If your canine companion is getting on in years or has recently suffered an injury to their hind legs, they might require a little more help than usual. It could be that they cannot climb in and out of the car like they used to, or they need a little more support on uneven ground. This can be very difficult to achieve, especially with larger dogs who can be too heavy to lift or support safely or effectively. Whatever the cause a dog lift harness can help in many cases. But, with so many different types and styles of dog lifting harness on the market, where do you start when it comes to choosing the right one for your pet pooch? Our panel of pet experts and dog lovers have put together a list of the 10 best dog lift harnesses to help you make the right choice for you and your dog.
Best Dog Lift Harness Buying Guide & FAQ
As well as knowing the best products on the market, it is important to understand why these harnesses are the best. Knowing what to look for in a dog support sling is vital. In this section of the guide we look at this, as well as why dogs might need a harness, and how best to measure your dog for a dog support harness. We also explore some of the most frequently asked questions about lifting harnesses.
What to Look for in a Good Lift Harness
When choosing a dog lift harness, you primarily want a harness that is capable of supporting your dog’s weight safely and comfortably. However, as these slings come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, it can be difficult to determine which slings actually achieve this. So, there are some things that are essential to look for in a good lift harness.
- Comfortable materials
The material used in a dog sling needs to be strong, durable, and flexible. This enables it to wrap around your dog, support its weight, and last for a long time. However, if it is not also comfortable, your dog will not want to use it. An uncomfortable sling may also rub, causing your dog further pain and discomfort. Poly nylon blends are commonly used, and sheepskin is another popular option. If nylon or similar materials are used for the sling, then the side of the sling closest to your dog’s body should be lined with a soft material, such as fleece. Always check for padding, particularly on the parts of the sling that are in contact with the underside of your dog’s belly. Another area to check for comfort is the edges. If the edges are rough, then these could cause discomfort over time. Don’t forget about your comfort as well. Check the materials used in the handles and straps to ensure you don’t end up with hand cramps or blisters while trying to support your pet pooch.
- Ergonomic Design
Even with a sling or harness, you are still lifting or supporting a lot of weight. The harness should be designed to distribute the weight of your dog evenly, and to let you hold them at a suitable height. The best either have adjustable straps or multiple carry points specifically for this reason. It is also important that the sling does not shift the weight or put undue stress and pressure onto other areas of your dog. This could cause damage and additional wear on other muscles and joints.
- Proper Fit
A properly fitting harness is a must. If it is too loose, you risk your dog slipping out of the harness or it not working and providing little or no support. If it is too tight, then it can cause rubbing and irritation, and even affect the blood supply to their extremities. Consult the manufacturer’s guide and measure your dog carefully to ensure you buy the right size. Also, when purchased, use the guides to ensure that it is fitted correctly. It is a good idea to test the harness in a safe space indoors, before taking your dog out in it.
Why Do Dogs Need Lift Harnesses?
There are numerous reasons why a dog may need a lift harness. Generally, they are beneficial to dogs and owners where the dog can no longer entirely support their own weight or are less mobile than they should be for their breed. This may be due to old age, illness, injury, or a period of recovery following surgery. Some of the most common conditions where a lifting sling may be useful include:
- Hip Dysplasia
If a dog’s hip joint fails to develop properly or suffers increased wear, this can lead to a loss of cartilage. This is known as hip dysplasia and it can ultimately lead to bone-to-bone contact. This causes pain and reduced mobility. A lift harness that is designed to give rear leg support can help a dog with this condition to undertake activities that have become painful and difficult, such as walking up and down stairs and getting in and out of cars.
- Traumatic injuries
A dog’s strength and stability can be limited by a variety of traumatic injuries including sprains and broken bones. A support harness can help with difficult tasks from stairs to going out to the toilet. It can also ensure that your dog maintains their mobility level and weight, reducing the risk of further health problems that can result from inactivity over extended periods of time.
Medication can reduce the pain and inflammation that are a part of this condition, but a harness can also help by providing additional support on days when the condition flares up and increases pain levels and reduces mobility.
- Recent surgeries
Gentle exercise is generally beneficial after surgery as it helps to maintain general health and wellbeing. Where they surgery affects mobility levels or means that extra care and support are needed, a sling or harness can help. As well as improving mobility it can reduce the risk of your dog’s stitches popping from over stretching or over exertion. However, you should discuss using a sling with your vet as part of your dog’s post-surgical care.
- Old age
Just like humans, dogs often lose mobility or experience reduced mobility as they age. A lifting harness can help them to maintain healthy mobility and take some of the strain off their joints during difficult activities or during times when they are finding things more difficult.
You May Also Like Our Review of the Best Dog Harnesses.
How to Measure for the Best Dog Lift Harness
The exact measurements you need depend on the type of harness you purchase. You should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines for how best to measure your dog. However, generally, you need to know your dog’s weight to ensure that the support sling can effectively and safely support their weight. The length of your dog’s torso from the joint on the front legs to the joint on the back legs can also be relevant. This prevents you from buying a sling that is too wide and which might rub in these delicate areas. You may also need to know the circumference of your dog’s torso to ensure that the sling you buy fits around them securely but is not too tight. Your dog’s height may be required to ensure that the handles are at the right height for you to lift and support your dog. In terms of our top pick, you need to purchase the sling that best fits your dog’s weight and torso circumference.
Q: What is a lift harness?
A: A lift harness is a heavy-duty strap or sling that fits around your dog and allows you to support their weight when they are unable to do this for themselves. Generally, these types of harnesses fit around your dog’s torso, although they can be combined with a normal walking, hiking, or training harness. The harness usually comes complete with secure closures to keep the sling in place and durable strong handles to help you lift your dog’s weight safely.
Q: How do I use a lift harness?
A: Harnesses, such as our top pick, wrap around your dog’s torso, with the lifting straps at the top. The sling should be positioned correctly to distribute your dog’s weight evenly and give you control as well as a good supporting position. Once secured in place, check your dog is comfortable before using the handles to help support their weight. The more you pull up on the handles, the less weight your dog is supporting. It is important to read the manufacturer’s guide for the specific harness that you buy to ensure proper fitting and usage.
Q: Can my dog go potty while wearing a lift harness?
A: Yes, dogs can go potty while wearing a lift harness. However, some harnesses need to have a protective cover removed for male dogs to urinate without it going all over the sling.
Q: How do I clean a lift harness?
A: Most harnesses are machine washable. Some can also be machine dried, but most should be air dried. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that you take the right care of your lift harness.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick for the perfect dog lift harness is the Labra Veterinarian Approved Dog Canine K9 Sling Lift. This harness is an essential accessory if your pet pooch is suffering from limited mobility. The sling enables your dog to continue enjoying activities that they might otherwise find too painful or difficult. It is also perfect for helping dogs undergoing physical rehabilitation. The sling is comfortable and made with a soft fleece lining across your dog’s midsection. The design helps support their weight when you need to lift them, and the adjustable straps give you the perfect fit and support for both you and your dog. The sling is made from strong and durable material and is designed to hold the weight of any dog breed. It is available in four sizes, so you can choose the one that best fits your dog’s size and weight.