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The physical transformation of a dog using their cart is obvious. What may be more surprising is the emotional change that a pet experiences. Yes, a wheelchair helps a dog to get exercise and makes it possible for them to get outside to relieve themselves. But a wheelchair also gives pets a new beginning.
A wheelchair lets them play with their family, go on hikes, and gives them the freedom to go wherever they want. This return to freedom gives your dog its life back, and the emotional impact on a dog can be incredible. Additionally, a mobility cart’s primary function is to give your dog support. When a dog gets into their cart, they feel secure and quickly learn that they can safely step without falling over or their legs giving out on them. That assurance that they can move safely is a huge confidence boost.
Important benefits of using a dog wheelchair
It keeps dogs active and helps maintain mobility
Increased stamina and endurance
Maintain and build muscle tone in pets who have weakened
Improve a pet’s emotional well-being
Provides rehabilitative support
Although at its most basic, a dog wheelchair is a mobility aid, what it really does is give your dog the support they need to live their best life.
What to consider when choosing the right dog wheelchair for your pet
1. Your dog’s size
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Even dogs in the same breed can be different weights, so it’s important that they get an adjustable wheelchair that will adapt to their needs. The Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair is available in four frame sizes. The right size for your pet is determined based on their weight.
Mini wheelchair – best for pets between 2 – 10 lbs.
Small wheelchair – recommended for small breeds between 11 – 15 lbs.
Medium wheelchair – fits pets weighing between 26 – 49 lbs.
Large wheelchair – for large dogs between 70 – 180 lbs.
A dog’s weight isn’t the only important factor to consider. Your dog’s height needs to be taken into consideration as well. The measurement of your dog’s back leg height will determine the right wheel and strut size that will let your dog stand naturally.
2. A pet’s condition and medical need
There are many reasons why a dog may need a wheelchair. Some pets will rely on a cart for short-term rehabilitation and recovery after an injury or surgery. While other dogs may be paralyzed or dealing with progressive mobility loss, these pets will most likely need a wheelchair to stay active for the rest of their life. Regardless of why your dog needs a cart, their individual diagnosis may mean they need certain wheelchair features to stay comfortable and mobile.
Dogs dealing with degenerative disc disease will most likely need additional mid-body support. Look for a wheelchair that includes a belly support band to keep the center of the body lifted and supported.
Dogs with DM will experience constant changes to their mobility need. Most DM dogs experience hind leg weakness in the earliest stages. As the condition progresses, it will move up the spine to impact the front limbs as well.
Dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy require a wheelchair that will adapt along with them. Choose an adjustable rear wheelchair that can convert to a full support wheelchair when needed.
As pets get older, they can lose strength in their back legs, which can mean loss of muscle, occasional balance issues, and getting tired on their daily walks. A cart can be an important tool to help maintain a dog’s mobility as they age. A rear wheelchair supports a dog’s back legs to give them the support they need to stand and walk naturally. Your senior dog will still be able to use their hind legs while in the cart, which allows them to maintain the muscle mass they have and support them as they move.
Dogs with Joint Pain and Stiffness
Arthritic pets and those with stiff joints may find it painful to place a lot of weight on their legs. A wheelchair’s support reduces the pressure placed on their legs, making it easier for them to walk. For dogs with arthritis in their hips and back legs, choose a rear wheelchair. If the front legs are impacted, a full support or four-wheel cart will be the best option.
Wobblers and Other Canine Neurological Conditions
A neurological disorder can impact a dog at any age. Tremors, maintaining balance, and impaired motor function are common symptoms of a canine neurological issue. A full support cart provides balanced support in the back and front legs, which allows a dog with Wobblers to stand while fully (and safely) supported.
Are there any limitations to using a dog wheelchair?
A dog’s wheelchair means freedom. Freedom to stay active and, most importantly, to spend more time with their family. There are very few limitations to using a dog wheelchair, however, as a pet parent, it’s important to know how to use your dog’s cart properly.
A dog’s wheelchair is not intended to be used all day; your dog needs time to rest and relax, just like you do. Your best friend needs mobility support during times of activity and to help them get exercise. When they become tired or are done playing, they should be taken out of their cart so they can rest.
A dog’s wheels can take them just about anywhere, but your best friend should always be supervised during cart time. Avoid stairs and water while using a cart, as these can be dangerous for a wheelie dog. If your dog is still getting used to their cart, we recommend taking them outside to a wide-open area where they can safely run and play as they adjust to their new wheelchair. This will give your dog a safe environment to learn how to turn and maneuver its cart without bumping into anything. And remember to take it slow. Your dog will be excited to
How to properly adjust and maintain your dog’s wheelchair to ensure optimal comfort and safety.
Adjusting your dog’s new cart to fit them is about more than just how it looks. When the wheelchair is properly fitted, your dog will be more comfortable, making it easier for them to move naturally and safely during cart time.
The Correct Height for a Dog’s Cart
When adjusted correctly, your dog should stand in a natural position while in their wheelchair. Their rear legs should be comfortably positioned, and the wheelchair should be tall enough to support them. When at the right height, the black knuckle should sit at the exact center of a dog’s hip. The leg rings (the rear support) should sit below the frame so your dog is in the cart, not above it. It’s important to get the leg rings properly positioned; too low, and your dog isn’t getting enough support – for most pets, the leg rings will sit a few inches below the wheelchair frame.
Keep the Side Bars Level
To keep your dog supported, the side extender bars should run parallel to the ground and be centered on the dog’s body. If the bars point down towards the ground or up towards the sky, it will be difficult for your dog to walk, and they won’t be properly supported. If this is happening, a few simple adjustments to the front harness can help to level your dog’s wheelchair.
The Proper Wheelchair Width
With an adjustable cart, you can widen or narrow the wheelchair to fit your dog more comfortably. Your dog should have about an inch of space on either side of their hip between them and the cart. This will allow them to get the support they need, while keeping them comfortable. A too-wide or too-narrow wheelchair will be uncomfortable and make it more difficult for a dog to walk naturally.
A wheelchair is a life-changing tool, for both you and your best friend. Your dog’s wheelchair allows them to maintain their mobility and enjoy the time you have with your dog. Why not give your dog the support they need to live the active life they deserve.