A dog wheel chair may not have been something you considered purchasing when you became a dog owner, but unfortunately it sometimes becomes necessary when a dog is injured or ill or simply deteriorates with age.
Fortunately, there are now several options on the market that give owners the ability to help their best friend no matter what its condition or size. If you are thinking of getting a wheelchair for your dog, you'll want to consider the available models and make the right choice.
As with humans, there can be many reasons why a dog would need help with mobility. Any number of conditions, including osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, muscle and back injuries, spondylosis, or degenerative myelopathy can limit your dog's ability to move around and necessitate the use of mechanical assistance.
Different breeds are more prone to certain conditions. Many larger breeds have hip and elbow dysplasia, while active breeds like the Australian Shepherd are prone to tendon, muscle and joint issues from continual use.
Ermolaev Alexandr / stock.adobe.com
A dog wheelchair like the one pictured above from Walkin' Wheels will help your dog lead an active life.
There are several options, including Walkin' Wheels, K9 Carts, and SitGo, who carry a range of chairs for every size and breed. The important thing to bear in mind is that a dog wheel chair needs to fulfill many functions that a human wheel chair does not, so there will be certain features you need to take into consideration when deciding which chair to buy for your dog.
Unlike wheelchairs for humans, dog chairs need to provide extra stability, as some dogs may only lose the use of one set of limbs. If, for instance, your dog can still use its front legs while the rear legs are immobile, then you'll need a chair that properly supports the rear of the body while allowing for full mobility in the front. In most cases, the wheels will slant outward to provide more stability. This prevents the chair from falling over, which can be traumatic for the dog.
A dog wheel chair will also need to traverse much different terrain than a human chair would. Dogs spend a great deal of time running through the grass and dirt and they will need wheels that withstand any type of terrain, while still providing maximum stability. For larger dogs, it is possible to convert a human chair for their use but the wheels of most human chairs are too narrow to provide the stability that a dog requires, particularly a large dog.
Another important thing to consider is the ease of getting your dog into and out of the chair since he won't be able to do it himself. Many models have easy to adjust harnesses with Velcro fasteners that make getting your dog in and out a breeze. You'll also want to be sure there are stirrups to support the unused limbs so that they don't drag on the ground when your dog moves around.
Considering that a dog wheel chair can cost upwards of $400, it is important to ensure that you make the right choice for your dog before you invest that kind of money. Some manufacturers even make custom models designed to fit to your dog's specific needs. Make sure you do your homework and find the chair that will work best for your dog so that he can get back to enjoying his life to the fullest… because that's what these chairs are really all about.