Most dogs start experiencing mobility problems as they get older due to different reasons such as osteoarthritis, dysplasia, disabilities, injuries, or amputation. Because dogs can’t talk, it’s up to you as the dog owner to be keen and realize when your pet is experiencing any pain or difficulty walking. When that happens, you need to get in touch with your vet right away. He’ll most likely advise you to get a dog wheelchair to help improve your pet’s quality of life.
However, there’s still not a lot of information out there on dog wheelchairs. Because of this, you need to do your research first to understand whether getting one would help your dog. To help make this process easier, here’s a guide on dog wheelchairs and how they effectively help dogs deal with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.
How Do Dog Wheelchairs Work?
The unique design of dog wheelchairs aims to provide your disabled or old dog with the needed help to remain on its feet while standing, walking, exercising, or running. They are effective at doing this because they make the dog feel safe, so it can move with ease, freely, and without experiencing any pain. This is achieved because of the support to the unsteady or injured leg, thereby helping the dog move in whichever direction. Because dogs have different needs, these wheelchairs come in different styles as follows:
- Front support wheelchair
- Rear support wheelchair
- Quad cart or full support wheelchair
Besides the style of the dog wheelchair, you should also check out its aspects before choosing the correct style for your dog. This includes ease of use, size, weight, and other features like the type of frame material and adjustability.
What Medical Conditions Necessitate The Need To Buy A Dog Wheelchair?
Your dog should comfortably walk using its front legs while its back remains in a level position. Due to some medical ailments, though, this sometimes becomes a challenge, so your dog has a hard time propelling itself forward. To help you know that your dog needs a wheelchair, there are signs you should look out for that show that your dog has lost its mobility. These include:
- Quickly gets fatigued when going for the daily walk
- Sudden irritability or behavior change caused by pain
- Muscle atrophy or signs of weakness
- Hind part swings periodically when standing
- Struggles to stand up from a resting position
- Abrupt loss of balance
- Reluctance to go outdoors due to fear of falling
- Walking only causes more pain
If some of these signs are present, your pet needs a rear support dog wheelchair for dorsal assistance. This dog wheelchair will be of superb benefit to your pet, especially if it has the following medical conditions:
This chronic infection is a type of arthritis that commonly affects dogs. This condition is also known as degenerative joint disease and usually results in the gradual worsening of joint inflammation, eventually leading to cartilage deterioration. Different things cause damage to the cartilage, including repetitive stress, age, disease, or injury. Other risk factors that increase the chances of osteoarthritis include poor nutrition, genetics, obesity, poor conformation, and large dog breeds such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.
Damage caused by osteoarthritis results in loss of protective cushion. This consequently causes symptoms such as reduced range of motion, inflammation, pain, and increased occurrence of bone spurs. In this case, your dog’s joints can’t move smoothly, hence its full range of motion is hindered. As a result, your dog finds it very difficult to do ordinary activities such as walking or running due to extreme pain. In such a case, investing in a dog wheelchair will be of great help as it improves its quality of life by strengthening muscles and helping reduce the pain.
Knee And ACL Injuries
Your dog can, at any time, suffer from knee and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. If this happens, the only solution left would be rest and surgery in more severe cases. Besides being expensive, the road to recovery after sustaining such injuries is also excruciatingly painful to your dog. Therefore, it needs to rest enough to help in its full recovery to avoid further injuries to the knee.
With that said, your dog still needs to get regular exercise such as going for short walks. To help with its mobility, a dog wheelchair comes in handy to provide your pet with the needed support, which will be crucial in your dog’s road to recovery.
Another health condition that makes it hard for your dog to move and go about with its routine activities, such as walking, is hip dysplasia. In this condition, the ball and socket of the hip joint do not grow simultaneously at the same speed, resulting in loose and unstable joints. This results in pain and discomfort. The notable symptoms of this skeletal condition include:
- Unusual sitting positions
- Difficulty standing
- Sporadic or chronic lameness
- Bunny-like hopping
- Limping after exercising
- Muscle mass loss on one or both rear legs
- Shifting weight to front legs
- Joints producing cracking sounds
- Difficulty climbing or jumping
Hip dysplasia usually happens while the dog is still in its growth stages. If not promptly addressed, it results in muscle atrophy and arthritis. This condition is often common in large dog breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Saint Bernard, and Great Dane. This condition can be remedied by using supplements such as omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, MSM, selenium, and vitamin E. These supplements aid in reducing inflammation, hence making your dog a lot more comfortable.
With that said, it’s still best to get a dog wheelchair because this gives your dog that added desire and confidence to move. This is because exercise and movement produce joint fluid that helps lubricate the sore joint. This eases the pressure from your dog’s other limbs and strengthens muscles to promote ease of movement.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
This condition is usually prevalent in dogs aged between 8 and 14 years and is caused by a lost connection between the spinal cord and the brain. It’s one of the most common conditions of a dog that necessitate the use of a wheelchair for easy movement. During its onset, your dog’s hind paws start knuckling and eventually start to affect both paws. The common symptoms of DM include your dog dragging its feet and excessive trembling.
The dog wheelchair is the best option if your dog suffers from DM because it doesn’t experience any physical pain to necessitate any medication. In addition, this condition also doesn’t have any specific treatment.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
Although this condition affects all dog breeds, some are more susceptible than others. This painful and discomforting condition is usually caused by the deterioration or displacement of cushions found between the spinal discs. It has differing severity, with different degrees of paralysis or weakness of the legs, often the back legs.
You should get your dog a wheelchair regardless of the stage this condition is. During the early stages, the dog wheelchair helps in rehabilitation. In contrast, when this IVDD gets a lot more serious, it results in paralysis. The dog wheelchair, in this case, becomes a must to help your pet to move.
What Are The Benefits Of Dog Wheelchairs?
Just because your dog suffers from any of the conditions mentioned here doesn’t mean it will no longer be free to move. Thanks to wheelchairs, dogs can now move freely and they are given the best life they deserve. Some of its standout benefits are as follows:
Improve Quality Of Life
As your dog gets older or after suffering a certain health ailment, moving, be it walking or running, becomes a challenge. Without help from the dog wheelchair, it will feel isolated and eventually become depressed. Because this is the last thing you want as a pet owner, investing in the dog wheelchair becomes necessary. Luckily, it provides your pet with the needed support and the freedom to go about its normal activities. The ability to walk and play helps improve the dog’s physical state and emotional well-being.
Slow Down Disease Progression
Some degenerative diseases, degenerative myelopathy for instance, quickly become worse and affect your dog’s overall well-being if not dealt with on time. The dog wheelchair helps to curb this issue from getting any worse by freeing both the front and back legs from any stress. Here are different ways a dog wheelchair can accomplish this:
- Rear paws are elevated safely above the ground if they’re permanently paralyzed to prevent scraping or dragging of the feet, which only causes more injury to your dog.
- Offer support to the back leg if it’s suffering from paralysis or weakness. Thanks to the wheelchair, your dog enjoys improved balance and stability while standing, running, or walking.
- The four-wheel wheelchair provides complete limb support if your dog’s back and front legs are experiencing any weakness. This helps your dog have the energy to move in any direction it wants with ease.
With disease progression slowed down, your dog can do the activities it once enjoyed doing, even with limited movements.
Give Your Dog Confidence
The inability to move and play around like it used to will start to take a toll on your dog’s confidence. Therefore, it’s your duty as the dog owner to get your pet a wheelchair that helps with mobility. With this kind of support and encouragement, your dog’s confidence will improve. This confidence will continue even if it doesn’t manage to move great distances. By just trying to move around using the wheelchair, it will have a feel of the life it used to have, back when it was healthy enough to run freely. This will result in a happier dog than if it didn’t manage to move at all.
Help With Mobility
If your dog gets handicapped, injured, or paralyzed, it loses its natural ability to move. This means that activities that were once routine, such as walking, running, or exercising, suddenly become hard to perform. In such a case, the dog wheelchair would come in handy if recommended by the vet. With its help, your dog could stand upright, move from one point to another, and regain its normal life.
Help Maintain The Dog’s Independence
Your dog needs to be independent not only for its emotional well-being but for yours as well. After all, picking up and carrying your dog all the time isn’t practical. Even with a harness that helps you lift your pet up a flight of stairs, your dog still won’t enjoy the much-needed independence it used to have. This is why the dog wheelchair stands out as the ideal aid to help your dog move. As a result, it can start doing activities such as walking, exercising, or running without the help of anyone.
Prevent And Reduce Injury
If your dog is having difficulty moving due to an injury, getting it a wheelchair will undoubtedly be of great help. To determine which wheelchair to purchase, you first need to know the specific physical and medical condition your dog’s suffering from to make an informed choice. An effective way of knowing this is through the towel test. If the front leg during this test spread outwards, a 4-wheel wheelchair would be the ideal choice. In contrast, a hind wheel wheelchair is recommended if your dog doesn’t experience strain when moving forward with your help.
This guide has shown the benefits of a dog wheelchair for your pets suffering from any of the conditions mentioned here. A dog’s life is best experienced doing activities outside like exercising and interacting with humans and other dogs. However, this isn’t possible if your beloved pet suffers from osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, or any other condition that limits its freedom of movement and mobility. This is why buying a wheelchair is recommended to aid the dog’s movements and ensure it remains stable even with a medical condition. It’s a worthy investment that your dog will surely reward with sloppy kisses.