DIY dog ramp for elderly Golden
September 20, 2008 11:10 PM   Subscribe

DIY (or maybe commercial) dog ramp. My girlfriend's elderly Golden retriever needs some help getting in and out of cars. Help me build a ramp.

Specifically, the dog is roughly 75#. The car is a Subaru outback (maybe circa 2004) with a rear trunk/tailgate level of 23". The back area of the car is 50" wide. I think a ramp would need to be about 5' long to be a gradual enough pitch for the dog to go up easily. I think the ramp will have to fold in the middle for stowage in the Subaru. The ramp will need to be 1 and 1/2 feet wide or maybe a little more and if made of wood will probably need to be 3/4 in. thick wood or something (to support the weight). It will also need a non-slick service.
I've seen a couple of DIY plans online but I'm wondering if MeFites have better ideas. I'd like for it to be lighter than plywood or linear lumber if possible. Are there other materials that could be considered? How do I rig it to be foldable? I was thinking of using hinges but I need some way to stop the swing when the board is weighted in the middle (when the dog is halfway up). Also, would there need to be a hook or ledge at the underside top of the ramp so it won't slide off the car?
If you use a commercially made ramp --what brand is it? What do you like about it? Thanks for any advice.
posted by fieldtrip to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps modifying an ATV/motorcycle ramp would be easiest, if you've got access to a welding rig. It would be super easy to cut it in half and have slip-jointed sections secured by a cotterpin. It also has the ledge grip to keep the ramp from sliding around where it contacts the vehicle.

You'd also need to fill the gaps in the ramp with something. Plate aluminum would be best. The ramp will already have "grips" on it (imagine the treads you see on dog ramps used in competitions).

You know what? Scratch all that. This looks like what you want:
posted by chrisfromthelc at 11:38 PM on September 20, 2008

Well there is a simpler solution that could be DIY or purchased. Its basically a two step stool, rather than a ramp. It takes up less room inside the vehicle and most older dogs with mobility issues can walk up them easily enough.
Like this one here. However you can easily make one from wood and customize it to exactly as you need it to be.

If your tailgate is at 23", first step is at roughly 8" and the second at 16".
posted by wile e at 11:42 PM on September 20, 2008

Discounted dog ramps. Commercial online vendor. I believe that's a golden retriever elegantly demonstating!
posted by longsleeves at 11:48 PM on September 20, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. Unfortunately I don't have a welding rig or the skills necessary. I have seen commercial ramps for sale. I should have mentioned that. I was hoping that someone could specifically recommend one--and what I was really hoping is that I could build something equivalent for much less cost.
posted by fieldtrip at 12:02 AM on September 21, 2008

Response by poster: Wile e, I appreciate your comment but I'm not convinced that stairs are a good solution. The Golden, Lannie, has problems with stairs, too.
posted by fieldtrip at 12:03 AM on September 21, 2008

Australian Better Homes and Gardens did an episode on exactly this and here is their pattern / instructions.
posted by b33j at 12:04 AM on September 21, 2008

I think, but am not certain, that this link has more information (same source).
posted by b33j at 12:06 AM on September 21, 2008

It looks like DIY "pet ramp" gives good google.
posted by b33j at 12:08 AM on September 21, 2008

Response by poster: b33j - that is a great resource. It might be beyond my carpentry skills, and it bums me out that it is in metric, and it seems costly if my conversion is correct $160 AUD equals $132 USD. But, that is certainly on the right track of what I'm looking for....but I need to get it under the price of buying one pre-made (roughly $100).
posted by fieldtrip at 12:11 AM on September 21, 2008

Response by poster: I didn't feel like I got good google from "DIY pet ramps". That bouvier article is allright but I was hoping for other insight. Thanks for the answers--somehow I hadn't found that Aus Better Homes and Gardens article.
posted by fieldtrip at 12:13 AM on September 21, 2008

The materials shouldn't be that much, you'll just have to look around a bit for them. Carpentry-wise it's not too tough really.
posted by iamabot at 1:00 AM on September 21, 2008

I bought a commercial telescoping dog ramp from PetSmart for my big old dog when she got too old to jump into my mini pickup. She was about 70# at her heaviest.

This ramp worked well, but unfortunately I don't remember the brand. It was sturdy, but lightweight, so it was easy for me to lift the ramp into the truck when my dog was done climbing in. It was made of plastic, with carpeting for traction. A wood ramp may be a little heavy for your girlfriend to lift & stow each time the dog gets in & out of the car. The ramp I bought is still in the garage for the day when my current dogs can't make it into my vehicle.

It seemed pricey at the time, but I was reassured but the people at PetSmart that there would be no problem if I needed to return it, in case my old girl couldn't get the hang of walking up the ramp. I probably could have gotten the same ramp cheaper on-line, but I got it at PetSmart because I was really afraid that my somewhat skittish dog wouldn't have anything to do the ramp.

She quickly got the hang of it. I still miss that old dog.
posted by easilyamused at 3:47 AM on September 21, 2008

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