Should I Get My Dog a Wheelchair?

It goes without saying that all of us want the very best quality of life for ourselves, our family members, and of course, our pet dogs.

Life must be lived to the fullest, and if there are ways and means to do so, we owe it to everyone to search out the best possible solutions to make that happen.

Often, when a dog’s age, they end up with arthritis, an injury, or some other debilitating ailment that prevents them from enjoying their regular walks. In fact, all of these problems can make a dog’s life downright miserable. A dog wheelchair might be the solution.

When my dog fell on ice and sustained an anterior cruciate injury, I thought I would have to put him down. But thankfully, after the vet and orthopedic surgeon examined him (under anesthetic), it was decided he would live.

But they said he would have been too disabled to run around and enjoy his dog walks. Well…There was no way whatsoever that I could accept that, and I immediately started looking for ways for him to continue enjoying his outings to the park.

First, my brother-in-law built a little dog ramp that fits perfectly in the slot of the sliding door on the van. Now my dog could get in and out without jumping and putting pressure on his badly damaged knee.

Second, I found out what dog equipment was available that I could use to help him live his very best life. If he couldn’t walk on his own, then I would need a dog wheelchair for him or some kind of mobility wheels.

I knew I could build a good quality of life for my dog. And I want you to know if your pet dog is disabled, you can too!

Table of Contents

What Is A Dog Wheelchair?

Basically, a dog wheelchair is a cart to help with dogs’ mobility. Whether the animal:

  • Is missing a leg
  • Experiences paralysis
  • Has had some injury
  • Is at the age where deteriorative diseases, such as degenerative myelopathy, are common
  • Is a breed prone to certain debilitating conditions such as canine hip dysplasia or arthritis

Whatever the particular circumstance or ailment of a particular pet dog. The wheelchair will help the dog walk again and is great for paralyzed dog care.

They become the missing limbs, and in cases where the legs don’t work so well, the dog wheelchairs carry the load removing the pressure from the dog.

Remember, too, that the stress is not only on the sore area but also, the added workload causes the heart to work much harder.

In the heat, especially, it could be deadly. Therefore, the best dog wheelchair helps promote healthier conditions for your dog by lightening the load on their bodies.

dog wheelchair for arthritis

Using the dog wheelchair can sometimes be a permanent situation, but, in some instances, it will be temporary as it is only needed to help with rehabilitation after surgery or a serious accident.

The wheels also come configured to work on the front legs or rear, whichever is required.

Whatever the reason, dog wheelchairs are miracle inventions, really, and can make a huge difference to the quality of your dog’s life.

In my opinion, the absolute main purpose of any mobility aid is to maintain a dog’s quality of life!

When the snow is deep in the wintertime, my dog and I can’t get out to the park due to both our injuries. I can see the sadness and frustration on his face.

So I know firsthand that anything that can let my dog do what he does naturally is a bonus for us both. We both feel happier now he is running around in the chair.

He loves to root around, and he does have some hound in him. So smelling and following scents are his way of having fun. I wouldn’t want to deprive him of that simple personality trait.

It gives me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction, knowing he is enjoying his life and being a normal dog.

What To Look For When Choosing the Best Dog Wheelchair

Finding the right set of wheels is crucial to your dog’s independence and his or her ability to use the new dog wheelchair.

For you to know what features or variables to research, I have compiled a list for you of the most important pointers to look out for:

Size

Size is absolutely the most important item on the checklist when buying a dog wheelchair for your pet. The higher-quality manufacturers and the brands (we judge this from customer reviews) will clearly explain how to measure your dog for the right-sized doggy wheelchair.

Weight

Weight will be another factor to look at. Depending on the dog’s physical condition (particularly with much smaller dogs), you will want to make sure the wheelchair is lightweight enough to be used properly and comfortably. It should be enough for the dog to manage its own weight in addition to the cart, so you want something solidly built but easy to handle.

Can A Dog Pee or Poop in the Wheelchair?

Believe it or not, whether the dog can pee and poop while in the dog wheelchair is important. When I looked for a wheelchair, several of them were hopeless. The bars on the configuration were not well thought out, and the dog couldn’t do their business without making a lot of unpleasant mess!

Unnecessary Accessories

Watch for extra stuff that hinders the dog. Again, much like the previous point, the cart’s design needs to take a dog’s body and personality into consideration. You don’t want it to become a hindrance to your pet. It is supposed to help, NOT get in the way!

Is It Appropriate for the Dog’s Favorite Activities?

Likewise, can he or she do all/most/some of the things they did before? My dog wants to root around under leaves and around fences and benches so he can smell what other animals have been there. If he can’t do that stuff anymore, he just won’t be as happy as he used to be.

adjustable dog wheelchair

Ten Steps To Help Your Dog Become Accustomed To The Best Dog Wheelchair Cart

My biggest concern about wheelchairs for my dog was that my dog would hate them. He doesn’t like anything stopping him from going where he wants and is nervous about clunky things that might hit him.

So, I decided to find a method of getting him used to it that wouldn’t stress either of us out more than necessary.

I thought it through very carefully before getting started, and yes, if you are wondering, I treat my pet dog like a fur baby!

As I did this, I created a step-by-step list too. I tried and tested all of this on my own dog, and hopefully, it will help your dog.

1) Let Your Dog Inspect It

Put the dog wheelchair together and keep it in the living room or dining room so the dog can see it and smell it. He or she will want to inspect it to find out what it is. By being near it, they won’t feel so threatening. It becomes part of the house and not something to be wary of.

2) Start Slow

As the doctor in the video below says, this is a slow, step-by-step process. Your dog will probably not instantly like their new wheelchair and will most likely not start walking right away. Instead, you will need to try it on him or her for a few minutes at a time, so they can adjust and get used to it.

3) Put It On At Home First

Don’t try to put the cart on you dog for the first time at the park or some other busy, less controllable space. Everything will be too overwhelming for the dog, and you want to be comfortable yourself with how it works.

Some people will come to you to help or watch, but in this instance, it will be too much, especially if they don’t know what they are doing.

The dog will be more at ease, testing it out at home with family at a quiet time and in a safe space.

4) Do Some Trial Runs at Home

Do a few trial runs in the backyard or driveway. You will have to watch out for holes in the ground and any unstable patches and see how the chair handles.

5) Don’t Get Frustrated

Get yourself and your dog accustomed slowly to the dog wheelchair and try not to get frustrated if you can’t figure things out and make it perfect the very first attempt. There are plenty of videos like the one I found. Plus, you can read the notes from the manufacturer. That’s the beauty of the internet. There is always some way to find help and guidance.

6) Find A Quiet Public Area

Once you are ready to actually go out somewhere and travel by car, upon your arrival, try to find a quiet area to put the harness and wheels on your dog. It would be nice if you could get to an area all by yourself, but you may have to do it around traffic, people and other dogs. So having practiced plenty of times at home, will now be really appreciated for all concerned.

7) Wear the Harness Around the House

Let your dog get used to the harness. My dog doesn’t wear a harness. I would prefer him to have one instead of a collar because it is more comfortable and safer to control. But I don’t trust those with the hook and loop adhesive knockoffs. And I haven’t found one that I think is durable enough for his weight. But since he has never worn one, he would need to get used to the harness that goes with the wheels. I would probably have him wear it around the house a few times first.

8) Avoid Using the Wheelchair Inside the House

Unless you have a huge home, letting the dog roam around the house with the cart on is not a good idea. It will bang into things and get stuck on furniture. Not only will that scare most dogs, but it will also hamper their progress in getting used to it.

One thing to try in the house is a drag bag. We did some reviews of Drag Bags here.

9) Use A Lot of Positive Encouragement

To get the dog walking for the first time, you can coax the dog to come forward by offering their favorite treat. In the beginning, though, don’t make him or her walk too far. They will only get frustrated if they can’t get to the treat without your help. And if they are weak, sore, or had surgery, you will need to go slowly and for short distances only in order to rehabilitate safely. DON’T OVERDO IT! ESPECIALLY IN THE BEGINNING.

10) Stay Close

Stay close to the dog while testing the dog wheelchair and using it for the first few times so that they hear your voice and have the reassurance of knowing that you are very close by.

Build a DIY Dog Wheelchair

pvc dog wheelchair for back legs
DIY Dog Wheelchair

We thought the best way for you to learn about building a do it yourself doggy wheelchair is a video.

But there are a lot of them out there! So we searched around and found this one that we think is the easiest to follow.

Also, the end result is a very cheap but still robust and high-quality DIY chair for your pooch to run around in.

It is just made from PVC pipe, some easy to find wheels, and some nuts and bolts.

NOTE – After watching the YouTube video about making a dog wheelchair, please see our additional points to help you even more.

BTW – We wrote about the cost of a dog wheelchair here.

Dog DIY Wheelchair Important Points

  • Watch the video a few times to make sure you understand it, it’s only a few minutes long, and it is worth making sure you have fully understood it.
  • Write down a list of all the materials and tools that you will need.
  • Get all the required stuff together. Make sure you have all of it.
  • Double-check that you have cut all the PVC tubing to the right length and have the right amount of PVC fittings.
  • If your dog is larger or smaller than the one in the video, then you will need to adjust the sizes but make sure you keep the same proportions to the build stays the same.
  • Assemble the homemade dog chair without glue on the PVC pipe to make sure it works and fits on to your dog, ok.
  • Then slowly and carefully rebuild it using glue, giving the PVC glue plenty of time to harden.
  • Test it on your dog in a safe area like a backyard, give them time and practice and get used to the new wheels.
  • Go out for a nice long walk with your pet dog and enjoy the new quality of life they have with their new dog wheelchair!

Some Advice from a DVM Veterinarian

Posted just below is a really great video from a qualified vet showing us how to put the front harness and the back wheels on a dog wheelchair for a pup with hip dysplasia or arthritis in the hind legs.

The only thing I disagreed with was the second option the vet showed for putting the wheels on Sunny, the gorgeous yellow Labrador Retriever.

I do not think it is a very good idea to put the dog’s legs into the straps while they are attached.

Now, I must admit I am speaking from my own dog’s injury, but it seems to me it would hurt the legs by trying to make them go in that way.

Needless to say, it would depend on the dog’s pain and condition, and obviously, the vet would know that before doing this, so I am sure it is nothing to worry about.

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