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This article was updated in June 2022.
When Django was a baby, our ‘walks’ consisted of him sitting in the middle of a busy Brooklyn sidewalk while Mike and I (Steph) tried to get Django to go to the bathroom. Django would stare up wide-eyed at every passerby, hoping they’d stop to pet him. They usually did :)
Many people who stopped to pet Django were dachshund owners. And so many of these doxie lovers had a story to tell us about their dog and Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD).
IVDD, per PetMD, “is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst into the spinal cord space… [they] press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis.” If you're unsure of what this means, don't worry! We recently published a comprehensive and easy-to-understand article explaining IVDD in dogs: what it is, causes, prevention, symptoms, and treatment options. You can find the article here:
DJANGO Dog Blog: Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) in Dogs | Causes, Prevention, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
When Django was 4.9 lbs of cuteness, kind and well-meaning New Yorkers told Mike and I countless stories about IVDD. We heard horror stories about dogs with chronic back pain or permanent paralysis, and a few heartbreaking tales of dogs in so much pain that they had to be euthanized. Many people told us to never let Django jump on and off furniture or even climb stairs. So that’s what we did.
Mike and I have never allowed Django to jump on and off furniture, and we don’t let him climb even a short flight of stairs. Extreme? Maybe. But after hearing so many terrible tales of IVDD, we decided to take drastic action. We recognize that Django is still at risk of IVDD - no stairs or jumping aside. His body is extra long and his legs are amusingly short... he's unfortunately at risk no matter what we do.
Django is unusually chill, so teaching him to never jump or climb stairs was actually easy. Now Django sits patiently at the bottom of a staircase until we're ready to say "pick up!" and carry him upstairs. Of course, not all dogs are as eerily calm as Django.
Whether you have a healthy puppy, a middle aged dog with a sensitive back, or a senior dog who has (or hasn't) experienced IVDD... consider minimizing the risk of future back problems with pet gates, dog ramps and shallow pet stairs.
Yes, some breeds are more genetically at risk of IVDD. These chondrodystrophic breeds include dachshunds, bulldogs, basset hounds, beagles, corgis, cocker spaniels, pekingese, shih-tzus and even poodles. But all dogs grow more susceptible to back problems as they age, including non-chondrodystrophic breeds.
Here are the most popular and well-rated indoor dog gates, pet ramps and stairs.
Consider a high quality pet gate to keep your pup safe in one section of your home or to prevent your dog from climbing and descending steep staircases. Mike and I use Top Paw’s Extra Wide Pet Gate at my parents' home to prevent Django from leaving the living room and running up the stairs. Consider the second option below if you don’t need the extra wide reach and want to save a few dollars.
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of Top Paw Extra Wide Pet Gate:
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of Carlson Pet Gate:
Pet ramps and stairs are an excellent tool to prevent your pup from jumping on and off furniture in the home. Pet ramps have a modest incline and are best for dogs with sensitive backs or pups with mobility problems. Ramps are also the best option for dogs genetically at risk of IVDD. Pet stairs are most popular for young, non-chondodystrophic breeds and will take up a little less space in your home.
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of Best Pet Supplies Foam Pet Stairs:
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of Pet Gear's Easy Step II Pet Stairs:
This is a great option for dogs at greater risk of IVDD, like Django, as the scalloped design is significantly easier on dogs' back then true 'stairs'.
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of Snoozer's Scalloped Pet Ramp:
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of Solvit Wood Bedside Ramp:
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of PETMAKER's Folding Plastic Pet Stairs:
We recently published an in-depth yet easy-to-comprehend article explaining IVDD in dogs - causes, prevention, symptoms and treatment options:
I’m sure you’ve heard of Crusoe The Celebrity Dachshund. His owner Ryan, designed and Indygogo’ed a dog ramp for (all) small dogs. This ramp can be adjusted to any height, put at the side or foot of the bed. I bought one and am more than happy with it! And best of all Charlie USES it (it took a short time for him to get used to it)! We have it installed at the foot of our bed. Please check it out!
@GWEN JENSEN Great feedback! Thanks so much for letting us and our readers know about your experience with the Solvit Bedside Ramp. It’s nice to hear that your 19lb chiweenie uses it without any issues, but good point about the rails. I can see the lack of rails being a main concern for dogs with back injuries or sensitive backs. And I’m not surprised about your comment regarding the screws – a recurring complaint among customers was the drill holes. Thanks again Gwen, appreciate your insight! Steph
I have the solvet ramp for my senior chiweenie, who’s about 19lbs. he seems to be able to navigate it just fine although I am thinking of adding rails to it. only because he throws himself off the bed about half way down the ramp. not a problem with the design or anything but would be a great addition :) I have noticed that the screws come out easily if you don’t tighten them periodically
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February 10, 2021
Forgot to add. Name of the ramp is Doggo Ramp and it has removable, adjustable rails!