Dog wheelchairs are fast growing in popularity as a viable alternative for pets with a wide range of disabilities, both permanent and temporary. Surgery, disc injuries and spinal lesions that would once confine a dog to his crate for weeks, can now be treated with a dog wheelchair that immobilizes the affected area while offering the dog full mobility. For dogs affected by permanent paralysis or amputation dog wheelchairs now offer a happy alternative to untimely euthanasia.
There are many types of dog wheelchairs, each designed to address different disability levels. To choose the right wheelchair for your dog, consider his level of disability and the degree of mobility you wish to provide him, as well as the cause of his disability. The following information will help you choose the right dog wheelchair for every disability level.
Full Support Dog Wheelchairs
Built with 4 wheels, full support dog wheelchair are intended for dogs who experience paralysis or weakness in all four limbs. Typically, dogs who need the full support dog wheelchair are suffering from cervical disc surgery, spinal lesions, cerebellum hypoplasia, stroke, wobblers or Coonhound Paralysis. The full support dog wheelchairs are built take the weight off all four limbs by redistributing it down the supporting sections of the wheelchair. All four paws are typically attached to the chair with a sling, and the wheels below move as the legs moves.
The full support dog wheelchairs are often used to speed up rehabilitation. They are also helpful with physical therapy exercises that enable the dog to move his paralyzed limbs. Your dog will be able to move around and urinate or pass bowl movements outdoors, while breathing fresh air and feeling more like his old self. At times, a transition from a full support dog wheelchair to a two wheel dog wheelchair will be advisable as your dog improves.
Partial (Rear) Support Dog Wheelchairs
Built with 2 rear wheels, partial support dog wheelchairs look like a metal cart that attaches around the front of your dog while positing his legs either behind the wheels, for complete rest, or beside the wheels for rehabilitative movement. Partial dog wheelchairs are typically appropriate for dogs suffering from disc ailments or injuries, embolisms, fractured spine or rear leg amputations, arthritis, Hip Dysplasia and Cruciate.
Built for dogs with weak hind legs but strong forelegs, rear dog wheelchairs offer pelvic stability as well as correct alignment of the hindquarters. At first, rear dog wheelchairs can be used with the hind legs kept immobilized behind the wheels. As the level of disability improves, the hind legs can be brought to rest beside the wheels, encouraging the dog to begin moving his hind legs naturally as his front paws pull the dog wheelchair forward.
Enforced Partial (Rear) Support Dog Wheelchairs
For dogs who would otherwise benefit from the 2 wheel hind support, but whose front legs are too weak for the job, enforced rear dog wheelchairs offer partial foreleg support as well. Such dog wheelchairs are build with 2 strong wheels in the back, and 2 additional small wheels that offer support in the midriff, taking some of the weight off the tired front legs.
Rear & Front Amputee Dog Wheelchairs
Built with 2 wheels, rear and front amputee dog wheelchairs offer support equal to that once provided by 2 missing legs, either front or back. Weight distribution is shared equally among the remaining limbs by bracing the dog wheelchair to the torso or hindquarters with a thick, comfort pad. For dogs who have lost 2 limbs due to injury or illness, the amputee dog wheelchairs offer an alternative to euthanasia.
Specialist Dog Wheelchairs
For dogs with disability levels that fit in none of the standard dog wheelchairs discussed above, a special order wheelchair is the best alternative. This will include amputees who have lost more than 2 limbs or whose remaining limbs are not side by side (not all front or all back).
Evaluate Your Dog’s Disability
Beyond recognizing the physical conditions responsible for your dog’s disability, it is important that you evaluate his mobility to determine the best level of support required from the dog wheelchair. To mimic the support that your dog will receive from his dog wheelchair, have someone help your dog stand up, then wrap a towel around the dog’s midriff to hold his back straight. Walk your dog in this way and gauge the strength of his limbs. Any stumbling would be indicative of foreleg weakness that may require the enforced dog wheelchair alternative to the standard 2 wheel rear chair.
To view a range of dog wheelchair products with pictures, visit the Pet Mobility Experts at K9-carts, who offer rented dog wheelchairs as an alternative to buying, or Dewey’s Wheelchairs for Dogs who also make custom dog wheelchairs. There are many different dog wheelchair makers that you can find online. Keep the criteria mentioned in this article firmly in mind in choosing the right dog wheelchair for your dog’s level of disability.
For related articles from the same author, here are 30 Important Dog Health Questions & Answers.
K9-carts: Pet Mobility & Rehabilitation.