WHEELCHAIR MOBILITY CART DESIGN -- DOGS PETS – QUALITY, INEXPENSIVE, EASY TO MAKE YOURSELF -- PVC -- QUAD ***ALL FOR THE LOVE OF A DOG
by Nancy Tucker
When my best buddy, Lanie began to have mobility problems, I began searching everywhere for options to keep her as happy and independent as possible. In all my searching of the internet, speaking with vets, handicapped pets websites, etc. –
I found some creative quality products. Many of these are very well crafted and great quality. Some are quite expensive. I know there is a need and many people cannot afford the “high-tech” models. In addition, many of the carts are for animals who have good use of their front legs – my design is for those who have poor to no use of 3 or 4 legs.
My motivation is NOT financial. I’m an animal lover. I do not want to go into the business of making these carts. I want to provide people with the information and assistance so that they (or a “handy-person” they know) can design one “custom made” for their animal friend.
Now that I have spent time and money exploring various options – it would be very easy now for you to make one with my pattern.
You can buy almost everything you need at the local hardware store and a fabric shop (I bought most of my materials on ebay) … and I estimate the total cost to be $15 to $50 for materials.
The hardest part to find was the wheels – but I have solved that problem. I have found a source where I can get all weather PVC threaded caster wheels. That is what I am using and they are made to hold hundreds of lbs. – very sturdy and work great on carpet, tile, linoleum, sidewalks. They have to be THREADED – I spent hours trying to make other types work. I have ordered a quantity to have on hand and that is perhaps the only item I will be selling – only because they are hard to find and adapt.
The other materials you can easily find yourself. I’m hoping to sell the wheels for no more than $25 for a set of 4.
I am a Social Worker and see elderly patients in carts made of PVC pipe with wheels. With their limited mobility, they can be supported by the seat but scoot around – thus greater independence. I designed my animal cart with this as my model.
PVC pipe is inexpensive, very strong and can support a lot of weight. It is waterproof and can be easily cleaned (in fact the nursing homes often use these to take people into a shower) .
It is easy to cut into the length pieces you need. Some people use a handsaw, but I bought a ratchet cutter for $11 at the hardware store (very easy to use). The elbow joints and T joints are already available to easily assemble the pieces.
Once the PVC pipe frame is made, a fabric “sling” is made to hang from the rails. “Sleeves” sewn along the edges of the sling fabric allow you to slide the sling onto the PVC pipe rails. Then you just join the PVC pieces together with the elbow joints and T joints. I had the local PVC Patio Furniture shop make a sling for me out of durable, breathable, washable fabric (it gets hot here in Florida). But anyone with a basic idea of how to sew (even by hand with a needle and strong thread) could make a sling – for example out of canvas fabric.
I want the sling to be as comfy as possible for my buddy. I am especially concerned that the openings for legs do NOT chafe (you must be careful to cut the leg openings wide enough in the sling).
I found a small square sheepskin pillow cover on ebay for $5. The photos will show how laying it as a diamond will provide a cushion. I also bought a piece of “memory foam” which I might cover and use (or just slip it into my new sheepskin pillow cover). This would help in the distribution of weight on the dog’s chest and belly.
Even a regular pillow and/or soft blanket should work.
The height of the cart is very important since the paws cannot be dragging on the ground. If your pet has some use of paws, the paws are what will be used to move around while the body is supported. Adjusting the height to exactly fit your pet will be easy, however. There are several options … adjust how low the sling hangs, add more or less padding onto the sling (the cushioning I mentioned earlier), or cut the PVC pipe (above the wheels) to be a little higher or lower.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and accept no liability for the use of this device with your animal. I have reviewed it with several veterinarians (friends) who think it is GREAT !!! The design should be reviewed with your vet for approval prior to using it with your animal.
What you will need to create this project (to buy yourself):
PVC pipe (my dog is 12 lbs. so I use ¾” pipe) – you can use plumbing grade or furniture grade (up to you) -- Estimate $2 to $12 4 PVC elbows – Estimate $3 4 PVC Ts – Estimate $3 A way to cut the PVC pieces (a handsaw or ratcheting cutter). Estimate $5 for saw or $11 for cutter. PVC glue to hold it together (although people are telling me this isn’t necessary) Estimate $3 About a yard of fabric for the sling (many options – vinyl, canvas). Estimate ??? Depends on how creative you are and how fancy you want to get.
Padding in the sling (many options – pillow, sheepskin. Memory foam, blanket). Estimate ??? Depends on how creative you are and how fancy you want to get.