Can a Dog Wheelchair Be Used for a Dog with a Bad Knee?

A canine knee injury can make it impossible for a dog to bear weight on their injured leg. But your dog still wants to run and play. How can you help them? A dog wheelchair can give your dog the support they need to maintain its balance, stand comfortably, and reduce the weight it’s placing on its bad knee. 

5 Ways a Wheelchair Helps Dogs with Knee Injuries

1. Allow Pets to Walk Without Bearing Full Weight on the Injured Knee

Running Small Dog Wheelchair

The primary function of a dog wheelchair is to help pets get the exercise they need. When a dog injures their knee, it can become painful for them to walk, and many dogs will lift the injured leg off the ground and refuse to bear any weight on it. The wheels on a canine cart act as a replacement for a dog’s back legs, meaning the wheelchair offers the same support their back legs usually do. 

While in the wheelchair, the dog can still use its back legs and walk normally, but they no longer have to place its full weight on the injured knee. The wheelchair encourages them to walk, prevents muscle atrophy, and helps rehabilitate the injured leg. The decision to use a wheelchair should be made with the help of your veterinarian. Your vet will determine when the right time is to introduce a cart to your dog and how frequently your pet should use their cart. 

2. Reduce the Strain on the Remaining “Healthy” Leg

Dogs who tear one cruciate have a high probability of injuring the other knee within a year. By offering balanced support, a dog wheelchair can reduce the stress placed on the healthy knee by allowing the dog to distribute its weight on both back legs evenly.

Not only does this make it easier for the dog to continue walking, but a wheelchair prevents the dog from placing too much strain on its “good” leg. 

3. Provide Support During Rehabilitation

wheelchair dog rehabilitation

Rehab therapy can play a big part in your dog’s recovery. As your dog’s knee heals, structured exercises with a rehab practitioner can help strengthen the dog’s leg and knee while also improving the knee’s range of motion.

A wheelchair is an excellent way to help support a dog as they work through various rehab exercises, even during an underwater treadmill session. The wheelchair’s support can even be helpful during acupuncture or cold laser treatments. 

4. Offer an Alternative to Knee Surgery

Not every dog is an ideal candidate for surgery. Whether due to its age or overall health, if knee surgery isn’t an option, a dog wheelchair can be a viable alternative. 

Knee surgery can be an expensive undertaking. In some cases, rest and the help of an assistive device (like a wheelchair) may be an alternative option to surgery. However, the decision to have surgery or not isn’t one you should make on your own. Always speak with a medical professional to ensure you make the best decision for your dog.

5. Post Operative Support

Crate rest after knee surgery is often necessary but can last for weeks. Regardless of your dog’s recovery plan, they still need to be able to go outside to relieve themselves safely. In human terms, a wheelchair can act as a crutch for a dog. It gently supports their back legs from under the pelvis. Walking while supported lowers a dog’s risk of reinjuring itself or prevents them from placing its full weight on the healing knee. A wheelchair should never replace crate rest after surgery, but it can be a safe way to help your dog walk as they heal. Always talk to your veterinarian about the best way to care for your dog after surgery. 

With the invention of a dog wheelchair, a canine knee injury, no longer means your dog has to miss out on exercise. Although your best friend shouldn’t be chasing a ball, a wheelchair can give them the support they need to start the rehabilitation process, get outside for bathroom breaks, and give them a safe way to regain mobility. 

German Shepherd dog wheelchair

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