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How Safe Is It for Your Dog to Jump off Furniture?

As a dog Mom and professional dog trainer, dog safety is always on my mind. It seems every year, I start to question things I’ve done in the past, as to whether or not it is safe. My current dog, Dexter, is a small breed dog. Ok, so he’s double the breed standard, but still is only 27 pounds.   He’s my first small breed dog.   He’s also the first dog I’ve cared for that was allowed full access to furniture.

Dog ramps can help protect your dog from joint injury.
Dog ramps can help protect your dog from joint injury.

But let’s back up a few more years. Before Dexter, there was, and is, my cat, Nutter. Nutter had luxating patellas, basically dislocated kneecaps. Nutter underwent surgery to correct the problem.   My veterinarian made it clear that Nutter was not to jump down from anything for a few months while he healed.   This always stuck in the back of my mind.

Yes, my cat had to have crate rest.  I confined Nutter to my small office, placed a small baby shirt on him, and took down his climbing tree.  When I worked in the office, and could supervise, I allowed Nutter to roam the room.  We continued this until given the all clear from his veterinarian.

When Dexter came into my life, it felt right to make sure he had steps or ramps to get down from furniture, particularly my tall bed. My head was telling me how it must be pretty rough on a dog’s joints, back, and neck to land at such an angle. But, was I right? I asked a few leading veterinarians about my concerns, and this is what they had to say.

Pet stairs help keep stress off of dog's joints.
Pet stairs help keep stress off of dog’s joints.

“I treat a lot of pets for injuries from jumping on and off furniture,” says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian and the author of several books on pet healing. “Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is commonly exacerbated by jumping and twisting the back. I see shoulders and necks that are jammed from jumping down, particularly onto hardwood or tile floors where the landing is slippery. Even large dogs can be injured jumping down from high beds, particularly on slippery floors.”

“Because many clients are not aware of pre-existing chiropractic subluxations and arthritis in their pets until the animal simply cannot get up, owners often allow their pets to run, jump and play hard, without attention to gait balance,” explains Dr. Cynthia Maro, who has practiced integrative medicine for 28 years, including animal chiropractic and rehabilitative therapies.   “When pets are encouraged or prompted to jump for a treat, the activity puts stress on weak joints and trauma is likely to result,” she says.

Hearing from these professionals that jumping down from furniture – and I can only assume cars too – may potentially cause injury to our dogs and pets, I feel a little relieved, in that I haven’t been just a Mother Hen but rather a good dog Mom. Luckily there are a lot of great dog stairs and ramps out there on the market.   I personally have a set of Puppy Stairs and Pet Gear Steps. If Dexter wasn’t small, I would invest in a car ramp as well.   But, since he’s small, I just pick him up and place him on the ground when he gets out of the car. Now, I am wondering about some of his crazy play antics, like jumping like a mad dog for the flying disc. I’ll have to think on that one a bit more.

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