Our dogs are treasured members of our families, and our best friends.
But sometimes they need a little extra help to keep up with us — enter the dog wheelchair.
We share some of our most fun and happy moments with them, and take comfort from their companionship. When we get a dog, we commit to caring for them throughout their lifetime — even when things get rough — and some dogs require a little more help than others.
Just like us humans, some dogs, whether through accident or ill health, become disabled and require the use of a wheelchair in order to live life to the full, and to enable you to continue to enjoy life with your pet.
This can be a heartbreaking situation for owners — and distressing for your pup — but thankfully help is at hand, as there are plenty of affordable, quality wheelchairs for dogs on the market.
Let’s find out more…
Why Do We Need Wheelchairs for Dogs?
There are many reasons why dogs may need wheelchairs. Even the most well trained and seemingly healthy of pups can suffer injury or succumb to disease or age related problems that affect their mobility.
With a dog wheelchair, your dog can continue to enjoy life even when the odds are stacked against him. Dog wheelchairs can give your dog a new lease of life, making sure he gets the exercise he needs and the fun and mental stimulation he craves despite his handicap.
Here are some of the conditions that may necessitate your dog having a wheelchair — both in the short and long term…
- Hip dysplasia
- Degenerative myelopathy (loss of connectivity between the brain and the spinal cord)
- Luxated patella
- Slipped or disintegrated spinal discs
- Certain cancers
- Loss of limb due to trauma
- Age related aches and pains
- Limb weakness (e.g. severe sudden hind leg weakness)
- Post surgery rehabilitation
- Neurological problems
- Damaged ligaments
A dog wheelchair for back legs provides support to assist the dog when walking, running and playing.
This means that despite whatever other physical problems they may have, they can still enjoy the crucial exercise they need to be as healthy as possible and prevent them gaining weight.
For handicapped dogs who have restricted mobility but are responsive, motivated and show a lust for life, they can be a complete life changer.
How Does a Dog Wheelchair Work?
Generally, wheelchairs for dogs are two wheeled carts that provide support for damaged rear limbs, taking most or all of the weight and leaving the front legs to do the hard work.
Usually the body is supported by a fabric harness or sling, with the back legs tucked up and kept out of harms’ way (unless the wheelchair is being used for rehabilitating the back legs).
This means that in most situations your dog must be able to walk strongly with his front legs, with his back held in a level position, in order to use a dog wheelchair.
That said, however, there are many different designs on the market which cater for different handicaps, and which give different degrees of support to the front legs as well as the back legs.
Wheelchairs can be used indoors, but they are most practical outside, and there are a variety of different tires available to suit different terrains.
And, of course, the bigger the dog the bigger the wheelchair, so you must take this into account when considering which dog wheelchair to buy.
Smaller dogs with shorter legs may be able to lie down whilst in the wheelchair, but larger breeds may need to have the wheelchair removed in order to rest.
In most cases, dog wheelchairs are not meant to be used for extended periods of time, and dogs in wheelchairs should never be left unattended, just in case the wheelchair should get stuck or caught on something when you’re not around to help.
Most dogs love to exercise and play outside while in their chairs, but they also need time to relax and recuperate from the activity, so time out of the wheelchair is no bad thing.
If your dog is unhappy and not motivated to exercise, a wheelchair may not be the right solution, but in most cases it can give your dog the freedom and fun he yearns for.
Your vet can work with you to decide if a dog wheel chair is the best choice for your furry friend.
The Best Wheelchairs for Dogs
When it was first released in 2008, the Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair caused a bit of a sensation.
It was the first dog wheelchair model that was not custom built. Instead it is a kit that comes in a range of base sizes (small for dogs under 25 lbs, medium for dogs from 25 to 69 lbs, large for dogs 70 lbs and over) that can then be adjusted to fit your dog’s unique dimensions perfectly.
The frame is made from a lightweight aluminum that is strong and durable, yet easy for your dog to use and pull around. The wheels are designed to be effective with a variety of different terrains.
Both the frame and the comfortable fabric harness are adjustable, and you can choose from three cheerful colors; camouflage, blue or pink.
- Veterinarian approved
- 3 sizes that are suitable for all shapes and sizes of dog
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Medium and large sizes fold flat for simple transportation or for storage
- Comfortable for your pet
- Adjustable size means it can grow with your pup if necessary
- Easy to put on and take off
- Individual parts are replaceable – good longevity
- Customers must assemble the parts themselves (instructions and DVD included)
- Some of the plastic parts feel a little flimsy
Here’s a quick video on how easy it is to put one of these wheelchairs on your dog:
Truly revolutionary, the SitGo dog wheelchair enables your dog to both move around freely and sit or lie down whenever they like.
This has an added benefit for larger or heavier dogs as the back can be lowered to allow you to get them in place and attach the chair with ease, causing less stress to your dog, and to you.
The sturdy adjustable frame is constructed using lightweight aluminum and stainless steel, and the harness is made from a practical neoprene fabric that is comfortable for your dog and easy to keep clean.
The SitGo is available in extra small (9″ – 14″), small (13″ – 17″), medium (16″ – 20″) and large (20″ – 29″) sizes: simply measure your dog’s height at their hindquarters to find the best fit.
- Designed by an orthopedic veterinarian
- Highly durable, yet lightweight
- Offers an excellent range of mobility and independence
- Allows your dog to sit and relax with ease
- Easy assembly
- Most dogs take to the design with ease
- Well constructed
- Great as a rehabilitation aid or for total rear support
- Assembly required
- Screws can loosen over time so be sure to carry out regular maintenance checks
One of the most affordable options in our review, the Best Friend Mobility is a dog wheelchair for back legs which gives dogs either full or partial weight bearing assistance.
Like the other models on our list, the adjustable frame is lightweight aluminum which is a comfortable weight for your dog to pull, and easy for you to pick up and move around.
This dog wheelchair come with an excellent set of all terrain wheels, allowing your dog greater movement in a variety of environments.
The padded neoprene harness clips on easily, is easy to keep clean, and doesn’t restrict your dog’s toilet needs. T
his chair is available in six sizes at the hindquarters; extra extra small (8″ – 11″), extra small (9″ – 14″), small (13″ – 17″), medium (16″ – 20″), large (20″ -26″) and extra large (23″ – 29″).
- Good range of base sizes to ensure a good fit
- Very affordable compared to other brands
- Practical, non-corrosive frame
- Good quality for the price
- Effective for a wide range of mobility problems
- Assembly can be a little complicated
- Build quality is not as high as more expensive models
- Screws and adjustment points may need ongoing adjustment and tightening
This is our best low budget model adjustable dog wheelchair which comes in a range of five sizes to fit most pooches.
While this is a basic device, it still offers many features similar to higher end models, such as a light aluminum frame and adjustable fabric harness to give your dog both comfort and freedom of movement.
There are push buttons to easily modify the dimensions of the frame to suit your dog.
The design is functional rather than pretty, but nevertheless it is a great contender for dog owners who can’t afford to invest in a higher end model of dog wheelchair.
- Simple, effective design
- Comfortable for your dog
- Lightweight and easy to move
- Accessible price for most people
- Good quality considering the low price
- Can be a little tricky to assemble
- Screws may need regular tightening
And that’s our complete guide to wheelchairs for dogs!
Featured image is by Handicapped Pets (CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)