How to Choose the Right Dog Stairs for Your Car and Pet

Choosing the right dog stairs for your car and pet can be a crucial decision that impacts the safety, comfort, and health of your furry friend. With the plethora of options available on the market, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect fit that caters to your dog’s specific needs.

The right dog stairs should provide a secure and comfortable way for your pet to access your vehicle, reducing the risk of injuries and strain on their joints and muscles. This is especially important for older dogs, small breeds, and pets with health issues such as arthritis or hip dysplasia.

In this guide, we will explore the essential factors to consider when selecting dog stairs for your car, including the size and height of the stairs, the weight capacity, the materials used, and the overall design and functionality. We will also discuss the importance of training your dog to use the stairs safely and comfortably.

By the end of this guide, you will be equipped with the knowledge and insights needed to make an informed decision that ensures the well-being and happiness of your pet during car rides.

So, let’s dive in and explore the world of dog stairs for cars!


Assess your dog’s physical abilities and size

The first step is evaluating your dog‘s physical condition, size, age and mobility. Consider the following:


  • Does your dog have any mobility limitations or difficulties jumping or climbing? Conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia can make climbing difficult and painful.
  • Senior dogs or puppies may need support getting in/out of vehicles.
  • Larger, heavier dogs will need sturdier ramps or stairs to hold their weight.
  • Small dogs, puppies or dogs with short legs may need narrower, shallower stairs they can easily climb.

Size and weight

  • Measure your dog and their height to determine what size stairs/ramp they need.
  • Weigh your dog or estimate their weight to ensure the product is rated for their weight.
  • Large and giant breed dogs usually need larger, wider, and more reinforced stairs or ramps.
  • Small dogs need smaller stairs and shallow steps they can manage.
  • Consider growth if purchasing a puppy – buy a size larger than their current needs.


  • Puppies have weaker joints and older dogs are prone to arthritis – look for gently sloped ramps.
  • Senior dogs may benefit from additional support like handrails on the stairs.
  • Growing puppies will need a size-adjustable or larger ramp to accommodate growth.

Carefully evaluating your dog’s physical abilities, size, weight and age will ensure you select stairs or a ramp well-suited and safe for their needs. If you are uncertain, consult your veterinarian for guidance.


Measure your vehicle

The size and type of vehicle you have is a key factor when selecting dog stairs or a ramp. You need to ensure the product fits your vehicle properly.

Vehicle height

  • Measure the height from the ground to the floor of your car where your dog will enter/exit.
  • This allows you to select stairs or a ramp with appropriate dimensions for your vehicle.
  • The angle of the ramp should not exceed 30 degrees. Steeper angles are harder for dogs to climb.

Vehicle type

  • For SUVs, minivans and crossover vehicles you need an appropriately sized ramp or stairs.
  • Truck beds often require folding or telescoping ramps with adjustable lengths.
  • Hatchbacks and station wagons typically need shorter ramp lengths than SUVs.

Door openings

  • Measure the door opening where the ramp will be placed – it needs to fit through the opening.
  • Hatchback rear openings are different sizes than side doors.
  • Stairs are often better for smaller openings than ramps.

a black dog with dog stair for car

Storage space

  • Ensure you have room to store the stairs or ramp when not in use.
  • Telescoping and folding ramps require less storage space.

Measuring vehicle dimensions is a vital step before selecting dog car stairs or a ramp. Be sure to measure every access point where your dog may use the product. Accurate measurements allow you to choose the perfect size for your vehicle.


Types of dog car ramps and stairs

There are various types of dog ramps and stairs designed to help dogs access different styles of vehicles. Consider which product type best fits your needs:

Dog car ramps

  • Folding dog ramps – Have hinged sections allowing them to fold into a more compact size for storage and portability.
  • Telescoping dog ramps – Made of sliding sections that retract inward to make the ramp smaller for storage and travel.
  • Truck/SUV ramps – Longer and wider to reach the height of larger vehicles with adjustable length options.
  • Hitch-mounted ramps – Attach to a truck’s hitch for stability. Allows ramps to be stored in truck beds when not in use.

Dog car stairs

  • Folding car stairs – Fold into a smaller size while retaining stair steps. Best for smaller dogs.
  • Rigid car stairs – Sturdy, non-collapsible set of stairs providing stable steps for dogs to climb into vehicles.
  • Stairs with ramp – One side has stairs, the other a gently sloping ramp. Accommodates old or injured dogs.
  • SUV/Truck stairs – Heavy-duty stairs designed for larger vehicles. Often have storage compartments.

Consider your dog’s needs, vehicle type, storage space and portability requirements when deciding between ramp or stair options.


Key features to look for

There are several beneficial features and add-ons to look for when choosing dog car stairs or ramps:

  • Weight capacity – Check if it meets or exceeds your dog’s weight. Look for at least 150 lbs capacity.
  • Traction grips – Textured, non-slip strips help dogs maintain traction on the ramp or stairs.
  • Reflective edges – For visibility and safety at night, glowing strips along the sides are helpful.
  • Handrails – Provide stability for dogs to grasp while climbing the stairs or ramp.
  • Anchors/hooks – Allows securing the product to your vehicle for stability and safety.
  • Lightweight – Important for portability if you’ll be traveling with the stairs or ramp.
  • Protective covers – Cushioning on the surface makes it gentler on the dog’s paws.

Seeking out ramps or stairs with appropriate safety, visibility and traction features will provide your dog the safest access point to your vehicle possible.


Measure proper fit

Before purchasing dog car stairs or a ramp, it’s important to take measurements to ensure proper fit and positioning:

  • Place a foam board, box or temporary ramp in the spot where the product will be installed.
  • Have your dog use the mock ramp/stairs to assess if the height and width seem appropriate.
  • Adjust foam or boxes to find the ideal height and angle of stairs or ramp for your dog.
  • Use a yardstick to measure mockup dimensions when your dog seems most comfortable.
  • Film your dog entering/exiting the car using the mock setup. Review for any issues.
  • Have a second person assist each side of the dog when testing the mock stairs/ramp.

Test with pretend stairs or a ramp before buying to optimize fit and sizing for both your vehicle and dog’s abilities. This will prevent purchasing an unsuitable product.

dog stair for multiple usages


Safety tips

When using dog stairs and ramps for your vehicle, follow these safety tips:

  • Only use on level, stable ground. Never on uneven or soft surfaces.
  • Have two people present – one to guide/steady your dog on the stairs or ramp.
  • Place ramps or stairs firmly against the vehicle with maximum contact to avoid slipping.
  • Check the product periodically for damage or instability. Discontinue use if any noted.
  • Avoid using when wet – the surface can become slippery. Always wipe dry before use.
  • Provide ample praise and treats for your dog the first few times you use new stairs or ramps.
  • Never leave a dog unattended on the stairs or ramp. Always supervise use.

With patience, praise and precautions, dog car stairs and ramps can greatly improve your dog’s safe access and enjoyment of your vehicle. Properly introducing and supervising their use is imperative.


Top 6 dog car ramps and stairs

Scale per cani PetSteps

  • Folds conveniently for easy storage and transport.
  • Sturdy construction supports up to 176 lbs.
  • Anti-slip surface and safety features for secure climbing.

PetSafe Solvit Deluxe Telescoping Pet Ramp

  • Telescopes from 39″-72″ for compact storage.
  • Lightweight yet supports up to 400 lbs.
  • High traction surface and side rails for stability.

Pet Gear Tri-Fold Pet Ramp

  • Easy to set up tri-fold design.
  • Supports up to 200 lbs.
  • High visibility reflective strips for safety.

Petmaker Foldable Pet Stairs

  • Four stairs can support 120 lbs.
  • Folds for storage and travel.
  • Ideal for small dogs and cats.

Solvit Ultralite Bi-Fold Pet Ramp

  • The bi-fold ramp extends up to 93 inches.
  • Lightweight (10 lbs) with a high traction walk surface.
  • Supports pets up to 120 lbs.

PetSTEP Original Folding Pet Ramp

  • True split-fold design is ultra-portable.
  • High visibility safety stripes.
  • Holds up to 500 lbs.

This covers the key considerations, features, and top products to help select the ideal dog car stairs or ramp for your pet and vehicle. Proper measuring, fitting and use will ensure safe travels and happy excursions with your dog.



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