Best Wheelchairs For Dogs (Reviewed & Tested) 2018

Mobility options are widely available for dogs that need them today. If your dog requires permanent or temporary mobility assistance, you should have no trouble finding the right aid. From walking sling harnesses to carts, there is something for all pups, yet wheelchairs are undoubtedly one of the best options. In this buying guide, you will discover everything you need to know about purchasing a wheelchair for your dog. This includes our selections in terms of the best wheelchairs for dogs, as well as some useful tips on what you need to consider when choosing a wheelchair.

Best Wheelchairs For Dogs Buying Guide

How Dog Wheelchairs Work And Why Should You Use Them?

The way in which the wheelchair works depends on what type of wheelchair your dog needs – full support, rear limb support, or forelimb support. The dog’s rear limbs or fore limbs will either be supported by the wheelchair so that they can walk using their stronger limbs while the wheels do the rest of the work. There are many benefits associated with dog wheelchairs. They can assist with rehabilitation, as well as giving your dog the freedom to live a happy life despite mobility issues. You will be amazed by what a wheelchair can do for your handicapped pet.

wheelchairs for dogs

When Should Wheelchairs For Dogs Be Considered?

Wheelchairs are suitable for dogs that have mobility issues. There are many different reasons why a dog could have mobility issues. This includes the following:

  • Neurological issues
  • Amputations
  • Arthritis
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal problems
  • Surgery recovery
  • Accidental injuries
  • General limb weakness
  • Soreness
  • Knee and ACL problems
  • Sudden paralysis
  • Arthritis and dysplasia
  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

This is a mere handful of examples that can lead to a wheelchair being required. Let’s take a look at some of the more common conditions in further detail, starting with DM.

  • Degenerative myelopathy: This tends to occur in dogs that are a bit older, i.e. aged between eight and 14-years-old. The condition occurs when there is a loss of connectivity between your pet’s spinal cord and brain. Dragging of the feet and excessive wobbling are just two of the common symptoms pets will display when suffering from this type of condition.
  • Dysplasia and arthritis: Joint stiffness is something that dogs will experience if they suffer from dysplasia or arthritis. Dysplasia can be caused due to your dog’s overall health while arthritis is because of old age. No matter what condition your dog has, it can make it challenging for him to be supported by his own legs. Basic tasks like walking or running can be incredibly painful, which is why a wheelchair is advised.
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD): This is a common condition that is caused by the deterioration or displacement of the cushion between the spinal discs. This is a painful and uncomfortable disease that can impact any type of dog. Paralysis or weakness of the legs may happen depending on the level of damage. The stage of the condition will determine what type of wheelchair is needed and what for. For example, in the early stages, a wheelchair may be used for rehabilitation. However, it may become a tool required for your dog’s daily needs if your dog becomes paralysed because the damage is so severe.

Will All Dogs Benefit From A Wheelchair?

No – wheelchairs are not designed for all dogs. They are only suitable for dogs that have mobility issues. There is no need to purchase a wheelchair for your dog if it can move freely with ease. If you are unsure as to whether a wheelchair would be right for your dog, the best thing to do is consult with your vet.

What Makes A Good Dog Wheelchair?

There are many different types of wheelchairs on the market for dogs today, and it is not so much what makes a good dog wheelchair, but more what makes a good wheelchair for your dog specifically. There are a number of different factors you should consider when looking for a wheelchair for your dog. This includes the following:

  • The towel test

The towel test is one of the best ways to determine what sort of wheelchair you should be looking for. In fact, this is something that most canine wheelchair manufacturers recommend. So, what exactly is the towel test? This is designed to help you determine how strong your dog’s forelimbs are. Basically, you are to support your dog’s hips and abdomen using a long towel. Make sure their feet do not touch the ground. Is your dog strong and can he move forward with ease using just his forelimbs? If so, it is likely that a rear-support canine wheelchair will be best suited. However, if your dog finds it a challenge to take steps or stumbles, a full-body support wheelchair or a forelimb support wheelchair will be better suited.

  • Your dog’s diagnosis

Aside from the towel test, your dog’s diagnosis will also be considered when determining the right type of wheelchair. So, let’s take a look at each type of wheelchair in a bit of further detail…

  • Full-body mobility support

These wheelchairs are designed for dogs with partial paralysis or rear limb and forelimb weakness. A lot of these pets will fall or stumble whenever they try to walk. These devices are the most costly, as they come with a number of settings to make sure the right level of support is provided for your dog especially. Not only this, but these dog wheelchairs can also help dogs post-surgery to relieve stress along the spine, or if your pet sufferings from some sort of spinal disease. Essentially, your dog will benefit from this type of wheelchair if he has one of the following conditions:

    • Generalised weakness
    • Spinal trauma
    • Amputation
    • Arthritis
    • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
    • Cerebellar hypoplasia
    • Ruptured disc
    • Degenerative myelopathy
    • Post-surgical support for hip, disc, or knees
  • Forelimb wheelchairs

This type of wheelchair is most beneficial for a dog that is experiencing mild to severe forelimb dysfunction or weakness. Some of the models can help to eradicate roughly 70 per cent of the weight bearing experienced on your dog’s front legs. These wheelchairs can also come with head rests, which provide added relieve from pain and support. Your dog will typically benefit from forelimb support if he has one of the following conditions:

    • Generalised weakness
    • Spinal trauma
    • Amputation
    • Arthritis
    • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
    • Cerebellar hypoplasia
    • Ruptured disc
    • Degenerative myelopathy
    • Post-surgical support for hip, disc, or knees
  • Rear limb wheelchairs

Last but not least, we have rear limb wheelchairs, which are typically beneficial for dogs that are weak in their rear limbs yet strong in their forelimbs and otherwise want to be active. There are many different designs you can choose from when going for this type of wheelchair. For example, if your dog still has some mobility, choosing a wheelchair whereby his feet touches the ground is worth considering, especially if you have a dog that is looking to regain some mobility after rehabilitation. Your dog will typically benefit from rear limb support if he has one of the following conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
  • Post-surgical rehab for hip, spine or knees
  • Rear limb amputation
  • Trauma
  • Ruptured disc
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Generalised weakness
  • Arthritis
  • Wheels

You need to consider the wheels carefully. They need to have a deep tred, as well as being flexible, large, and lightweight. Anything too big will be too difficult to move, though, but equally a smaller tire will get stuck easier, which is why you need to find a good balance.

dog in a wheelchair

How To Help Your Dog Get Used To A Wheelchair

You cannot expect your dog to simply know how to use a wheelchair – you will need to train it. Here are some tips to assist you:

  • Apply common sense training tips

The first thing you need to do is apply a bit of common sense. Let your dog get used to the wheelchair and do not foster anxiety. Let your dog sniff it and get comfortable, rather than diving right in.

  • Make sure the training is consistent

Some dogs will find the transition very difficult, and so consistency is key. They may even be frightened of the wheelchair, so you need to be patient yet ensure that training is regular.

  • Take things very slow

Even if your dog responds well to being in the wheelchair, you should only keep him in it for a short period of time and reward heavily. In between sessions, give long breaks. Once your dog starts to move around in the wheelchair, reward it with praise and treats every step of the way.

  • Contact your vet if you need further help

If you are still struggling to get your dog to tolerate being in the wheelchair, you should speak to your vet or contact a local dog trainer for assistance.

Sources

  1. Tips to Help Your Dog Get Used to a Dog Wheelchair, Walkin’ Pets Blog
  2. Dog Wheelchair Comparisons – How to Choose a Wheelchair?, Dogs With Disabilities
  3. When Does A Dog Need A Wheelchair?, K9Carts
Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for MyPetNeedsThat.com, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!