The Complete Guide to Buying a Dog Wheelchair

How to determine the right size wheelchair for your pet

Choosing the right size wheelchair for your dog is easier than you might expect. You only need two pieces of information to determine what size Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair is best for your pet: their weight and a measurement of their rear leg height.

1. Know your dog’s weight

Your pet’s weight determines what size wheelchair frame your pet will need. Use the wheelchair measurement guide below to see which dog wheelchair is recommended for your pet based on it’s weight and size:

2 to 10 lbs. – Mini Wheelchair

11 to 25 lbs. – Small Wheelchair

26 to 49 lbs. – Medium Wheelchair

50 to 69 lbs. – Medium/Large Wheelchair

70 to 180 lbs. – Large Wheelchair

There are special wheelchairs sizes for both the dachshund and the corgi whose long bodies may need a little extra length.

2. Measure your dog’s rear leg height

Your dog’s rear leg height measurement should be taken with your dog lying down on its side. First, hold your dog’s hind leg in a natural, standing position. In this position, the leg shouldn’t be stretched out but have a natural bend. To get an accurate measurement, measure from where the leg meets the torso down to the bottom of your dog’s paw.

For dogs under 25 lbs., you may be asked for an additional body length measurement. This measurement is called the armpit to rump measurement or ATR. The ATR is taken from the back of the front leg, through the center of your dog’s body, all the way to the end of the body (at the rump).

Want help choosing the right size Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair? Enter your pet’s breed, weight, and measurements into the SureFit® calculator to have our online wheelchair selector find the perfect size wheelchair for your pet.

Understanding the different types of dog wheelchairs

The right kind of wheelchair for your pet will be based on where they need the most support. For example, a rear wheel dog wheelchair is the type of cart most often required. Most pets with mobility problems experience hind leg weakness or paralysis. Therefore, a rear wheelchair is best for dogs with limited or no use of their back legs. In s style of cart, the back wheels are aligned with a dog’s hips offering support directly underneath a dog’s hind end.

A full support or quad wheelchair is for pets who have lost both front and back legs. Along with the two wheels in the back, a quad cart also features two wheels at the front of the dog. A four-wheel wheelchair is often used for pets with a degenerative mobility condition or neurological disorder. This style of wheelchair offers balanced support on all four legs. Typically, the front wheels on a quad wheelchair are caster wheels, which allow the dog to turn and maneuver the wheelchair easily.

Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Rear Wheelchair
Full support dog wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Full Support Wheelchair

The third type of wheelchair is a front-wheel wheelchair, and just like it sounds, this style wheelchair has wheels positioned at the dog’s front legs. Most often, a front-wheel wheelchair is needed due to a conformational deformity or missing limb(s).

Is a Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair the right cart for my pet?

There are many benefits to choosing an adjustable dog wheelchair over a custom-built wheelchair. Here are a few of the reasons why a Walkin’ Wheels adjustable dog wheelchair may be right for your pet:

Quick ordering and shipping

Since the Walkin’ Wheels is intended to fit a wide range of dogs, each wheelchair can be shipped the same day! No long wait times or delays, which means your dog can get back on its feet even sooner. Place your order before 3:00 pm EST, Monday through Friday, to have your new Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair can ship the same day.

A dog’s weight can fluctuate

Just like in humans, a dog’s weight can change. Dogs that have been inactive for a while can experience significant weight gain. Once they get into their new wheelchair, they’ll move more and get regular exercise, which can help them maintain a healthy weight. An adjustable dog wheelchair allows you to widen or narrow the width of your dog’s cart, so their wheelchair always fits them, regardless of how much they weigh!

The wheelchair can adapt to change with your pet’s mobility needs

Disabled dog wears boots while on a walk in wheelchair

A pet’s mobility loss can change with time. Many mobility conditions are degenerative, meaning the pet’s leg strength will worsen. For example, in the early stages, a dog may experience some weakness in their back legs which may progress to hind leg paralysis.

We want to encourage these dogs to continue walking on their back legs as long as possible. They should start with their back legs touching the ground to continue to exercise those leg muscles. When that same dog is paralyzed, use the stirrups to lift the back legs off the ground. They can continue to walk in the wheelchairs, but the legs and paws are elevated to prevent dragging and scrapping.

A dog diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy will experience significant changes in mobility as the disease progresses. In its earliest stages, the hind legs will weaken and become paralyzed. Expect the dog’s symptoms to worsen until the DM affects the front leg strength. Dogs with DM will need a wheelchair that will change with their condition. The Walkin’ Wheels rear dog wheelchair is designed to convert to a full support wheelchair with the simple addition of the front wheel attachment. This allows one dog to use the same cart throughout and avoid the expense of purchasing multiple carts.

Easy to fit

The Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair features adjustable height, length, and width. So you can finetune the fit of your dog’s cart easily. Each adjustment is as simple as a push of a button, similar to how you’d adjust your own crutches. And the best part, if you have a growing dog or your dog’s body shape changes, the wheelchair can be adjusted to accommodate them.

Common reasons why a dog may need a wheelchair

There are many different reasons why a dog may need a wheelchair. Although many dogs will rely on a wheelchair their entire life, a mobility aid can also be beneficial in the short term as a pet heals.

Short Term Uses for a Wheelchair

  • During injury recovery
  • As part of their rehab therapy
  • To reduce the weight placed on painful joints (can be used permanently for this purpose as well)
  • Cruciate injuries and CCL tears: can be a surgery alternative, allow for continued mobility during recovery, or preventative to reduce pressure placed on the remaining healthy knee.

Long-Term Uses for a Wheelchairs

corgi wheelchair
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Hind leg weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Cerebellar Hypoplasia
  • IVDD
  • Chronic osteoarthritis or severe hip dysplasia
  • Wobbler’s Syndrome or CVI

Dogs, cats, and other pets need to use a wheelchair for a whole host of reasons. Wheelchairs can provide stability, help pets stand, and help keep pets walking. Whether they only use the cart on days when they’re tired or stiff. Or rely on a wheelchair for a short time as they heal. Or need a wheelchair all the time. However and whenever your best friend uses their wheelchair the goal is the same – to keep pets active!

How to use a dog wheelchair

Using a dog wheelchair is easy. The first step is understanding how the wheelchair works and what each part does for your best friend.

Wheelchair Parts: What the are and how they work

A dog wheelchair is constructed of many different wheelchair parts. Each piece of the wheelchair has a unique function and use. Here is a brief overview of the different parts of your pet’s Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair.

Wheelchair frame

This is the most important part of your dog’s cart. All components of your pet’s wheelchair will attach to the frame. The size of the frame is determined by your pet’s weight.

When you get your wheelchair, you will see the width connector comes already attached. This silver metal bar at the back will allow you to adjust the width of the cart using the push buttons. On the side of the wheelchair frame are the knuckles and attaches the leg of the wheelchair to the frame.

Side Extenders

These are the silver bars that attach to the wheelchair and run along the center of your dog’s body. Once your pet is in the wheelchair, the front harness will attach to the side extenders. To adjust the length, simply use the push buttons on either side of your dog to shorten or lengthen. When fitted correctly, the side extenders should stop right behind your dog’s shoulder blades.

Wheels and Struts

Available in a range of sizes. Your pet’s wheels and struts are based on their rear leg height measurement. Attach the strut to the leg of the wheelchair frame and use the push buttons on either side to get the right height for your pet. Repeat on both sides.

Leg Rings

The leg rings form a saddle underneath your dog’s hind end. Your pet’s leg rings are foam covered and will look like back-to-back c’s. The leg rings attach to the wheelchair frame at four points in the back of the car. Your pet’s legs will be placed on either side of the leg rings. The leg rings will help to reduce the weight on your dog’s back legs and offer them comfortable support.

Front Harness

The harness sits across your dog’s chest, over the back, and behind the front legs. A three-pronged clip called the D-Ring is on either side of the front harness. These clips will slide over the side extender bars and clip into the mount pad on the wheelchair. The harness helps to keep your pet in its wheelchair and keep it properly aligned.

Stirrups

The stirrups attach to the silver metal loops on the back of your dog’s wheelchair frame. Your dog may not ever need the stirrups. We recommend using the stirrups only if your dog’s hind legs are fully paralyzed and need to be elevated off the ground. To use, first attach the stirrups to the silver loops on the back of the cart and put your dog into their cart. When ready, lift one leg off the ground at a time, and place through the stirrup. The stirrup should sit right above the dog’s hock.

Belly Belt

The belly belt is an optional support that attaches to either side of the side extenders and supports under the spine. Most often used for dog’s with a bad back, spinal issues, or those that need additional support in the center of the body.

How to get the perfect fit for your dog’s new wheelchair

Here is a quick guide to walk you through what your dog’s wheelchair should look like when it’s adjusted correctly:

How to adjust a Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair infographic
dog wheelchair for retriever

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