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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:
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:
While Mike and I have never needed to use pet ramps or stairs for Django, they are an excellent tool to prevent your pup from jumping on and of furniture. 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:
* IMPORTANT CAVEAT * While many customers have only great things to say about this product, two issues continue to pop up sparingly in Amazon's review section. For one, some customers report the carpet is very slippery - a problem especially for older dogs that have trouble walking. Another issue is craftsmanship. Several customers reported issues with drilling holes - either a hole was misaligned or missing entirely.
PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS of Solvit Wood Bedside Ramp:
We want your feedback and product recommendations!
Is there a product we didn't include on our list that you love? Please let us know in the comments below! We are 100% open to recommendations and welcome your feedback!
We recently published an in-depth yet easy-to-comprehend article explaining IVDD in dogs - causes, prevention, symptoms and treatment options:
Is the cargo area safe for pet travel? Will dogs too large for in-cabin pet travel be comfortable in the hold of the plane?
There are preconceived notions that cargo pet travel is unsafe, stressful, and something to be avoided. Rather than jump to this conclusion ourselves, we did a lot of research to better understand pet travel in cargo: what cargo pet travel actually is, potential risks and hazards with putting dogs or cats in cargo, and recent statistics on pet safety.