Are Dog Wheelchairs Safe For Dogs

Will a dog wheelchair be safe for your dog? 

First, determine with your veterinarian if your pet is of sound enough health to manage a dog cart. You can evaluate your pet’s health and mobility at home with the ‘towel test’. Slide a towel in front of your dog’s back legs. While holding on to each end of a towel gently lift your dog’s back legs off the ground. With your dog supporting their weight with only their front legs, slowly step forward.

  • If your dog can walk well while you support their rear legs, they need a dog wheelchair (Result 1).
  • If your dog is still struggling to step forward and their front legs splay outwards, they need a full support (quad) wheelchair with front and back wheels Result 2).
Towel Test Diagram on Evaluating Your Pet’s Health and Mobility in selecting a wheelchair

Monitor Your Pet’s Ability

Continue to vigilantly monitor your pet’s ability, and the amount of time he or she can realistically ‘handle’ in the cart. Your pet should never be in a dog wheelchair for more than an hour. The safe range is between 15 minutes to one hour, a few times per day. Providing plenty of time in between sessions in the cart. We recommend starting with short wheelchair sessions at first and building up to longer periods as a dog builds up their stamina.

If your pet needs rehabilitation (physical therapy) a dog wheelchair will provide the perfect tool for an easier, safer, and quicker recovery.  Our Walkin’ Wheels cart is safe for water if you are considering hydrotherapy for injury or post-surgery recovery.  A dog wheelchair can aid your dog as they recover and encourage your dog to exercise more. The longer a dog is “down” or struggles with their mobility, the harder it will be to rebuild their strength. A healthy dog is an active dog.

Beau is able to walk because of his Walkin' Wheels wheelchair posing while on his walk

People have asked, ‘Are dog wheelchairs safe for my dog?’

In a nutshell, YES, BUT to prevent mishaps your pet’s wheelchair must:

  • be PROPERLY FITTED to your pet
  • have the correct structural integrity to soundly accommodate your pet
  • provide appropriate support for your pet’s back and legs
  • consider the dogs’ injury or ailment for adding the right harness system
  • A cart shouldn’t be so light or unbalanced as to tip over
  • and your dog must only be in his or her wheelchair (or cart) for a LIMITED amount of time

Pet Wheelchairs Are Not Like Human Wheelchairs

When acclimating your pet to a cart

  • Introduce your pet to the harness first, then the wheelchair. Always use positive reinforcement
  • Start with Short Supervised sessions. Five or ten minutes until comfort level increases
  • Have Special treats on hand and reward your pet as he or she is adjusting
  • Hold the leash to prevent zoomie-mode with this new-found, untested, mobility
  • Continue to Hold the leash as your pet adjusts to turns
  • Hold the leash as your pet acclimates to different terrains
  • Always start the adjustment period on a hard, smooth, level surface
  • Always Be aware that your dog isn’t creating a situation where they can tip over
  • Be aware that your dog isn’t running into kids, other dogs, and people
  • When walking on or near sidewalks make sure your dog is trained to adjust to going onto or off curbs
  • If you are on a hike, be aware of the surroundings and terrain: rocks, exposed tree roots, fallen branches, holes, squirrels, and other hikers
  • If you are out for a beach walk you may need to assist your dog until you reach the firm sand at the shoreline
  • Your Walkin’ Wheels are designed to withstand saltwater. See article for care after water use. (link) The cart is NOT a floatation device. Use in water with extreme care and guidance
  • Most importantly your dog must only be in his or her wheelchair (or cart) for a LIMITED amount of time

Wheelchair (Dog Cart) Safety Tips


disabled german shepherd posing with his wheels by his side

At any one given time within the day, a pet should only be in the wheelchair for 15 minutes to an hour and be given substantial and lengthy breaks out of the cart.

Your pet shouldn’t have to work so hard at managing the cart that he or she loses interest.

Check out our page on –

Tips to Help Your Dog Get Used to a Dog Wheelchair.


For the better part of the day when your pet isn’t in their wheelchair and are paralyzed in his or her hindquarters, use a Walkin’ Drag Bag (in your home and your fenced yard). Also available for out-of-wheelchair- mobility is the Walkin’ Scooter.

Swan the Frenchie is using her Drag bag for paralyzed dog
Swan the Frenchie is using her Walkin’ Pets Drag Bag for paralyzed dogs
Disabled pet Maisey uses scooter for indoor mobility
Disabled pet Maisey uses her Walkin’ Pets Scooter for indoor mobility

Proper Cart Fit for your pet and your pet’s injury or ‘condition’

  • Wheelchair size
  • Which harness is appropriate for pet and cart
  • Does your pet require belly/back support
  • Proper Wheels – size, and type
  • Harness, front and /or back (adjustable)
  • Secure Stirrup placement and adjustment (if required)
  • Adjustment of the wheel height
  • Are Leg Rings required?
  • Adjustment of Leg Rings (paralyzed, female, or intact male dog)
  • Putting a large dog into a cart
  • Does your pet need (or will they need) a Front Wheel Attachment to convert into a Quad Cart

Contact our customer service professionals with any questions you have in determining your pets cart, fitting, measuring, harnesses, drag bags, scooters, etc.

Walkin’ Pets
Toll Free US & Canada: 
(888) 253-0777


Maintain Your Pet’s Wheelchair like a bicycle

Schedule or conduct a Tune-up a few times per year

  • Leg dial caps are tight and in the proper location on both sides
  • Struts are secure and at the correct height
  • Your Walkin’ Wheels frame will be flexible, this is normal.
  • If you decide to tighten the frame (less flexible) do so only when your dog is in the cart.
  • Make sure Leg Ring tubing is in the shape of 2 C’s and clipped Over the Frame and locked in place. They will hang down 2-3 inches below the frame.
  • Check wheels for condition and to ensure they are secure and move easily.
  • Regularly check the tire tread.

A local bike shop can also perform a tune-up if you are more comfortable with a wheeled professional performing the tune-up.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.