Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Wheelchairs

The first time a dog owner hears about dog wheelchairs, might because their dog has become paralyzed or is having a hard time getting around. And that can mean a lot of unanswered questions. Here are some of the more common questions that pet parents have about dog wheelchairs and how they work:

Why do dogs have wheelchairs?

Disabled Ukrainian dog first time in dog wheelchair

There are many different reasons why a dog might need a wheelchair. Typically, a dog needs a wheelchair when it has lost strength in its legs, has difficulty walking unassisted, or is paralyzed. Rear leg paralysis is one of the most common reasons a dog needs a wheelchair. 

A dog may need a wheelchair if it is dealing with any of the following conditions:

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Spinal disease
  • Severe hip dysplasia
  • Cruciate tears or ruptured CCL 
  • Recovering after a traumatic injury or surgery
  • Neurological deficits
  • Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH)
  • Rear leg paralysis
  • Wobbler’s Disease
  • Senior dog dealing with mobility loss 
  • Hind leg weakness

What size dog can get a wheelchair?

Wheelchairs are available to fit all sized pets. For example, the Walkin’ Wheels adjustable dog wheelchair will fit dogs as small as two pounds up to large dogs weighing one hundred and eighty pounds.

There are six different Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair sizes:

  • Mini wheelchair – for dogs under 2 lbs. 
  • Small wheelchair – for dogs  11 to 25 lbs. 
  • Medium wheelchair – 26 to 49 lbs.
  • Medium/Large wheelchair – 50 to 69 lbs.
  • Large wheelchair – 70 to 180 lbs.
  • Corgi wheelchair – a specially made frame, designed to fit the long torso of a Corgi. 

How do you choose the right size wheelchair for your dog?

An adjustable dog wheelchair offers you the most flexibility. It’s very easy to size your dog for its new cart. All you need is your dog’s weight, breed, and the measurement of your dog’s rear leg height. Enter your dog’s measurement into the Walkin’ Wheels SureFit Calculator, which will tell you exactly what size wheelchair your dog needs. Not sure your measurement is correct? No worries, the wheelchair experts review every wheelchair order before it ships. If they think your measurement isn’t quite right, they’ll give you a call.

Walkin’ Wheels offers three ways to shop for a dog wheelchair:

Selecting the right size wheelchair for your dog is critical. A wheelchair that is too small or too large may make it difficult for your dog to walk.

How do you measure your dog for a wheelchair?

Measure your dog lying down on its side. Most dogs that need a wheelchair cannot stand at their full height when standing. Even the dogs that can support their weight, their back legs may bend and lack the strength to stand correctly. This may mean that their rear leg height measurement is shorter than it should be. 

How to measure your dog for a cart:

  1. Lay down on its side
  2. Position their back leg in a natural standing position with a slight bend. 
  3. Measure the rear leg, from the crease where the thigh meets the body all the way to the toe pad. This measurement would be the height of your dog’s back leg if they were standing fully. 

Are there different types of carts for dogs?

There are many different styles of dog wheelchairs, each one designed to offer different levels of support. The three main types of dog wheelchairs are:

  • Rear wheelchair – hind leg support
  • Full Support or Quad wheelchair – a four-wheeled wheelchair that supports all four legs
  • Front Wheel wheelchair – support for a dog’s front legs only 

A rear wheel wheelchair is the most commonly needed wheelchair for most dogs. This style of cart acts as a replacement for a dog’s back legs. A wheel is directly underneath each rear leg, in line with the hip, providing balanced support so a dog can stand and walk while assisted.

Rear Wheelchair

Active dog in his Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair Camo color
A dog wheelchair for weak or paralyzed back legs.

Full Support Wheelchair

Quad dog wheelchair for full body support
A full body support dog wheelchair for all four legs.

Can my dog go to the bathroom while using a wheelchair?

A dog can pee and poop while using a wheelchair. Leg rings support the dog’s hind end from underneath, leaving plenty of space in front and behind the dog to defecate cleanly. 

Getting a dog into a wheelchair makes it easier for them to relieve themselves. Giving a pet the support to stand upright allows everything to move naturally. Bringing your dog on a walk and showing them all their favorite spots will help encourage them to pee and poop while in their wheelchair.

Male Dog Pees In Wheelchair

Female Dog Pees in Wheelchair

How do you get a dog into a wheelchair?

Everyone has their own way of getting their dog into a wheelchair. The best way is what works for you and your dog. We recommend you start with the front harness. While your dog is sitting, place the front harness over its head and adjust it to fit comfortably. Next, line the wheelchair up right behind your dog. The leg rings should already be attached to the wheelchair frame. Now, gently lift your dog’s back legs and place them through either leg ring. Finally, lift the wheelchair frame and clip in the front harness.

My dog can still use its back legs. Can it use a wheelchair?

Wheelchairs are intended to help dogs exercise and move their back legs. For a dog that maintains function in its back legs, a wheelchair will help them maintain muscle mass, prevent further atrophy, and help the dog to rebuild leg strength. Using a wheelchair will not discourage your dog from using its back legs. Instead, using a wheelchair will make it easier for your dog to exercise, which may encourage them to walk even more.

How do you fit a dog for a wheelchair?

The fit of your dog’s wheelchair is essential. In addition, the wheelchair’s support must be correctly balanced for your dog to feel comfortable.

Here’s what to look for in a dog wheelchair that fits perfectly:

  • The side extender bar runs parallel to the ground, through the center of the dog’s body. Therefore, the extenders should never point towards the ground or tip upwards. 
  • The knuckle of the wheelchair sits in the center of the dog’s hip
  • Your dog should be able to comfortably touch the ground and push off gently to propel itself forward. 
How to adjust a Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair infographic

How long will it take for my dog to become accustomed to a wheelchair?

Corgi wheelchair for dog that can't walk

Every dog’s experience is a little different, and most dogs will adjust very quickly to using a wheelchair. Most dogs realize very quickly that the wheelchair is helping them, and they immediately notice that they can walk again. 

Other dogs may need more time to become accustomed to their cart. Work at your dog’s pace and make it a rewarding experience. Lots of praise and plenty of high-reward treats are great to keep on hand as your dog is adjusting to life on wheels. If your dog seems tired or nervous, take them out of the wheelchair and give them a break. Try again in a few hours after your dog has rested a bit. Remember, it’s probably been a while since your dog has been able to walk. The first time they try out their cart, they are getting a workout. 

For timid dogs, it may help to leave the wheelchair out in a room they use frequently. This will allow your dog to approach the cart at their own speed, sniff it all over, and get comfortable with it being around. In addition, it can be helpful to reward them every time your dog goes near the wheelchair, this helps to build a positive relationship with their new cart. 

Can my dog lie down while using a wheelchair?

Dog wheelchairs are designed support your dog in an upright and standing position. Encouraging canine mobility and exercise. A wheelchair should never collapse on your dog’s back legs.

Some smaller breeds, such as dachshunds or corgis can rest on their front legs with a pillow underneath them for short periods of time.

How long can a dog be left in a wheelchair?

Your dog should never be left unattended while in their wheelchair. While dog is first adjusting to their wheelchair, limit their wheelchair time to 10 to 15 minute increments multiple times a day until they build up their endurance. Every dog requires a different amount of daily exercise, and you will find what works best for your dog.

Can a dog wheelchair be used indoors?

Yes a dog wheelchair can be used inside the house. Although the size of the dog, width of the doorways and hallways are determining factors. Most small to medium sized dogs have no issues using their cart inside the house.

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