
Length and Width ✅
With numerous length and width combinations available for folding dog ramps on the market today, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one to suit your pup and SUV. The PetStep ramp is one of the widest and longest on the market, making it extra comfortable for your pup, and would be ideal for aging dogs and dogs that struggle with mobility.
Weight Capacity ✅
Folding ramps are generally much thicker and have only one strong hinge point compared to telescoping ramps, giving them a larger weight capacity. The PetStep ramp’s weight capacity is 500 lbs (pets only!) so it can safely support dogs of any breed or size.
Non-Slip Surface ✅
While some folding ramps have grit surfaces like most telescoping ramps, folding dog ramps generally have better non-slip surface options. The exclusive non-slip rubberized surface of the PetStep ramp allows dogs to naturally dig into the material when walking and creates traction in any weather condition, making it perfect for year-round trips and adventures.
Side or Rear Door Entry ✅
Folding dog ramps can be used through both the rear and side doors of your SUV. Unlike telescoping ramps, folding pet ramps have add-on accessories that support the ramp to make side door entry safe for your pup. The PetStep Side Door Entry Dog Ramp Kit includes both the PetStep ramp and the side entry support strap to keep the ramp steady on the seat while your dog is using it.
Ease of Use ✅Lastly, the hinge mechanism for folding dog ramps is far more reliable and easier to use than telescoping ramps. The PetStep ramp folds in half and is secured with a spring for easy storage in your SUV. Once your pup is ready to get in or out, simply release the spring and unfold the ramp.
Your Adventures are Now Pup-Friendly!
At PetStep, we want you and your pup to be able to make the best memories together. That includes making it safe and easy to take adventures in your SUV. We designed the PetStep ramp so you and your dog won’t have to worry about the logistics of getting in and out of the car so you can just focus on having fun. If you have any questions about the PetStep ramp or how it’ll work in your SUV, just give one of our PetStep Pup Ambassadors a call at 877-272-1707 or send us a message in the chatbox to the right and we’ll be more than happy to assist you. Here’s to the next adventure!