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When a large dog has difficulty walking on their own it is a challenge for the entire family. The simplest everyday tasks become impossible, even getting your dog outside to pee or poop becomes a monumental task.
A fully grown, large dog typically weighs 55 lbs. or more. Bigger dogs also age faster than smaller pets, a large breed dog is typically considered a senior dog at the age of 6. As large dogs age, the wear and tear on their joints are prone to arthritis, hip dysplasia, and degenerative joint conditions from carrying their weight over the years. Dogs with joint pain often struggle to stand up and walk on their own, luckily a dog wheelchair can make a huge difference!
Benefits of a Large Dog Wheelchair
Large breed dogs, like labs and golden retrievers, love to run! Losing strength in their hind legs or struggling with their mobility loss can leave a formerly active dog unable to enjoy their favorite activities, leaving them depressed and immobile. The longer a dog is inactive the more likely they are to gain weight, lose muscle tone, and experience muscle atrophy. A dog wheelchair gives your dog the hind end support they need to get back on their feet and back outside.
Not only does a dog wheelchair help your dog to exercise, it is a perfect rehabilitation aid. While using a dog wheelchair your best friend increases their stamina, builds up their leg strength and can slow down the progression of their mobility condition. Contrary to popular belief, your dog does not have to be paralyzed to benefit from using a dog wheelchair. Even dogs with full use of all four legs, can continue to walk and run while using their cart! The support of their mobility cart provides your dog with the stability and support they need to run, walk, and go to their bathroom on their own.
Lifting and carrying a large dog isn’t always possible. A dog lift harness is great when you need to help your best friend up the stairs, but it doesn’t let your dog maintain their independence. A canine mobility cart lets your dog be a dog. With wheels your large dog can go hiking, play fetch, and enjoy every minute with their family.
Why Would a Large Dog Need a Wheelchair?
There are many reasons why a large dog may need to use a dog wheelchair. Most dogs need wheelchair support because they are experiencing leg weakness or joint pain. When a dog loses leg strength it becomes difficult for them to bear full weight on their legs or support themselves without your help. Here are a few common mobility conditions that impact larger pets:
Severe hip pain from arthritis or hip dysplasia
Degenerative Myelopathy or DM – very common in German Shepherds
Traumatic orthopedic injury
Degenerative joint disease
Cruciate tears and knee injury
Slipped disc or spinal condition
Difficulty walking or staying upright
Many dogs will rely on the support of a wheelchair for temporary reasons, such as post surgical recovery. Orthopedic injuries, especially to the knee and hip joints, are very common in bigger dogs. A dog wheelchair can be used as a rehabilitative tool to get them up on their feet faster, allowing for continued mobility with bearing their full weight on their injured leg.
Finding the Right Wheelchair for Your Large Dog
German Shepherd Wheelchair
Degenerative Myelopathy or DM, is the most common reason why a German Shepherd would need a wheelchair. DM is a mobility condition that worsens over time, starting with hind leg weakness that progresses to paralysis before it moves up the spine to impact the dog’s front leg strength.
Since dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy experience worsening mobility, it’s important that their wheelchair adapts with their changing needs.
All DM dogs will eventually require a wheelchair to stay mobile, it’s important to choose an adjustable dog wheelchair, like the Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair that has a front wheel attachment that can be added when it’s needed.
Labs are incredibly athletic and active dogs. Most often their mobility problems will stem from an ortho injury to the knee or hip. Whether your Labrador retriever is dealing with crippling arthritis or a knee injury, a dog wheelchair reduces the amount of weight placed on their injured leg but it also encourages them to stay active.
It’s vital to keep your Lab active and mobile. Depression can set in quickly if they are unable to get the exercise they need. Additionally, many disabled Labradors gain weight rapidly when they are “down”. Any excess weight makes it even harder for your Lab to stand and walk when unassisted. Getting your Labrador Retriever a wheelchair will get them back on their feet sooner, promote mobility, and help them keep their weight down as they heal.
Hip dysplasia is a common mobility concern in Golden Retrievers. A Golden Retriever with hip dysplasia may have a deformity of the hip joint or the ligament isn’t strong enough to keep the hip from subluxating. Every time a dog’s hip subluxates, the joint pops out and back into place wearing down on the joint which makes every step painful.
A Golden Retriever wheelchair supports your dog from underneath, cradling your dog’s hips to reduce the pressure on the joints. With the support and stability of a dog wheelchair your dog will be able to enjoy his daily walks and it will be easy for him to pee or poop while using the wheelchair. Best of all a Golden Retriever wheelchair gives you more time with your best friend!
Great Danes are considered a giant breed dog, since Great Dane puppies experience rapid growth both joint and bone diseases are common. Under 5% of Great Danes are diagnosed with Wobbler Syndrome. Also called cervical vertebral instability, or CVI, Danes with wobblers experience spinal cord compression in their neck that makes it difficult for them to stand, walk, or control their movement.
CVI dogs experience balance and stability problems, making a full support dog wheelchair with four wheels the best option to keep them upright. The stability of a dog wheelchair allows them to maintain their balance and continue walking even when they can’t control their limbs.
Staffordshire Terriers, also known as Pitbulls, are powerful dogs and capable of moving quickly. This puts Pitbulls at risk for hip problems, orthopedic issues, as well muscle or ligament tears, all of which can impact their hind leg function. Their leg problems can be hereditary, but many develop due to their high activity levels.
The Pitbull is at high risk for knee problems, their muscular build means a lot of weight is placed on their CCL making it susceptible to cruciate tears. A dog who injuries one knee has a 60% chance of injuring their other knee within the year. A dog wheelchair is a non-surgical means of supporting your dog’s injured knee while still allowing them to remain active. A Pitbull wheelchair will not only lessen the weight load on your dog’s injured knee but help to lower the risk of them injuring their healthy knee.
Just like German Shepherds, degenerative myelopathy is very common among Boxers. Boxers with DM will show signs of clumsiness and leg weakness in their hind legs. One study found that over 57% of Boxers tested for the genetic mutation for DM were considered at risk or affected by the condition. Meaning Boxers are at great risk for inheriting the genetic mutation, making the risk of paralysis quite high among the breed.
A paralyzed Boxer will quickly experience atrophy in their hind legs, so a Boxer wheelchair is key to helping them maintain as much muscle mass as possible. Keeping them active will help them build strength and increase their endurance. Boxers with DM should choose dog wheelchair that is adjustable. This gives them the ability to add front wheels later when they need support in their front legs.
A large dog wheelchair not only improves your dog’s mobility, but it will change your best friend’s life. With the help and support of a rear dog wheelchair your pet can stay healthy and active. Most importantly, your dog gets to enjoy every minute with their family. A dog’s wheelchair gives them them back their independence and freedom to live life to the fullest.