London - As every dog owner knows, it is near impossible to stop a puppy from leaping paws first from the back of the boot.
But letting them jump from significant heights – such as that of a 4x4 boot – could put the family pet at risk of arthritis, a study has found.
Researchers have found that the leap from a large 4x4 puts four times more force on a dog’s legs than a normal step.
If a pet does this regularly, they may sustain wear and tear on their joints and this could lead to painful osteoarthritis, which affects around one in five dogs.
A study in the journal Veterinary Record, which examined the impact on 15 dogs of jumping from boot-height, concludes that it is "inadvisable". Instead it is suggested owners set up a ramp for their dog to walk down.
Co-author Dr Alison Wills, of Hartpury University Centre in Gloucester, said: "Dogs develop degenerative joint disease for a multitude of reasons, but there is a concern that dogs jumping repeatedly from car boots may be at increased risk of developing this type of condition.
"We would suggest that people consider using ramps stretching from their car to the ground for all dogs, instead of just for those with existing joint problems."
The first study to look at the risk of injury for dogs jumping from cars recruited 15 pets including collies, retrievers and Belgian shepherds.