Tips to Choosing the Right Wheelchair for Your Dog: A Guide to Mobility and Happiness
Will a wheelchair help my dog?
- Injury: A traumatic injury or surgery can leave a dog temporarily or permanently unable to use their hind legs.
- Degenerative Diseases: Conditions like arthritis, hip dysplasia, or degenerative myelopathy can gradually reduce a dog's ability to walk.
- Neurological Disorders: Neurological issues, such as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), can result in paralysis or hind limb weakness.
- Old Age: Senior dogs often suffer from joint pain and muscle weakness, affecting their ability to move comfortably.
- Birth Defects: Some dogs are born with congenital disabilities that require mobility assistance from an early age.
Dogs Experiencing Freedom With Their Wheelchairs
How a Wheelchair Can Benefit Your Dog
- Regained Independence: A dog wheelchair provides mobility to dogs who might otherwise be confined to a small area or struggle to move at all. This newfound freedom allows them to explore, play, and maintain a sense of independence.
- Physical Exercise: Regular exercise is vital for a dog's physical and mental well-being. A wheelchair enables dogs to exercise their front limbs and maintain muscle strength, even if their hind legs are compromised.
- Improved Mental Health: A dog that can move around freely have a good sniff is a happier dog. Wheelchairs combat boredom and depression that often result from immobility.
- Pain Relief: By taking the weight off their weakened or injured limbs, a dog wheelchair can reduce pain and discomfort, promoting a better quality of life.
- Prevent Further Damage: For dogs with neurological issues, wheelchairs prevent them from dragging their hind legs, which can lead to sores and injuries. This helps in preserving their overall health.
Tips to Choosing the Right Wheelchair for Your Dog
Size and Fit: Ensuring a proper fit is crucial. Measure your dog's length, that is the pet length from shoulder to rump. Measure your pets rear leg height, that along with their body weight will determine the appropriate size.
Dog Weight: Choose the right wheelchair size based on your dog’s weight.
The Mini is suitable for pets between 2-10 lbs. (0.9-4.5 kg)
The Small is suitable for pets between 11-25 lbs. (5 - 11kg)
The Medium is suitable for pets between 26-49 lbs. (11-22 kg)
The Med/Large is suitable for pets between 50-69 lbs. (22-32 kg).
The Large is suitable for pets between 70-180 lbs (31-82 kg)
- Wheel Type: Consider the terrain your dog will encounter. If you have a large yard with rough terrain or walk along off-road paths, opt for all terrain pneumatic wheels. Foam, smoother wheels are better for indoor or paved surfaces.
- Adjustability: The frame struts alongside the body also fit into the stuts that connect to the wheels and floor. The frame struts must be adjustable. It may take a few goes to get the ratio and proportion in balance to your dog body and rear leg height. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so customization is essential.
- Comfort: Check for padding and support in the wheelchair harness design. The wheelchair harness fits around the chest, shoulders, and belly. The more comfortable the harness is for your dog the more likely he/she will feel confident moving around in the wheelchair.
- Stirrups: In the case where your dog’s hind legs are affected, ensure the dog wheelchair includes a stirrup system. This will allow you to safely secure the hind legs above the ground and avoid any dragging or injury.
- Ease of Use: It will likely take some time to train your dog to get in and out of the wheelchair. Patience and practice will assist to make this process easier. As time goes on, with positive reinforcement your dog will soon look forward and be eager to get into the wheelchair.
- Durability: Invest in a sturdy, high-quality wheelchair that can withstand your dog's activity level. You want a product that will last.
- Veterinary Consultation: Always consult with your veterinarian before purchasing a wheelchair. They can offer guidance on your dog's specific needs and help you make an informed decision.
Types of Dog Wheelchairs
- Rear Support Wheelchairs: These wheelchairs support the hind legs, allowing dogs with rear limb paralysis or weakness to regain mobility.
- Front Support Wheelchairs: These wheelchairs support the front legs and are suitable for dogs with front limb weakness.
- Quad Full Support Wheelchairs: For dogs with both front and rear limb issues, quad support wheelchairs offer comprehensive support and mobility.