A dog wheelchair can seem like a drastic measure. There is something equally heart-warming and sad about watching dogs in these chairs.
On the one hand, many use them with great ease. They seem to have regained a sense of freedom and joy that might otherwise have been taken away from them. On the other, there is obviously a story of pain and heartbreak behind the need for the chair. Finding the best dog wheelchair is essential for owners to give dogs that quality of life they deserve after an injury or life-changing diagnosis.
Finally, we have a short guide on some of the other considerations that go into this decision. This includes tips on when it is time to buy a wheelchair, training dogs and other health and safety issues.
Best dog Wheelchair 2019: Our Top Picks
Below we have a series of wheelchairs that are highly rated by users. These chairs come in different styles and have their own pros and cons. The highlights are presented here to help you compare the options a little better.
Dog Wheelchair Categories
Before we look at those dog wheelchair reviews, we need to consider the different types that are available. There are different types of doggie wheelchair available depending on the needs of the dog. These include:
- Back leg support: The most common type of chair is the dog wheelchair for back legs. This offer two wheels at the back to help those with minimal function in their hindlimbs. These often have stirrups for those with no back leg mobility at all.
- Front leg support: Other models have small wheels and support around the neck to help animals with issues in their front limbs. Again, it is about encouraging animals to move and strengthen damaged limbs.
- Full support: Then there are dog mobility carts that offer a bit of everything. They have straps across the body, support on the neck, stirrups for hindlimbs and four wheels.
The latter is the scariest and the most difficult to use. But, these advanced systems can be helpful for those with multiple issues or severe paralysis. The opposite end of the scale is the basic frame with back wheels for hindlimb rehabilitation. Make sure to pick the category that suits the medical condition of your dog.
Top 7 Dog Wheelchair Reviews
This option is one for smaller dog breeds. The smallest size is suitable for animals 11-17lbs with legs that are 3-6’’ long. The largest is for those 18-25lbs and with legs that are 12-15’’. This is a veterinarian approved product with an adjustable harness, lightweight aluminium frame and big wheels.
As the name suggests, this product is the next size up for animals that are a little larger. The smallest chair here is for those 26-49lbs with leg sizes of 8-9’’, while the largest is for the same weight bracket, but leg sizes of 16-18’’. There are lots of similar features here. There is the same choice of colours, the same adjustable harness and a nice use of materials across the chair.
The first major difference here is the fact that this isn’t for a specific size of dog. They extend from extra small – which is dogs between 5 and 15 pounds – to large dogs that weight 50-80lbs. There isn’t much here in the way of the looks. The white frame is stark and basic and looks like your basic medical therapy device. Still, the design works and pups with complete loss of function in their back legs can gain mobility.
This is another option that looks more like a piece of medical apparatus than a stylish chair for a walk in the park. There is a clear focus on the support for the dog in different formats. Owners can either use this as a support system for re-training the hind legs or as a way of offering complete comfort and no weight bearing. This means that is should suit extra small dogs – 9-14’’ tall at the rear end – with different medical needs.
This model is different because it focuses on either foreleg support or full body support. The product can look a little scary at first because of all the different elements, but there is a lot here designed to help our pet. There are two different sets of wheels, including little casters at the front. There is also a support system around the neck, a belly band for the spine and a lightweight frame.
This chair takes a very similar approach to the one above in regard to the design and features on offer. Instead of the harness and stirrups seen in some of the other models, there is just a frame, some adjustable straps for the chest and belly bands for the spine. There are two basic wheels for motion, but the dog is expected to do most of the hard work itself.
This final product is another one that allows for different types of therapy for forelimb, hind limb and full body experiences. Make sure to look at the size options carefully because there are 2 wheel and 4 wheel options available in medium, small and extra small. This range means that there should be an option for many different dogs. The system includes the adjustable frame, support on the neck and chest, stirrups for the back legs and two types of wheel.
When should wheelchairs for dogs be considered?
Pet wheelchairs are an important tool for any dog that experiences a loss of function in their limbs. This could be a temporary issue, where the dog can rehabilitate and get back to full mobility with time. Or, it could be a more permanent issue due to irreversible paralysis or weakness in the legs.
As we saw with the different wheelchair types above, this could affect the forelimbs, hindlimbs or all four. There are different medical conditions that may be to blame for these mobility issues. Many conditions relate to the bones and joints, such as dysplasia and arthritis. This can inhibit the movement of joints and cause pain when walking. A wheelchair could provide relief here. Some may need temporary help after surgery or while rehabilitating ligament issues.
There are more serious injuries to the legs that may result in paralysis or even amputation. Finally, there are neurological conditions where dogs start to exhibit weakness and a lack of coordination.
How do you know if your dog is able to support himself in a wheelchair?
This is an important question when choosing the right kind of product for your pet. It is possible to carry out a forelimb strength test using a towel. The idea here is that the dog must walk with ease on its front legs while the back legs are held up in a level position. A towel is a great substitute here as it mimics the sensation of being held in the harness of a wheelchair. If the test is successful, your dog should be able to use a dog wheelchair on their own. But, this is only possible with the right training.
Training dogs to use handicap dogs wheelchair.
There are lots of cute videos online of dogs running around in the park and having great fun in these wheelchairs. However, this experience won’t happen overnight. A wheelchair is a strange new contraption that your pet needs to get used to. It can take time for them to be comfortable with the chair and learn to move around in it. It may take some time before they realise that they can’t use it to walk or run in the same way as before. The good news is that dogs are smart, resilient creatures and can adapt well to this new approach with the right training.
Training may require some patience and a lot of positive reinforcement. We can’t expect our dogs to want to be in this wheelchair from day 1. This is a new, strange object in their lives and they probably won’t appreciate the feeling of being restrained within it. Give them some time to sniff around and get used to the look and smell of the chair. Then you can spend some time training your dog to get used to the harness and the feel of being in the chair. This could take a little longer if your dog needs full support on their back legs. Keep up the praise and treats to reassure them. Gradually increase the time they spend in the chair and the distance they travel until they are confident enough to head outside on their own.
Safety tips for dog wheelchairs to help dogs get the most out of the experience
The biggest safety tip here is to make sure that you keep an eye on the dog at all times when they are in the chair. It is vital that you are there to help in case there is a problem with the harness, or if the chair gets caught on a branch or stuck in the mud. The last thing you want is for your pet to injure themselves while they are meant to be exploring and having fun. Don’t forget that this is also meant to be a mobility tool for periods of activity. The dog shouldn’t be forced to live in the chair the whole time. This means that you need to help them on and out of the chair and provide suitable support around the house. Be gentle when securing dog into the wheelchair and be aware of areas that are particularly painful for them.
Seek advice from vets and other medical support services where possible
Our guide can only offer you an introduction to the subject and the opinions of pet owners. There are sure to be other considerations here based on the conditions and personal needs of your pet. That is why it helps to talk to medical professionals and specialists that are experienced with dog mobility issues and their underlying causes.
Vets can help you manage conditions or set up physiotherapy sessions. This is especially important for pets with temporary disabilities. Animals with more complex needs, such as especially large breeds, may benefit from a bespoke wheelchair from a specialist provider.
Don’t forget that this is all about providing your pet with the best possible quality of life. A dog mobility cart should be a support system that gives an otherwise healthy, happy dog the chance to get active and play with the family once again. If a loss of function in the front or back legs is the only thing keeping them down, the right dog wheelchair can be of help. However, we shouldn’t use these wheelchairs as a way of prolonging the suffering of an animal. If there are additional health issues affecting the mobility, bodily functions and happiness of the animal, it may be time to consider putting them to sleep. Again, a vet can help you make the right call here. The last thing you want if for your pet to suffer, so consider all options rationally.
What have we learned about finding the best dog wheelchair for our poorly pet?
There is clearly a lot to take into consideration when choosing the best product for your pet. The best wheelchair for one dog isn’t going to suit everyone else. This doesn’t just relate to the size of the chair and the weight allowance. You also need to think about the purpose. If your dog can use their back legs a little with help, the frame needs to reflect this. If not, look at the support system and comfort of the materials. Off-road wheels are also important and you can’t overlook the colours and designs.
There are some dog wheelchair options in this guide that may seem a little sterile and disconcerting at first. There is an adjustment period for all concerned. However, you should find that will some patience, encouragement and support, you can both handle this change. Don’t be afraid to talk to manufacturers, vets and other pet parents. They can help you understand the products and training involved in this decision. Take care to find a chair that will offer freedom, mobility and joy for your pet. The right choice can offer a whole new lease of life for an exciting new chapter.