A dog wheelchair helps pets with mobility problems to exercise. A dog does not need to be paralyzed to benefit from a wheelchair. There are many reasons why a dog would use a wheelchair. Here are a few of the most common:
1. Rehabilitation after an injury or operation
After a serious injury or surgery, weight-bearing may be challenging for a healing dog. An assistive device, like a wheelchair, provides stability, balance, and support to help a dog walk. In addition, many animal rehabilitation specialists will introduce a cart to their patients for short-term use to make it easier for the pet to walk. A healing pup may use a wheelchair for a few weeks or months until it can walk unassisted.
Some rehab practices and vet offices will offer a wheelchair rental program if a cart is only needed temporarily. Pet parents can also rent a dog wheelchair through Walkin’ Pets directly.
2. Neurological Conditions
Neurological conditions such as Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH) or Wobblers can significantly impact a dog’s balance and gait. For example, wobbly steps are the hallmark of a canine neuro condition, which makes standing and walking unassisted almost impossible.
Although a dog’s symptoms can be mild, it’s quite normal for dogs with neurological issues to need a full support wheelchair to walk. The four-wheel cart provides equal balance throughout the dog’s body to keep them grounded and stabilized. In addition, the wheelchair will prevent the dog from falling over, even if its movements are jerky or they lose balance. Most importantly, a quad wheelchair gives dogs with neuro deficits the confidence to walk and stay active.
3. Spinal or Back Problems
Disc degeneration, ruptures, and other spinal conditions can lead to nerve compression and mobility problems. Intervertebral Disc Disease, or IVDD, is the top spinal condition for canine paralysis. Although it is possible for a dog with IVDD to regain the use of its hind legs, in many cases, it can cause permanent paralysis. Many IVDD dogs will use a wheelchair during recovery or for the rest of their lives.
4. Weak Back Legs
Losing hind leg strength and muscle atrophy are common as pets age. But old age isn’t the only reason a dog’s back legs become weak. Many canine health issues can affect the hind legs.
Using a wheelchair will still allow a dog to utilize their back legs, but it will support them so that it can walk without worrying its legs will collapse underneath them. A dog must use their back legs as long as it can. Continued back leg motion will help dogs to maintain the muscle mass they have, can help them improve their strength, and minimize muscle atrophy.
5. Progressive Mobility Loss
Dogs with progressive mobility conditions have increased difficulty walking as the condition worsens. Degenerative Myelopathy, or DM, is this category’s most common mobility condition. DM begins in the hind legs causing them to weaken and then become paralyzed before it moves up the spine toward the head.
6. Arthritis and Joint Pain
Although a wheelchair may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia, it can be vital to a pet’s continued mobility. Joint issues can make it too painful for a dog to walk normally, leading to an uneven gait, a more sedentary lifestyle, and even weight gain.
An active pet is a happy pet. A dog wheelchair will relieve pressure on a dog’s hips and joints, making it easier for them to move. Mobility assistance will provide a sense of lift and support when the pet moves
7. Old Age
As dogs get older, you can expect changes in a dog’s mobility. They may struggle to stand up after a nap, occasionally lose their balance, and naturally slow down. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help a senior pet to lead a more active lifestyle. Daily joint supplements can improve joint health and relieve joint pain in dogs of all ages.
A wheelchair can be a great option for senior pets that have to shorten their daily walk because they get too tired to continue. Just because a dog has a wheelchair doesn’t mean that they need to rely on it all the time, it can be an excellent tool for those “bad days” when a senior pet needs a little extra assistance.
Dog wheelchairs are vital tools to improve canine mobility. Whether a dog needs temporary assistance as it recovers and regains it’s strength or requires long-term support for a chronic condition, a dog wheelchairs give pets the support they need to stay active.