Are Stairs Hazardous for Dogs? Reasons for Risk and Tips to Reduce it

Are your furry companions able to confidently climb and descend stairs? Have you observed them feeling nervous or reluctant to use the stairs initially? As a pet owner, have you ever felt apprehensive about letting your dog use stairs, especially after witnessing them engage in risky behavior on them? In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why stairs can pose a threat to dogs and recommend safety measures for situations where stairs cannot be circumvented.

✨ Can Dogs Climb Stairs?

For pet owners who reside in multi-level buildings, the question of whether or not dogs can use stairs is a common concern. However, it’s important to note that frequent use of stairs may not be advisable for your furry friend. This is particularly applicable when it comes to stairs located within the home, as they often have tall steps and narrow widths that may not be conducive to four-legged walking.

✨ Are Canines Hazardous on Stairs?

❂ Joint and Muscle Strain

To begin with, dogs are not particularly skilled at navigating stairs. Steps with narrow widths and consecutive steps force dogs to adopt an awkward posture when ascending and descending, which puts significant stress on their joints and muscles. The act of descending each step with their heavy upper body pointing downwards can cause severe tension and harm to their spinal column. Even if they seem capable of climbing up and down without difficulty, repeated exposure increases the likelihood of developing intervertebral disc herniation, which in dogs can result in paralysis of the lower limbs.

❂ Risk of Tumbling

The most common time for dogs to fall down the stairs is when they are descending and trying to maintain a forward-leaning posture, which is challenging for them to maintain balance. This can be both harmful and frightening for the dog. Even if dogs have no trouble climbing the stairs, many of them are afraid to come down.

❂ Canines with Unique Requirements

When traveling up and down the stairs, older dogs with weakened joints and muscles, as well as those with a long torso and short legs, such as Dachshunds and Corgis, require extra vigilance. Even if they are accustomed to climbing stairs when they were young, they may be at risk of falling or stumbling as they age. If your dog is in their golden years, it is crucial to take precautions to prevent them from climbing stairs when you are not present. Many owners take their pets to the vet after they fall down the stairs while they are home alone. Stairs can pose a risk to short-legged breeds like Dachshunds. If the stairs are too high for your dog’s leg length, they may have to bend their bodies to navigate them, which puts immense pressure on their spine and muscles.

✨ When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention for Your Dog

❂ Signs of Herniated Disc

A herniated intervertebral disc in dogs can cause discomfort and even paralysis. Some signs to watch out for include flinching when their back is touched, a change in their gait, reluctance to go for walks or climb stairs, and sensitivity when being picked up. If the herniated disc is pressing on the spinal cord, there is a high risk of lower limb paralysis and it may not recover without treatment. Early detection and therapy are crucial, so if you notice any unusual symptoms, take your dog to the hospital without delay. Older dogs who are becoming less active or want to be carried more often may be experiencing back pain. If you suspect anything is wrong, consult with a veterinarian immediately.

❂ Indicators of a Fracture

Dogs are surprisingly prone to fractures, which can be difficult to detect if you are not present. Falls from furniture or improper landings are common causes of fractures. However, dogs have a tendency to continue moving even if they are in pain, and they are also very patient animals. When an X-ray is taken at the hospital, it is not uncommon to find old fracture scars that the owner was unaware of. If your dog has a fracture, you may notice signs such as dragging a leg, favoring it, licking the affected area, and being sensitive when picked up. Some symptoms may be similar to those of a herniated disc, so if you suspect anything is wrong, take your dog to the hospital without delay. Even if there are no unusual symptoms, if you know your dog has fallen down the steps, it is best to seek medical attention right away.

✨ Preventing Canines from Navigating Stairs

It has been determined that limiting a dog’s use of stairs is ideal. But what should one do if stairs are a part of their daily routine?

If you have stairs in your home, installing gates at the top and bottom of the staircase is a straightforward solution to avoid any potential accidents. These gates come in a range of styles, functions, and heights, not just for pets but also for infants. Keeping your dog confined to one floor and not allowing them to constantly go back and forth between the two is also a smart idea. Building a fence or designated area for your dog to stay while you’re away can help with this.

❂ Training

Carrying your dog up and down the stairs is the ideal solution, but not always feasible if they are too large to lift. In some rare cases, it may be necessary for the dog to navigate the steps themselves. In that situation, it’s important to train them to do so without fear.

❂ Training Method

Always use a leash during training and make sure to go up and down the stairs at the same pace as your dog. Start with low stairs, such as outdoor steps, that the dog can easily traverse without building up speed. Once they are comfortable, challenge them to climb the indoor staircase. The goal is to give your dog a sense of security. The training is complete when your dog can confidently go up and down the stairs.

❂ Non-slip Mats

If your dog must use stairs, such as in the house or at the entryway, using non-slip mats can prevent any falls or accidents. Some owners have created or purchased ramps for their pets, as well as renovated exterior stairs leading to the front door. You may find inspiration by checking out the stylish, handmade ramps featured on some pet owners’ blogs or social media accounts.

❂ Ramps are better than Steps

Whenever possible, opt for ramps instead of steps to reduce stress on your dog’s legs and lower the risk of injury or intervertebral disc herniation. If this is not an option, keep the steps as minimal as possible. Step stairs available in stores can be useful in spaces where installing ramps is challenging due to limited space.

❂ Avoiding Stairs from the Start

If your dog is not familiar with stairs, it’s best to not introduce them. Dogs are rarely excited to see stairs for the first time and confidently go up and down. More often than not, they are frightened and confused. In other words, ignorance is bliss until taught otherwise.

✨ Conclusion

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to provide a safe environment for your furry friend. Carrying your dog up and down the stairs is one solution, but as they age and become too heavy to lift, alternative strategies should be considered.

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