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OFF BEAT: Paunchy pooches get boost from insurer's stair lift

Posted On: Mar. 29, 2012 12:00 AM CST

As pet insurance programs continue to gain popularity, a product under development in the United Kingdom may show the need for pet wellness efforts.

The Daily Mail reported this week on efforts to develop a £5,000 ($7,934) doggy stair lift that would assist those pooches having trouble making it up stairs on their own four paws.

U.K. insurer More Than, a unit of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance P.L.C., reportedly is looking for a manufacturer to produce its prototype. It includes a “paw push” start button and a plastic basket that carries the pet up the stairs.

The stair lift would benefit not only those pups whose trips up the stairs are made more challenging by a few extra pounds, but those suffering from arthritis or other conditions that make it difficult or impossible to go up and down stairs on their own.

Pet weight issues are serious business, with the Daily Mail piece including data suggesting that 35% of dogs and 37% of cats in the United Kingdom are considered overweight and that, at the current pace, 46% of dogs will be considered obese by 2016.

As in humans, that extra weight can cause or contribute to a variety of health conditions in dogs that include back and hip problems, so tending to Fido’s wellness today could go a long way toward putting off future need to invest in a doggy stair lift.