Do stairs really hold hidden dangerous for your puppy? Could they actually be harmful to his health, cause him serious injury, or in exceptional circumstances, even kill him? You bet they can!
It should not surprise you to learn that many puppies consider going up and down stairs a daunting experience. Next time you go up some stairs take a long, hard look at them from your puppies’ point-of-view. Notice the size of the riser, and then compare it to the size of your puppy. Now imagine you had a dozen stairs to climb and were the height of your puppy. Would not you also find them a bit intimidating?
However, it is not just the dangers of climbing “mount staircase” that threatens your puppies’ health…
What Age Can Puppies Climb Stairs Safely?
In most instances, a healthy puppy should not be introduced to stairs until he is at least 12 weeks old. However, for some large dog breeds like the retriever, Labrador, Staffordshire terrier, and some shepherd dogs you should wait a lot longer.
These large breeds are prone to hip problems. Expecting them to manage stairs at 12 weeks old could make any existing or inherent problem worse. If you have a large breed puppy then it is best to carry them up and down stairs until they are 12 months old, or at least until he is too heavy for you to carry comfortably.
If in doubt, consult a vet, dog breeder, or an animal shelter for information that is specific to your dog.
Making Stairs Safe
One of the biggest dangers your puppy faces from stairs is injuries resulting from tumbles and falls caused because he is unable to keep his grip. These accidents are most commonly caused by polished or waxed hardwood stairs, which can be extremely slippery for your puppy.
Should your puppy slip and fall from any step on a hardwood staircase, then the resulting injuries can have serious consequences. Any sprains and broken bones could mean expensive vet bills for treatment. In some instances, a full recovery may not be possible. Your puppy could be burdened with serious health problems in later life, or even be killed as a result of his fall.
Even if your puppy does not have an accident, slippery stairs can seriously damage his confidence, making training him a lot harder. If your home has hardwood stairs, consider fixing some padding or carpet to them. You can always remove it when your puppy has been trained and is more confident with going up and down stairs.
Could the Biggest Danger Your Dog Faces be you?
Many owners think playing games like fetch on the stairs with their dog is a bit of harmless fun. Yet, what starts as a fun game can quickly become a disaster, as your dog could easily lose his footing and take a tumble. As already explained, an awkward fall can lead to all kinds of sprains, muscle injuries, and even your dogs’ death.
As a responsible owner, you must encourage your dog to use stairs properly at all times. Do not let him navigate the stairs when you are not present, if necessary install a pet gate to keep your dog safe. Walk him up and down stairs slowly, and with his lead on, so you are always in control. Never let him jump and bounce up and down the stairs two or three steps at a time.
Want an online course which walks you through what to do in an emergency with your pet? Then take a look at Dr Katherine van Ekert Onay’s guide to ‘First Aid for Your Pets‘.