As the summer approaches many people head for the beach or swimming pool.
Unfortunately, we often cannot take our furry friends to the beach so finding a swimming pool is the best option for them to join in the fun.
They are also a great solution, to help keep your dog cooler, in the high temperatures that the summer months can bring!
However, while many swimming pools are built into the ground, there are also types which are constructed above the ground.
For a dog to get in and out of an above ground swimming pool without any help is virtually impossible.
Certainly pups, small breed dogs and older dog will not be able to jump in.
Why Your Dog Needs a Ramp or Steps for Above Ground Pools
If a dog manages to get into a pool and cannot get out, or you are not there to help, your pooch will tire and drown.
To make sure that your dog can safely get in and out of an above ground swimming pool you should consider getting either a ramp or steps. You may even consider getting a combination.
Ramps and stairs for getting into above ground pools are the same as those you would use elsewhere, such as to get onto the sofa.
The same principles apply with steps up into an above ground pool – the ramp needs to be sturdy, solid, secure, wide enough and non-slip.
What Types of Dog Ramps/Steps are There for Above Ground Pools
Ramps are divided into two groups. Both inclined ramps and steps have their uses, and both suit certain doggie requirements. What you buy will depend on your dog and what you will use it for.
1) SolidDog Ramps or Inclined Benches
Ramps are a great idea for helping dogs get on and out of above ground swimming pools.
Often the ramp will be able to extend several feet, so the slope is gentler.
Ramps can also be flattened for easy storage after a day in the pool.
2) Dog Steps and Ladders
Steps and ladders are the same as the stairs we would have in our own houses except that they are shorter, with perhaps only two or three steps.
The advantage of steps is that they are more compact than ramps, so you won’t trip over them when they are placed at the end of the bed or sofa.
Things to Consider When Buying Both Types
It is very important that whatever you buy is sturdy. If you think about an older person sitting down or getting up from an unsteady surface, you will see that they can be even more unsteady if things wobble.
Just so with a ramp or steps, your dog will not be happy walking up either a ramp or stairs if they wobble.
He will simply refuse to go up. So, make sure that the device is steady and solid, does not tip up or move.
Look for lightness. If the ramp or stairs are lightweight and easy to move, you are more likely to use it and if what you have is heavy and cumbersome, you will more than likely leave it unused.
If this happens your pooch may injure himself by trying to jump up somewhere. Look for something that you can move around with ease.
Fold up is good. Most of us need to think of storage space, and ramps can take up a lot of room, as can stairs, so if possible, get something that can fold up or collapse down to something manageable.
If you get a ramp for the car, make sure that it can fit behind the seat. This will mean that you still have the use of all the other area of the car.
Pros and Cons of Dog Stairs and Ramps
It may be hard to decide which is better for your dog. Both ramps and stairs have good points as well as disadvantages.
Before you buy either you should ask yourself what you will be using it for, and just how much help your pooch needs.
To get Onto the Bed
Both would work here, although stairs take up less room than a ramp.
To have a ramp the same length as the stairs would mean a very steep slope which not all dogs will gladly walk up.
Stairs tend to cost less than ramps, although a ramp can easily be pushed under the bed while stairs need to be stored elsewhere and take up more room.
To get Into the Car
Ideally a ramp works better here because it can be folded and placed behind the back seat, whereas stairs cannot normally be collapsed.
One thing to watch for with a ramp is that it may be very heavy. If you cannot lift it, you are unlikely to use it for your pooch, so make sure the ramp is a lightweight one.
Consider Your Pooch’s Size
A large dog may cope better with stairs than a narrow ramp.
A large dog will be reluctant to use a ramp that in narrow or has too much of an incline.
Smaller dogs will also not want to climb up a heavily inclined ramp, neither will they want to use very steep and high stairs.
The ideal incline for a ramp in between 18 – 20 degrees.
Where Else Might you Need Dog Ramps?
Most of us have watched an older person battling to get out of a car, maybe some of us even battle ourselves to do this. As our dogs age they have the same problems with mobility.
As young pups and adult dogs getting in and out of the car may have seemed easy, but as they get older this becomes more of a battle for them.
Even if your pooch is a smaller breed there may be a call for a ramp to help them get into the car or even up onto the bed.
Often, a young pup should not be encouraged to leap in and out of the car in case they injure themselves.
Certainly, if you have a dog who is recovering from any surgery you will want to stop any jumping around, so having an alternative method of getting to a higher place is worth thinking about.
Often – as with humans – the thought of having a ramp for an older dog may seem like accepting that your pet is getting old.
Most people do not like the idea of growing old themselves, without their dog aging as well!
This is simply a case of denial in accepting the fact that everything gets old. You may find that once you have had a ramp in place you wonder why you ever did without it!
When are Ramps and Stairs Necessary?
If you notice that your dog is starting to have trouble getting up to places he would normally leap on like your bed then it may be time to consider making things a little easier for him.
If your dog seems to hesitate or line up for a bit before launching towards the sofa or bed, it may be time.
Dogs that have been injured or are recovering from surgery should not be jumping up onto things.
Certainly, jumping up into the car can hurt a post-operative dog. If your pooch has any sort of disability which makes moving difficult, then think about some assistance.
Some dogs are not supposed to jump up very high. Dogs like Great Danes and Bernese Mountain Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Labradors or any breed with a risk of joint injuries should be using a ramp up to the car.
Dogs who have neurological problems which affect their mobility do not have enough strength in their back legs to handle jumping up and should have help.
Any dog who has had a leg amputated will need assistance to get up higher. They simply cannot support and balance themselves going up or – worse – coming down out of a car.
There is a great possibility of injuring the spine if they land at an awkward angle.
Having an alternative to simply lifting your dog up and into the car is important particularly if your large dog were to get injured.
The question to ask is could you lift your pooch by yourself up and into the car. If the answer is no, then you should think about a ramp or set of stairs.
Finally, it might just be a necessity! This is the most probable reason for having a dog ramp for above ground swimming pools, as without one, they’re unable to get into the pool!
Top 4 Best Dog Pool Ramps for Above Ground Pools
1) Solvit Deluxe Telescoping Pet Ramp
The ramp can hold up to 400 pounds so will support even the biggest dog.
What I like about this ramp is that the surface is non-slip and perfect for older dogs or even smaller ones who like to run up and down things. The non-slip topping makes it great even when it is raining.
You will see that the ramp comes with guide rails on the sides so older dogs will feel more secure using it.
The ramp is adjustable so can be extended up to a massive 72 inches. This also means that the incline can be far shallower as you extend the ramp.
The ramp is designed for pets only so better not to let the kiddies play on it!
2) Pet Gear Free-Standing Extra Wide Carpeted Pet Ramp, Chocolate
The surface is carpeted with non-slip fabric so will work well in rainy weather.
What I like about this ramp is that it folds up so neatly, you can store it behind a door or under a bed. It will also fit into the trunk of a car.
The ramp is heavy duty and looks sturdy, with slightly raised edges for extra security.
Another thing that is very good about this ramp is that it is pressure activated paws will easily grip the ramp as they walk up and down.
3) Gamma Skamper Ramp Regular Pool Ramp for Pets
What I like about this ramp is that it can also be used as a safe escape if your dog accidentally falls into the pool. The ramp will float, and the rubber grips provide enough traction for a dog to climb back on.
You will find that the ramp is chemical and UV resistant so there will be no yellowing or cracking as the summer progresses.
Its easy to install the ramp and comes with all you need. Simply snap the ramp components together and you are all ready to go.
The ramp is safe for use in either concrete or vinyl pools.
4) Gen7Pets Natural-Step Pet Ramp
The ends have durable rubber grippers to keep the ramp stable.
The maximum weight that the ramp can safely hold is 200 pounds. It folds flat for easy storage and automatically locks closed.
The ramp can be used for heights of up to 2 feet from the ground.
Top 4 Best Dog Pool Steps & Stairs for Above Ground Pools
1) Confer Staircase Style Above Ground Pool Steps
The steps can safely take up to 400 pounds in weight and be placed in water that is up to 32 inches deep.
You need to place some extra weight in the steps to keep them from floating up. Normally sand is recommended for this.
The steps are easy to assemble and can be ready in no time at all. If you want a solid set of steps, then these are worth considering.
2) Above Ground Swimming Pool Step to Deck
The steps need to be assembled and them weighted down so they do not float in the pool. You can do this with sand.
The steps are 32 inches wide can not narrow at all. They can handle a depth of 32 inches.
3) BiltMor Above Ground Step and Ladder System
What I like about these steps is that they are so well made and solid. You will see that they are made of polyethylene which does not need any cleaning or maintaining. The steps are designed to fit above -ground pools.
The steps are 21 inches wide and have 11 Inch steps and can hold up to 350 pounds safely.
You will need to fill the steps with sand to weight them down. The plastic does not crack or yellow and will be fine for use for several years. In fact, some reviews have stated that the steps have lasted ten years!
For high-quality, I don’t think you can beat these steps.
4) Solvit PupSTEP Plus Dog Stairs
The steps are super lightweight at just 5 pounds for the large set and 9 pounds for the extra-large set.
These steps are designed for small to medium dogs although they will take up to 120 pounds in weight.
The steps don’t need any assembly either, so once you have them you are good to go.
These steps come with non-skid feet so even if they are placed on a tiled floor, they will stay steady.
The steps are easily cleaned with simple household cleanser.
When you are finished with them, they will fold down easily so they can be stored away.
A Word of Caution
Make sure to ALWAYS monitor your dog, when they’re using the ramps or stairs, particularly when using them to access your above ground pools!
We’ll talk a bit more about water safety later on, but it’s important that you are always supervising your dog, when they’re around water.
As well as water concerns, there are other safety considerations that you should think about.
Whether you choose a ramp or stairs you need to be sure that your dog will be able to use it in the dark, when the lights are out in the bedroom and your pooch want a drink of water.
They need to be able to find the ramp or stairs and get safely back up.
As dogs get older so their mental capacity declines and they may simply forget where the ramp is, fall onto it and injure themselves.
You may need to consider adding a motion sensor light to show them how to get safely back to you!
It is never a good idea to leave the ramp or stairs unattended because accidents can and do happen.
Just like with kids running up and down stairs, so dogs can slip and fall. You need to be right there to make sure all goes well.
A Little About Water Safety
Some breeds such as Bulldogs are not very buoyant, in fact they will very likely sink if their feet are not touching the ground.
You may consider a life jacket for your dog which will let him enjoy the pool safely.
If your dog gets into trouble and you must get in to help him, do not pull him by his front legs as this will cause an injury. Remember that your dog is going to be panicking and take care not to get hurt yourself.
Speak as calmly as possible and slowly pull him towards you with arms around his tummy area and move to the edge of the pool.
You can train your dog to swim and enjoy water. Start in shallow water and gradually go into deeper water. Keep your pooch leashed by your side to give extra confidence.
It is important that you train your dog to get out of the pool. Make sure you do this often until he is confident of finding the exit point and getting out on his own.
It is never a good idea to throw your dog into the water to teach it to swim, this approach will not work, and you will end up with a dog who is either scared of water or hates it intensely.
Never leave your dog alone in the pool.
Final Thoughts: Top 8 Best Dog Pool Ramps
With a few simple considerations along with a good solid ramp or stairs, your pooch can enjoy a day in the pool safely.
Make sure to have your dog pee and poop before he goes into the pool. Yes, like kids, dogs may have ‘accidents.’
Have some toys for your pooch, a soft ball to push under the water or some floaty toys to swim after will be fun. Make sure to give your dog several breaks because swimming will tire him out.
Rinse your dog off well after he has been for a swim and be sure that you all the time. This way it will be a great day for both you and your furry friend.