Respected veterinarian, Dr. Chyrle Bonk, provides valuable insights into whether stairs are good or bad for dogs. Stair climbing for dogs, while an everyday activity, can have varying impacts on dogs based on their age, breed, and health condition. Here's an expanded view of this topic to help pet owners make informed decisions about their furry companions' well-being when it comes to stairs. https://www.houndgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/dog-stairs-scaled.jpeg Climbing stairs can be a grueling task for humans and dogs alike, but are they necessarily bad? The answer isn’t that simple. Stairs can be a great form of exercise for some dogs and very detrimental for others. Here’s how it shakes out: When a dog climbs stairs, it requires a certain amount of strength and range of motion of the joints and muscles of the legs and the back as compared to walking on level ground. Going up and down stairs puts extra pressure on joints and can lead to damage down the road if done repeatedly. Dogs also need to have some degree of coordination and focus to keep from tripping. With this in mind, stairs may not be good for dogs that have arthritis or other joint issues, especially in their hips and back. Dogs with hip dysplasia should definitely avoid stairs if possible as their already painful hips may be further aggravated by the extra demands that stairs require. Puppies also aren’t good candidates for stairs. Even though their energy level is up for the task, their developing joints and minds might not be. Repeated stair use in young puppies, especially those of large or giant breeds, can increase the risk of hip dysplasia signs as that puppy gets older. On top of that, puppies may be more likely to trip and fall on stairs because their coordination isn’t on the same plane as their activity level. Now, stairs aren’t all bad. Healthy adult dogs without joint or muscle issues may do well with stairs and can even incorporate them into a regular exercise program. Because stairs require a higher level of strength and balance than walking on level ground, they can help build and strengthen muscle and burn energy more efficiently than regular walking. You’ll just need to careful not to over do it. Going up and down stairs shouldn’t be a dog’s only form of exercise and be sure to stop when your pup is tired to prevent tripping. Dr Chyrle Bonk (DVM) Understanding the Impact of Stairs on Dogs Joint and Muscle Stress: As Dr. Bonk explains, navigating stairs requires significant strength and joint movement. This extra pressure, especially in repeated scenarios, can lead to potential joint damage in dogs. Puppies and Stair Use: Young puppies, especially of larger breeds, face a higher risk of developing conditions like hip dysplasia due to the strain stairs put on their developing joints. Their coordination levels might not be fully developed, increasing the risk of falls and injuries. You might like to read, How to Puppy-Proof Your House for First-Time Owners Older Dogs and Joint Issues: For senior dogs or those with pre-existing joint issues like arthritis or hip dysplasia, stair climbing can exacerbate their pain and discomfort. It's crucial to limit their stair use to prevent aggravating their condition. Healthy Adult Dogs: For adult dogs without any joint or muscle issues, stairs can be an excellent way to enhance their fitness. They provide a more intense workout compared to flat-surface walking, helping in muscle strengthening and efficient energy burning. Exercise Alternatives and Precautions Alternative Exercises: For dogs that should avoid stairs, consider alternative exercises like swimming, which is gentle on the joints, or leisurely walks on flat surfaces. Stair Safety: If your dog uses stairs, ensure they are well-lit and have a non-slip surface. Installing ramps can be a safer alternative for dogs with mobility issues. Monitoring Exercise Intensity: Always monitor your dog’s response to exercise. Any sign of discomfort or fatigue should be a cue to stop and rest. You might like to read, Puppy Exercise Guide for 2023: (Safe methods and going outside) FAQ Can puppies climb stairs safely? While they may be energetic enough, it's generally not recommended due to the risk of joint issues and lack of coordination. Are certain breeds more prone to stair-related injuries? Larger breeds and those predisposed to joint issues (like Bulldogs or German Shepherds) might be more at risk. How can I make stairs safer for my dog? Consider adding non-slip treads and ensuring adequate lighting. For dogs with severe mobility issues, using a ramp is a safer option. In Summary Stairs can be a beneficial exercise for healthy adult dogs but pose risks for puppies, senior dogs, and those with joint issues. It's essential to consider your dog's individual health and physical capabilities when deciding if stair climbing is appropriate. Alternative exercises and ensuring stair safety can help maintain your dog's health and prevent injuries. Authored excerpt by Dr. Chyrle Bonk (DVM) with expanded insights for a comprehensive understanding.