The short answer to this question, yes, dogs can still use their hind legs in a wheelchair! The long answer is a bit more complicated, but is still a resounding YES! While many of the dogs you see in wheelchairs are paralyzed in the rear legs or are missing the back legs, that doesn’t mean that those are the only conditions that can benefit from a wheelchair. Dogs who have use of their back legs can still be assisted by the help of a dog wheelchair.
4 Reasons Why a Still Mobile Dog Can Benefit from a Wheelchair
Dogs who still have feeling and movement in their hind legs can benefit immensely from using and being in a wheelchair. A wheelchair gets dogs back on their feet after a trauma or surgery so they can start to rebuild their leg strength.
Strengthen a Dog’s Hind Legs
Dogs with weak back legs may have their legs give out or collapse under them. A dog wheelchair can prevent this from happening. When using a canine mobility cart, a dog’s back legs are supported and allow them to stand up and stay active for longer periods than they could while unassisted. Over time and with regular wheelchair use, a dog with weak back legs can increase their leg strength and stamina. A wheelchair is even more vital for those dogs in the beginning stages of progressive diseases that could eventually lead to complete paralysis.
Using a Dog Wheelchair During Recovery
Utilizing a dog wheelchair as part of a dog’s rehabilitation and recovery is very common. In many cases, an injured dog can still use their back legs and maintain its leg strength but needs additional stability. A wheelchair provides the balance and stability a dog needs as they are recovering from surgery.
Common canine injuries or surgeries that require a wheelchair during recovery include:
During recovery, a dog may still have mobility and strength, but due to factors like trauma or genetic problems they may require a wheelchair for rehabilitation.
Help an Old Dog with Weak Back Legs
Just like people, as dogs get older they slow down and tire easily. A previously active dog who begged to go for a long walk may not have the energy to enjoy a hike or stroll when they’re older. A lengthy walk can be difficult for a senior dog to enjoy. Worsening arthritis, stiffening joints, or deterioration of muscle mass in the hind legs can make that daily walk impossible for an older dog.
Using a dog wheelchair on a dog’s walk reduces the weight placed on aching joints and makes it easier for a dog to walk. Additionally, a dog’s cart will help them keep up their activity level and strengthen their rear legs. With their legs down and paws touching the ground the dog gets some much-needed exercise, but is being stabilized by the wheelchair.
Changing Mobility Due to Disease or Illness
Wheelchair use is inevitable for dogs who have been diagnosed early with degenerative diseases, such as Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). Introducing them to a wheelchair early on can be incredibly beneficial. It allows them to get comfortable with the wheelchair and begin using it for short periods throughout the day. With a little extra support, it will be easier for your dog to remain active for longer and maintain its independence. Over time as the dog’s condition progresses they will become fully paralyzed and will require a wheelchair all the time.
Staying active and mobile while they still have movement is important for dogs with degenerative conditions. Prolonging the loss of use in the back legs as the muscle mass can stay up while they are supported in their wheels while still being able to get motion and movement from their rear end. While eventual paralysis is likely, an adjustable wheelchair will adapt to fit their changing mobility needs.
Although many dogs are in wheelchairs because they have no mobility, that does not mean that dog wheelchairs are only for paralyzed dogs. A dog wheelchair is beneficial to any dog who is experiencing balance issues, weak hind legs, needs a little help as they walk, or support as they heal. Dogs who still have use of their back legs can be great candidates for a wheelchair!