How to Safely Lift a Dog with Arthritis

Moving around with your canine friend can be fun. However, the fun can be cut short if your canine friend is diagnosed with a degenerative disease such as arthritis. Since arthritis primarily interferes with the mobility of dogs, you will be forced to learn how to care for and live with your dog under the new circumstances. While pre-arthritic disease diagnoses your canine friend could just jump into the car, in post-arthritic disease diagnostic you will have to help your dog into your car or even when taking stairs.

How Do You Lift a Dog with Arthritis?

The best and easiest way to lift a dog with arthritis is by using dog harnesses, slings and rear end leashes specifically made for lifting dogs suffering from degenerative dog diseases.  Alternatively, you can lift your arthritic dog by wrapping one arm around its backside near its waist, and then the other arm should support its upper chest. Use your legs rather than your back when lifting your dog. In case your dog shows any sign of discomfort, you should carefully set it down gently. And start all over again.

Devices to Help with Lifting Arthritic Dogs

Lifting Harnesses for Dogs with Arthritis

lift dog into car

One of the easiest ways to lift not only an arthritic dog but also an injured dog is by using a dog harness. These devices are made specifically for these tasks from how they are worn on dogs to how they are handled.

For people who do not have upper body strength, using a dog harness can help them lift a rather heavy dog.

A dog harness will prevent slipping, increase stability and ease lifting your dog into your car or when walking your dog. Additionally, a dog harness will also make it easy to offer therapeutic treatments such as hydrotherapy and physical exercise therapy.

The advantage of using a harness for your arthritic dog is the fact that they are designed with part of the dog that is affected by arthritis or injured.

Front Harness Support

For instance, the front harness offers support to the chest and front legs helping dogs suffering from arthritis in their front legs. A front lifting harness is beneficial for dog’s who need help maintaining their balance. Also for dogs that struggle to get their front legs underneath them to stand.

Rear Lifting Harness

A rear harness is best suited for dogs that are suffering from arthritis in their back legs or any other disease that has weakened their back legs. Whether a dog’s back legs are weak or paralyzed a lifting harness is an easy way to support them. Loss of strength in the hind legs is very common in dogs. Rear harnesses can help you safely support your dog as they jump into a car or outside.

Full-Body Harness

Lastly, a full-body harness will help support your dog’s chest, back, and front legs. This type of harness is best suited for dogs that may be suffering from arthritis in both front and back legs. This style of harness provides total body control and is perfect to lift dogs with more advanced arthritis. As well as helps dogs with neurological conditions that cause mobility loss in front and back legs. Full-body harnesses provide complete control and support throughout the body. This style harness is beneficial for dog’s needing help on stairs or need to be picked up regularly.


Support sling for dog surgery recovery

Support slings are very similar to harnesses, the only difference being unlike harnesses that can offer support to different parts of the dog. Slings wrap around the center of a dog’s body and support the entire body of the dog, similar to full body harnesses.

Generally, a sling will go around your canine friend’s midsection as a result slings will make it easy to take some weight off your dog especially when walking.

Rear End Leashes

Rear-end leashes are similar to rear harnesses in terms of their modes of operation. Rear support leashes are made for dogs suffering from back leg arthritis or weakness. Sliding up the dog’s back legs to gently lift and support the hind end.

A rear-end leash will provide support while at the same time give room for your dog to move freely. When you lift the leash slightly, it will provide support to the rear legs by taking some weight off your dog’s rear legs. Reducing the pressure on the joints and making it easier for your dog to walk with assistance. A rear end leash is best for quick walks outside or support as an injured dog heals.

Using Your Hands to Lift

Well, you can still use your hands to lift your arthritic dog or help it with movement. However, you will need to be very careful and have some experience since if done wrongly it can end up hurting your dog. It is not recommended that you lift your dog using only your hands.

The manner in which you lift your dog with your hands will largely depend on which part of your dog is suffering from arthritis. The best circumstances to use your hands to lift your dog would be to board or alight from a vehicle. Relying solely on your hands to lift your dog can be dangerous. Picking your dog up incorrectly may cause them to be improperly supported or hurt. And you can badly strain your back.

How to Pick Up and Lift Your Dog

Different lifting methods can be used depending on the leg or joint affected by arthritis. If your dog has back leg arthritis, tuck one of your arms beneath its midsection and the other arm under its chest area. Start by lifting the back legs. This helps to ease pressure in that section and gently follow it up with the front legs. In case your dog whimpers set it gently down to the starting position.

If your dog is suffering from front leg arthritis, tuck your arms under your dog’s chest and midsection. Start by gently lifting the front area around the chest and follow it up with the rear end. Again if your dog whimpers, set it gently down to the starting position.

In case both of the dog’s limbs are affected by arthritis, more support is needed. Tuck your arms under your dog’s body and lift both the rear and front section at the same time.  

Do not lift a dog that is too heavy for you. Secondly, use your legs and not your back to lift your dog to increase stability.  If you find yourself wobbling or staggering under your dog’s weight you need to find another solution.


While degenerative diseases such as arthritis greatly reduce the mobility of a dog it doesn’t mean it reduces their quality of life. Aid your dog and use the above techniques to ease pressure on your dog’s affected body parts and ease mobility and pain. With your help your dog can life a long happy life.

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One comment

  1. Hi can you email me info my dog is getting over torn ligament right leg I use a ramp she gets around good no more limping still on restricted activity except short walks 3 porch steps 48 lb husky has orthopedic bed carpet and rugs on medication/supplements omega 3 6 9 cosequin DS msm but am looking for a harness and sling the sling I have keeps slipping

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