All the dog owners who love adventures know that trips are all the more exciting when you have your four-legged buddy with you. Other than the smiley face and the joy of seeing your dog wag their tail in great pleasure, canines make you feel safer and give you the confidence you need, especially when on those terrifying adventures.
However, before you think about getting to the planet’s creepiest places, you first need to come up with a way of getting your Fido on your SUV.
Of course, things will be easy if you are petting one of the small lap dogs. However, if you have a medium to large dog, it can be a hurdle, especially now that it’s out of the question to pick them up and get them into the vehicle.
Now, one way of making life easier when such moments roll about is using a dog ramp. You can either invent your own or buy one from the market—it all depends on what you think works best for you. Of course, if you are a busy man who may not get enough time to create one, you don’t have an option other than to opt for the finished product.
However, if you want to come up with a ramp that accommodates the unique needs of your furbaby, making your own is the best idea. The good thing is that designing one is a pretty straightforward process and costs less than buying. Today, we will be guiding you on how to build a dog ramp for an SUV.
Why Do You Need A Dog Ramp For An SUV?
Of course, the first thing a ramp does is make life easier, just as aforementioned. Some breeds are not light-footed enough to jump up into your vehicle. Lifting them into the car may also be a hassle, especially when talking about one of the giant dog breeds. Hence, one thing a dog ramp does is eliminate the struggle that such moments pose.
Also, a dog ramp will go a long way to prevent injuries. Even dogs that love to jump, the Siberian Husky, for instance, can sustain injuries from situations that seem very unlikely to yield anything negative. If that’s the case for the Huskies, we all know what to expect when it comes to dogs prone to joint-related issues like GSDs, Great Danes, and the like.
Apparently, no pet parent is willing to gamble with their canine’s happiness and well-being. We all want to give these furbabies a wonderful life, not one full of pain and suffering. And one way to achieve that is by ensuring utmost safety even in the things that seem very unlikely to cause injuries of whatsoever kind.
Wood Vs. Metal Vs. Plastic—Does Material Really Matter?
When building a dog ramp for your canine, one decision you have to make is on the material to use. Here, you will often want to choose between metal, plastic, and wood. So, under what circumstances should you use each of these materials? Below, we are going to enlighten you on how to make a decision.
Wood is one of the most common materials that pet owners opt to use when building a dog ramp for an SUV. However, that doesn’t qualify it as the most appropriate material for your furry friend. When deciding on the material, factor in things like the dog’s weight, need for portability, and weather conditions.
A wooden ramp is usually strong enough to support dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages. Nevertheless, this material can get slippery, especially during wet days. To make it safer for use, it’s recommendable that you cover it with a non-slip carpet.
When buying wood, ensure that you get one that’s mildew resistant. You should also shun materials that are likely to split when driving fasteners through them. Keep in mind that the goal is coming up with an industry-grade unit that’s going to stand the test of time.
Another downside of using wood is that it doesn’t offer the best in terms of portability. Well, but that will again depend on the wood you choose. But if you are going for one of the hardwoods, hauling it around may not be that pleasant. However, if you intend to use it as a static ramp, wooden material works just fine.
Another material that you can use for your dog ramp is plastic. Plastic material is lighter compared to wood. Therefore, a ramp that’s of plastic will outshine a wooden one when it comes to portability.
Plastic material is also not likely to develop mildew or rust. Hence, it’s more appropriate for dog owners living in high-humid areas. If you have one of the forgetful minds and want a unit that will stand nights of being left outside, plastic could be the most appropriate material.
However, before you opt for a plastic ramp, there are a few drawbacks you need to know about this material. For instance, plastic ramps are usually not the strongest. As a result, most pet experts recommend them for small to medium dogs.
Sure, you can still get high-strength plastic that can bear the weight of large dog breeds like Great Danes and German Shepherds. Nevertheless, material of this kind costs a fortune, and not many pet parents are willing to fork out that much, especially when they know they can get comparable strength at a lower price.
The other material that can work ideally for dog ramps is metal. Metal is sturdy and will provide the sturdiness you need. Consequently, ramps of this construction type work well for small and large dog breeds alike, no matter the weight and breed.
About portability, most of them are easy to carry around. Again, that will depend on the type of metal. For instance, we expect an aluminum ramp to weigh less than one that’s of steel or any other heavier metal.
Another thing you are going to like about metal ramps is that they are easy to keep clean. Most of them will only require you to wipe the dirt off after every use. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any drawbacks—metal ramps are more likely to catch rust.
Sure, some of them come with the so-called “rust protection” finish. However, usually, these finishes are intended more for aesthetic benefits and not protection. As a result, if you choose a metal ramp, you should be ready to meet its maintenance standards.
So, What Material Is Ideal For a DIY Dog Ramp?
While plastic and metal work just fine for ramps, a few reasons make us recommend wood when building a dog ramp. Wood is sturdy, easy to work with on DIY projects, cheaper, and doesn’t need much when it comes to maintenance.
The Must-Haves For Building a Wooden Dog Ramp
You already know that you are going to use wood. However, that’s not the only thing you need to come up with the final product. Here, you have to bring in more tools and materials. At the least, you will need a drill, saw, nail gun, wood glue, carpet, carpet glue, pen, screws, fabric, lacquer, plywood, saw, wood for crossbars and side rails, and sandpaper.
Step-By-Step Process of Building A Wooden Dog Ramp
You have basic woodworking skills, the right set of tools, and the necessary materials for the project—well done. Below, we will take you through several steps on how you can pull the project off with ultimate ease.
Step 1: Begin With Determining The Length and Width
The first step of the building process is deciding the length and width of the ramp. You don’t want to make the ramp too steep for your dog. You also want to ensure it’s wide enough for your dog to climb on it comfortably.
Usually, the length will depend on the rise of the vehicle platform. The rule of the thumb is to ensure that the angle of incline is between 18 to 25 degrees. Small dogs will need a less steep surface, so you may consider operating in the lowest point of that range. For medium and larger dogs, steeper surfaces up to 25 degrees work just fine.
About the width of the dog ramp, that will again depend on the size of your pet. We don’t expect a ramp suitably made for Dachshunds or Beagles to work well for giant dogs like the Mastiff and the Great Danes. Small dogs will need a ramp that’s between 11-12 inches wide. For medium dogs, 22-24 inches should work just fine. Larger dogs will need about 30 inches to climb with confidence.
Step 2: Do The Cutting
After determining the ideal size for your dog, use a pencil and tape measure to mark where the cut needs to run through. Also, get the perfect size for the crossbars and rails. Two crossbars will suffice, but three are better. The length of the crossbars should match the width of the plywood. For the side rails, they should be as long as the plywood.
After marking the necessary points, it’s time to cut. A saw will work ideally for the job, particularly the table or circular variety. You will also need sandpaper to smoothen the surface. Keep in mind that the ramp needs to be ultra-smooth to reduce the chances of your pet getting injured.
Step 3: Add Lacquer
Everything is up to size and in good shape. It’s time to make use of lacquer. This substance will prevent water from ingressing the wood, prolonging the service life of the ramp. Another advantage Lacquer offers is that it resists stains, so you may not have to worry much when your dog steps on it with muddy paws.
Step 4: Fix The Crossbars
The next step involves attaching the crossbars to the plyboard. If using three crossbars, ensure that the spacing is the same across the entire length of the board. The goal here is to ensure that you don’t leave much space between the crossbars to prevent the wood from sinking down.
At this stage, you will need wood glue, nailer, drill, and fasteners. You can use nails or screws depending on what you prefer for your project. Avoid leaving nails or screws protruding on the surface of the ramp. Any fasteners sticking out of the board can cause injuries to your adorable dog.
Step 5: Time To Add Side Rails
While some people will dodge this step, side rails are necessary for anyone who wants the utmost safety for their pets. At times your dog may lose stability, and that’s when those side rails keep them from falling off.
As stated earlier, the length of the side rails needs to be the same as the length of the ramps. The height of this safety feature should at least be of the same level as your dog’s knee caps.
Step 6: Glue Down The Carpet
The last step involves attaching the carpet over the board. The carpet you choose needs to be non-slip. At this step, you will need reliable carpet glue to help you stick it to the board.
Ensure that it isn’t frayed at the edges. Keep in mind that most dogs have the natural urge to chew. After you install the carpet, ensure that you leave the ramp to dry before you can use it.
While it’s possible to buy a dog ramp for SUV, there are a hundred and one reasons as to why you need to build your own. Creating your own will allow you to bring on board some features you aren’t likely going to find in finished ramps.
Also, you will find the total cost of making a DIY ramp to be way less compared to the one you buy in the market. That’s especially true if you have some DIY tools like drills and the like. Metal and plastic work well for dog ramps.
However, for homemade versions, we see wood as the most appropriate material. Whether you have the skillset or are doing it for the first time, our comprehensive steps should be of help.