A dog with Degenerative Myelopathy will inevitably lose mobility in their back legs. Throughout the progression of DM, dogs will lose their hind leg strength before becoming completely paralyzed. To keep a dog with DM active, you must provide support for your dog’s back legs. Although a wheelchair is likely necessary, the first solution is usually a rear lift support harness. Here’s everything you need to know to select the best lifting harness for your dog.
How to Choose a Harness for a DM Dog
When choosing a lifting harness for a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy, there are a few key things that you need to keep in mind, including its functionality, durability, comfort, and adaptability.
The harness needs to be functional
The first thing to consider is when your dog needs the most help. Ultimately, a lifting harness helps a pet parent give their dog the extra support they need to stay active and safely move around.
Does your dog need help only on the stairs? Do they need help standing up? Or does your dog need your help whenever they go outside to pee or poop? With Degenerative Myelopathy, your dog most likely needs help in all of these situations, which is why it’s important that your dog’s harness can keep up!
Every DM dog parent must face the reality that your dog’s mobility loss is permanent. Your dog will need a durable harness to withstand the daily stress of lifting your dog. As DM progresses, your dog will rely on a harness more often. Choose a rugged rear support harness that can hold your dog’s weight.
Comfortable for you and your dog
You never know when your dog needs a boost. Ideally, the harness should be comfortable enough for all-day wear without any rub points. It should be comfortable enough for all-day wear without any rub points. In addition, the harness should be able to be left on your dog without worrying about it slipping off or becoming a tripping hazard.
The best harness to leave on your dog all day is often a two-part harness with an attaching front and rear harness. This will give you the flexibility to support both ends of your dog at any time. Regardless of whether your dog needs a boost off the ground after a long nap or a little extra help on the stairs, you’ll be ready.
The harness also needs to be comfortable for you! Look for a rear harness that features adjustable handles. You should be able to comfortably lift your dog without bending over too much or straining your back.
Adaptable for every stage of DM
The best harness for a dog with Degenerative Myelopathy is one that will adapt with them. Your dog’s leg strength is going to worsen and change over time. Most dogs with DM will exhibit signs of rear leg weakness first. Eventually, the disease will also progress up the spine to impact the front legs. Instead of purchasing a harness that only supports the back legs, consider a full-body lifting harness that can also help the front legs!
Every dog with DM will need a wheelchair at some point. As you research which harness to buy your dog, keep in mind that not every lifting harness is also compatible with a dog wheelchair. It’s important to select a harness that will work with every stage of your dog’s mobility loss.
The Walkin’ Combo Harness is fully compatible with the Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair. And if you convert your rear Walkin’ Wheels into a full support cart, you can swap the wheelchair clips so that the same harness will work for both! The best harness for DM will be easy to use, give your dog proper support, and help your dog stay active.