Due to an illness, my dog is having a hard time getting up/down the stairs – does anyone have any suggestions?


My dog is experiencing some muscle weakness due to an illness, and is having a hard time on the stairs. Unfortunately, I live in a split level with lots of stairs. I think they’re even more difficult for her because they’re hardwood, and therefore a bit slick for her. She has slid down them (thankfully without injury) once already.

I’ve thought about somehow attaching some carpet scraps to the stairs, or making a ramp of sorts that has some sort of tread on it. A friend suggested something like a baby stroller that we could roll her up and down the ramp. I think if I do any ramp project, it will have to extend pretty far beyond the stairs so it won’t be too steep. This would work in some parts of the house, but not others.

I’ve been simply carrying her when she’s not feeling up to par, but I have a history of a herniated disc in my back, and right now it’s flaring. She’s only 40 pounds, but I’m afraid I can’t do it until my back bounces back.

It occurred to me tonight that I can’t be the only person that’s ever had this issue – any help would be appreciated.

I should have mentioned – -she’s under the care of a fabulous vet 🙂
Thanks so much for your help (and I’ll take all I can get – please keep it coming, everyone’s giving me such good ideas), and I’m seeing I should add a detail or two.

It’s not an arthritis thing, though those of you with dogs suffering from arthritis are likely dealing with the same issues, and she’s an 8 year old Staffordshire, which can lean toward arthritis, so that might be playing a part as well in her troubles. She has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which prevents her from absorbing protein. That, coupled with the fact that she’s on meds that include muscle weakness as a side effect is kinda kickin’ her butt. She’s on Prednisone (a corticosteroid), Metronidizole (an antibiotic that can contribute to muscle weakness), and has low free thyroid (also contributes to muscle weakness – we just learned this the other day, and she is now being treated for it). With any luck, once her thyroid evens out and we find a happy medium with the Inflammatory Bowel and are able to wean her off so

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    8 Responses to “Due to an illness, my dog is having a hard time getting up/down the stairs – does anyone have any suggestions?”

    1. Collins says:

      I live in a back split, plus the only way for my dog to get in and out for business involved stairs. So we simply set him up in the house on one level the one we were in the most and moved his bed, bowls everything to the one area to keep him from having to move about. we put baby gates up in the stair ways so he didnt try and follow us up and down the stairs (after all our furry friends love to please us) It was hard at first because he didnt understand it but it became his new routine. I dont know about you but our problem was he kept on trying to please us by following us like he always did and he couldnt be doing it with his leg so we just changed up his routine. And if you have stairs leading outside you may want to look in one of the as seen on tv stores they have a new thing out that allows your dog to do her thing inside thats still somewhat hygenic. Its basically a large pan with a flat surface that has fake grass on it, they make them for large breeds too. hope this helps!!

    2. Berner Sennenhund says:

      First off, what condition does she have? Some are more easy to treat than others, and the best course of action depends on the condition.

      Supportive joint care is very important at this stage.. if the muscles are weak the joints need to be in optimal condition.. glucosamine+chondroitin sulfate and devil’s claw, is pretty much the best thing you can do for joint care. ( You can get this in an all in one powder from your vet called "Flexadin" http://www.vetoquinol.ca/en/index.asp?page=184 ) Ensuring she’s getting the proper amount of protein in her diet will help with muscle. Also low impact endurance building will help with building muscle up as well..so brisk walking several times a day.

      Get carpet/a runner for the stairs, so she has something to grip, and keep the nails as short as possible.. when nails get long they cause amisalignmentt of the digits, which can lead to arthritis and bad posture, causing pain. If her muscles have really atrophied, something like a Biko Brace ( http://www.vetinst.com/pages.php?pageid=62 ) can help.

    3. Ashley says:

      if i ever have that problem i will get one of those seats that goes up and down the stairs, (sorry, i don’t know what its called) if i cant find a good enough ramp, sorry i dont have experiance with that! but thats what i would try if i could afford it.

    4. Kay says:

      Both of your thoughts are great ideas. Carpeting would definitely help. You can go to lowes or home depo and get a strip rug cut to size that you could secure down.

      The ramp would be great, too. I don’t know how steep your stairs are, so there would definitely have to be some kind of tread. maybe even just slats of wood going across for her to catch her feet on.

      Is it a muscle weakness problem or is it a pain issue? If it’s pain maybe some pain meds for her.

      I hope you find a great way to fix the problem. 🙂 Good luck.

    5. Briahna says:

      I used to have a boxer (lived to be 16 yo) he experienced atheritice when he was 13 and we bought a thing at Petco or PetSmart it was a harness with a handle and we carried him down the stairs because the poor thing would literally slide down the stairs head first. We gave him the meds the vet perscribed but that hardly worked. I would just say to continue what your doing and make sure she elevates her legs and dont but strain on them. We also used to keep our dog down stairs next to the back door to make it easier. We only took him upstairs to eat and sleep. Maybe that would work? Hope this helped!!

      if you have hardwood floors this might help alot! (we thought of this for brief moments) Put gripping tape or whatever you call it, on te stairs or even on the floor around the house for extra balance!

    6. Anna Jj says:

      Maybe carpet would help. But maybe you should take your baby to the vet to see whats up and if you do go for a check up you can always ask the doctor

    7. Chetco says:

      I have had old or ill dogs that couldn’t make it up and down stairs. I split an old bath towel lengthwise, and loop one piece under the dog’s belly, and hold its two ends. It gives a good handle to help them up and down, and, as you are really only lifting/steadying a portion of their weight, it is easy on a bad back. ( like mine)

      When one of mine had to get up and down very frequently, I just safety-pinned the towel in place, so that it was always in position.