Best Dog Boat Ramps and Ladders for Safer Canine Boarding (2019)

Making getting into and out of boats easier for your pup.

Written By: Richard Cross | Last Updated:

Does your dog enjoy swimming from a boat? These dog boat ramps and ladders can make getting back into the boat much easier.

Dog boat ramps and ladders can keep your dog safe. Here are five of the best.

Dogs often love boating – and many also enjoy jumping into the sea or lake for a swim.

Getting back into a boat can be tricky though. While many dogs can pull themselves out of water, a lack of upper body strength can make this tiring. Scrabbling around on a slippery surface also puts your pup at risk of injury.

Dog boat ladders, ramps and stairs make it much easier for your dog to climb into a boat. They are especially useful if your pet is too heavy to lift or suffers from joint pain. In this article, we’ve listed five of the best options.

Our #1 Pick

Paws Aboard Doggie Boat Ladder

A portable ladder that fits most boats

My top pick for a dog boat ladder is the Paws Aboard. It can attach to most boarding ladders, making it a convenient choice for helping your pup after swimming. It’s also strong and foldable.

Why Use a Boat Ramp or Stairs?

A trip on the lake or ocean can be a fun experience with your pet, but there are a host of dangers to avoid or minimise.

Aside from the essentials, such as a dog life jacket, sunscreen and plenty of fresh drinking water, a ramp is one of the best ways to make boating safer for your pet. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Protect Your Dog’s Joints. Jumping into water isn’t likely to hurt your pup – unless you happen to own a huge yacht – but the effort required to get back into the boat could certainly aggravate joint pain. Jumping onto a hard dock could also contribute to arthritis and other joint conditions.
  • Protect Your Back. Hauling a dog out of water is surprisingly difficult – even for small breeds. Doing it repeatedly could cause a back injury. Many dogs also find being lifted via a life jacket stressful.
  • Make Swimming More Fun for Your Dog. Swimming can be a wonderful way for a dog to exercise, but many pets get tired fast. Having a ramp or ladder lets your dog control when he wants to rest, rather than needing you to lift him out.
  • Reduce Chance of Over-tiredness. Getting back into a boat takes a lot of effort for most dogs. If you’re spending a whole day on the water, your pet is likely to be exhausted. Ramps and ladders can make swimming much easier for your pooch.
  • Protect Your Boat. Scrabbling claws can cause serious scratches to your boat’s hull!

You may also want to consider a ramp for boarding from a dock. Jumping from a slippery surface onto a boat, or vice-versa, is a recipe for injury. There’s also a risk of your dog falling and getting trapped between the dock and boat. A simple extendable ramp can prevent this.

How to Choose Boat Steps, Ladders or Ramps for Dogs

A dog laying on a boatThere are many dog ramps on the market, but most are designed for cars, SUVs and trucks. While these might be fine for dock boarding, they are not suitable for use in water.

Fortunately, several companies sell dog ramps and ladders designed specifically for boats.

Some of the most important considerations when choosing a dog ramp for boat trips include:

  • Non-Slip Surface. Wet surfaces can be dangerously slippery. Look for boat steps or ladders with plenty of traction, so your dog can easily climb out of water. Some ramps also use a rubber mesh for grip.
  • Type. Most boat aids for dogs fall into two categories: ramps or stairs. Stairs, also known as ladders, can be harder for a dog to walk up – especially for small breeds. As the individual steps are horizontal, however, there is less chance of slipping. Ramps are less stressful on a dog’s joints and are easier for smaller breeds, but make sure you choose one with plenty of grip. There are also platforms, which are similar to ladders but with a single step below the water surface.
  • Durable and Strong. All ladders and ramps have a maximum user weight. If your pet exceeds this weight, the ramp could buckle and become unsafe. Also, look for a ramp made with strong waterproof materials, such as aluminium or reinforced plastic.
  • Portable and Easy to Use. Unlike pool ramps, boat ramps are rarely permanent. Look for a ramp with an easy-to-fit design, so you don’t waste valuable water time struggling with a fiddly ladder. A folding design can also improve portability.
  • Does it Fit Your Boat? Most dog ramps for boats are designed to fit a wide range of boats, but they aren’t suitable for all hulls. Some ramps attach to a pontoon ladder, while others hook onto the side of your boat. Make sure you check the product fits your boat and reaches the water surface.

On a side note, your dog should always wear a canine life jacket when near water – even if you have a ramp installed.

Some dog breeds are naturally good swimmers, but others struggle in water. Even strong swimmers get tired much sooner than many dog owners realise. A life jacket could save your dog’s life, so never go boating without one.

5 Best Dog Boat Ramps and Ladder Reviews

Listed below are five of the best dog boat ladders and ramps. Make sure you read each review carefully to find the right option for your boat and pet.

Paws Aboard

1. Paws Aboard Doggie Boat Ladder

The Paws Aboard Doggie Boat Ladder is great for helping your dog get back into a boat. It’s also foldable and can be attached to (almost) any boat ladder.

What does fitting “almost” any boat mean though? You need a boat ladder with at least three steps, otherwise the Paws Aboard can’t be properly secured. Also, if your ladder is more than 14″ wide, you’ll need to purchase an extension kit.

Attaching the ramp is a quick process. It’s also a durable design with a UV-resistant exterior, so it shouldn’t fade in the sun.

There are a few other downsides. While the installation process is simple, it can take some practice to get it right. You also need to detach the ramp whenever a human wants to use the regular ladder.

For most boats, however, the Paws Aboard Doggie Ladder is a decent choice.

Why We Recommend It: The Paws Aboard is a durable ladder that fits onto almost any boat ladder. It's simple to attach and has a folding design.
  • Attachment: Boat Ladder
  • Type: Ladder
  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Solid design and UV resistant finish
  • Quick to attach (when you get the hang of it)
  • Folding design
  • Expensive
  • Doesn't fit every boat
  • Needs to be detached for humans to use the regular ladder
Great Day LP500

2. Great Day LP500 Load-a-Pup Pet Platform

If you just need a simple dog platform, the Great Day LP500 could be a good option.

It can be attached to almost any boarding ladder. Once attached, it provides a submerged surface for your dog to climb on when he’s finished swimming

Other features include gripping ridges for traction, an easy-to-install design, and a relatively big 20″ x 14″ platform. It’s also built with high-strength aluminium, making it one of the toughest dog ramps on the market.

While it might be tempting for humans to use the platform, be careful with the weight limit. It’s designed for canines, after all! I would also prefer slightly stronger straps – although they are durable enough for most dogs.

You should also keep in mind that the LP500 is a heavy aluminium platform. It will sink if you drop it, so make sure you attach the strap first.

Why We Recommend It: The LP500 is a good choice for pontoon boats. With its durable aluminium platform and relatively lightweight design, it's a convenient choice.
  • Attachment: Boat Ladder
  • Type: Platform
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Strong aluminium frame
  • Large platform with gripping ridges
  • Fits almost any boarding ladder
  • Can be fiddly to attach the straps
Beavertail Folding

3. Beavertail Aluminum Folding Ladder

If you don’t want to attach a ramp to your boarding ladder, the Beavertail Aluminium Folding Dog Ladder is one of the strongest and most convenient options.

The Beavertail has a stainless steel frame for the ultimate durability. While I don’t think it’s the most attractive ramp, it’s strong enough for most dogs.

It has an adjustable design, so it can latch onto most boat hulls. There are also rubber arms to reduce the chance of scratching.

A potential downside of this ladder is that the stainless steel frame doesn’t provide as much grip as other options. If your dog doesn’t seem to trust the surface, you may want to install a rubber cover for extra grip.

Why We Recommend It: The Beavertail Aluminium hooks onto the side of a boat hull. It has rubber protectors to prevent damage and a solid aluminium and stainless steel frame.
  • Attachment: Side
  • Type: Ladder
  • Price Range: $$$
  • Highly durable and strong
  • Easy to attach
  • Cheaper than some of the other options
  • Metal frame doesn't provide as much grip as rubber
Drifter Marine Boarding Ladder

4. Drifter Marine Dog Boat Boarding Ladder

The Drifter Marine Boarding Ladder has a slightly different design to the other ramps and ladders on this list. Instead of a solid platform or steps, it has a waterproof mesh netting that provides plenty of grip. The mesh also allows water to pass through, so it isn’t moved as much by waves.

Other features of the Drifter Marine include adjustable hooks for attaching the ramp to most boat walls, rubber guards, and a strong aluminium frame. The platform and arms also both fold for storage.

A downside of this ramp is that it’s only suitable for dogs weighing up to 125lbs. This is to be expected, as the mesh platform is never going to match solid metal platforms, but means it’s unsuitable for the heaviest dog breeds.

It also isn’t suitable for pontoon boats or any boat with a thick outer wall. For smaller fishing boats, however, it’s a great choice.

Why We Recommend It: The Drifter Marine isn't strong enough for large dog breeds, but for small or medium dogs it's an excellent ramp. The mesh surface is an interesting feature, as it provides grip but allows water to flow through.
  • Attachment: Side
  • Type: Ladder/Ramp
  • Price Range: $$$
  • High traction mesh
  • Strong frame
  • Quick to attach
  • Not suitable for pontoon boats or those with thick walls
  • Only 125lbs maximum capacity
Avery Hunting Gear

5. Avery Hunting Gear Dog Ramp

The Avery Hunting Gear Ramp is a budget option if you don’t want to shell out for one of the others on this list.

It’s not the most attractive ramp, due to the brown fabric platform, but has small steps for extra grip and a folding design. It also has a tough frame that can withstand long-term use.

There are a few drawbacks though. It’s unlikely to work on most pontoon boats, as the rails need to be near the waterline. It’s also a shame that the “steps” aren’t as wide as the ramp, as this would make it easier for broad-shouldered dogs to climb.

Why We Recommend It: The Avery Hunting Gear Dog Ramp is a relatively strong option with a folding design. It also has small steps for extra grip and is available for a great price.
  • Type: Ramp
  • Price Range: $$
  • Excellent price
  • Quick to attach
  • Small steps for grip
  • Steps don't extend across the whole platform

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Dog Ramp is Best for a Pontoon Boat?

Ramps or ladders that attach to boarding ladders are often the best for pontoon boats. For this reason, the Paws Aboard Doggie Boat Ladder and Great Day LP500 could both be good choices if they fit your boarding ladder.

Avoid ramps that need to be hooked over the side of a boat’s hull though. Pontoon boats are often too high for these to reach the water.

What About the “Dog On Water” Inflatable Ramp?

The Dog On Water Ramp is one of the few inflatable floating ramps on the market. It’s a decent choice, but the company only produces it in batches for each season. This means it’s not always available. If you need a floating dog ramp, however, it’s probably the best option.

Summary

A dog boat ramp can make getting out of water much easier for your pup. It can also protect your boat from canine claws and make boat trips a lot less tiring for your dog.

My top pick for a dog boat ladder is the Paws Aboard. It attaches to almost any boarding ladder and has a ridged design for your pet to climb.

Do you have any questions about choosing a dog boat ramp or ladder? Please let me know using the comments section below.

About The Author: Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.