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Wheelchairs For Canines!

October 29th, 2018
Wheelchairs For Canines!

Pet dogs are an important part of families and, as pet owners, we want to provide the best quality of life for our companions. However, it isn’t easy when a dog starts to lose their mobility.There are many reasons why a dog might lose mobility in their legs.It could be due to illness, old age, hip dysplasia, disabled dogs, or an accident. Often, their quality of life is affected and, in many cases, owners are not sure how to help them.Owners are left feeling powerless when faced with the pain that their companions face. In the past, dogs were often euthanized as people felt that their quality of life was so significantly affected. It was considered the only way to be able to provide them with relief. However, there are now many options available to help pets and their owners.

What are Dog Wheelchairs?

Wheelchairs for dogs, sometimes referred to as dog carts, are tools used to help return mobility and quality of life to dogs. Although dog wheelchairs have been around for several decades, many people are still unaware of the benefits that they provide. There are several different types of dog wheelchairs for the many various types of mobility issues. However, the most common one is the two-wheeled carts, which are predominantly for dogs that have issues with their rear legs. These two-wheeled carts address rear leg issues that can range from still having some mobility in the rear legs to complete paralysis of the rear legs.

​When considering whether your dog requires a dog wheelchair it is important to consult a veterinarian but there are a few tests that can be done yourself to assess whether a dog wheelchair is the right direction for your dog.  One such test is the “towel test,” which can be done in order to assess whether your dog possesses the ability to and is comfortable in pushing themselves forward on their front legs while their back is stabilized at a leveled position. This is crucial as the dog must be able to walk firmly on its front legs in order to be able to regain mobility with the two-wheeled cart. The “towel test” is done by balancing the back legs of the dog with the towel and testing their ability to propel themselves forward. This is conducted by taking an old towel, cutting two holes in it, and placing the legs through the holes, ensuring to keep the back in line. For small dogs, one towel can be used and, for larger dogs, two can be used—one under each leg for support.

What to Look for In Your Pups Wheelchair

​A key aspect of this is that the dog must have the motivation to re-gain its mobility. The dog’s attitude will determine the rate and extent of success of the wheelchair. Is your dog bright and full of life and wants to run around even with their mobility issues? If so, you have already reached the first milestone. Having a strong spirit to re-gain its mobility will aid him significantly in adapting to and using the wheelchair to its full potential.

​There are also several other styles and types of dog wheelchairs which can be used for dogs with mobility issues with their front legs, as well as all four legs. The wheelchairs come in many different sizes for small or large dogs and can be used inside as well as outside. However, they are more practical for outdoor usage, so it is important that the owner first determines whether or not their current location will be able to accommodate a dog wheelchair. This is because the dog wheelchairs can be quite large for bigger dogs. The dog carts are equipped to be used on many different types of terrain but the larger the dog the wider the carts will be and so the space available plays an important role as well.

​The various types of dog wheelchairs are also related to the different causes for mobility issues that a dog might have. There are several conditions which can lead to a lossof mobility for a dog. The following are a few of the most common diseases and problems that can occur; thoracolumbar disc degenerative disease, degenerative myelopathy, paralysis, arthritis, and knee problems.

Why Would Your Dog Need a Wheelchair?

​Thoracolumbar intervertebral disc degenerative disease (IVDD) is the most common condition for which a dog might require a dog wheelchair. Thoracolumbar disc intervertebral degenerative disease is the result of when a disk in the spine of your dog is ruptured or herniated, causing its contents to leak, and thus resulting in inflammation and pain for your dog. When this occurs, the disc which is supposed to act as a shock and pain absorber for your dog during its regular function fails to do so and thus places extra strain on the spine of the dog. Dog wheelchairs can help to alleviate that strain and help with the rehabilitation of the dog. Dog wheelchairs can help a dog regardless of whether the dog has had IVDD surgery or not.

​The second most common disease that can cause dogs to need the assistance of a wheelchair is degenerative myelopathy. This is a disorder that occurs spontaneously within the spinal cord of adult dogs. It is caused by the degeneration of “white matter” within the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves. This white matter contains fibers that send movement commands and sensory information to and fro from the brain and the limbs. Although this is not a painful disease, it does cause the gradual loss of mobility in the hind legs of the dog. It is also a progressive disease, which means that the loss of mobility will also travel over time to the front legs as well. In this case, dog wheelchairs are used to provide support for the hind legs as they are losing their functionality as well as help delay the progress of this condition by reducing the stress placed on the front legs. Dogs can utilize the wheelchairs even if they still have some mobility in their hind legs.

​Similarly, in terms of paralysis,should the dog have rear leg paralysis due to an injury or spinal cord problem, they can still regain their mobility through the use of a dog wheelchair. Their rear legs can be suspended above ground and they can let the wheels of the cart do what their legs can no longer do.By suspending the hind legs above the ground, this allows the dogs to propel themselves forward on their front legs and prevents the hind legs from dragging the dog down as well as affecting their gait.

In terms of arthritis, if the arthritis is controlled with medication and is present within the hind legs then a dog wheelchair can be used to reduce the strain on the back legs. This prevents arthritis from affecting their gait and placing pressure on other parts of their spine.

Finally, for knee issues, dogs usually receive a surgery to resolve the problem. However, subsequent to the surgery the dog wheelchair can be used to prevent straining the leg that has been operated on, as well as preventing the other leg from being damaged. This is especially relevant for dogs thatmaybe overweight. Subsequent to the recovery period some dogs may not need the wheelchair anymore or some may require continued use of it, depending on how well their legs have recovered.

​Recently, dog wheelchairs have started to gain a lot of public interest, as dog owners are starting to discover the uses and benefits of these dog carts. There have been numerous success stories and videos posted on the Internet about dog owners who have drastically improved their pets’ standard of living by providing them with a dog wheelchair. These videos have gained a lot of attention and some have gone viral; for instance, ones that show puppies using the dog carts and playing among their friends.

What are the Benefits of Doggy Wheelchairs?

​There are many benefits that dog wheelchairs can provide pets as well as their owners. Primarily, the most crucial benefit is the return of mobility and an active lifestyle for the dogs. This not only makes the dogs happier but also ensures that they remain healthier by getting the exercise they need. Another benefit is that fewer dogs will need to be euthanized due to their disabilities and lack of mobility. This also means that there is a greater chance for adoption as well for dogs that have mobility issues. By using the dog wheelchairs, the dogs gain backmost—if not all—of their normal lifestyle and functionality. 

​There are many benefits for pet owners too. Many owners are attached to their furry companions and would not love to see live longer without suffering. Through the use of dog wheelchairs, they are able to prevent the need to let their pets go as well as significantly reduce the pain that their canine friends suffer. In addition, it is especially useful for owners who may have guide dogs, support dogs, or therapy dogs. Sometimes, it may be too difficult for them to let their companion go and so through the use of dog wheelchairs they are able to gain a little bit more time with their dog.

​However, there are some points to consider when thinking about getting your pet a dog wheelchair. One of the key facts to remember is that they do not guarantee the return of mobility to a dog. Sometimes, if a disease has spread too far along the dog’s spine or has significantly affected the mobility in all four legs, it may not be possible for them to recover their mobility. Furthermore, older dogs may not be as driven to gain their mobility back due to pain or habituation if they haven’t had mobility in while. Similarly, it is also important to consider the area and space that you are able to provide to your dog. This is especially true for larger dogs that will require wider carts. It is very important that they have sufficient space in which they can rehabilitate and practice, in order to get their mobility back. The returning mobility might also cause a dog to become restless or hyperactive once they initially begin the rehabilitation process. This can also be problematic in small or enclosed areas. It may seem difficult at the start but it can lead to a life-changing experience for the dog and its owner.

How to Find Them?

Another key phase is searching for and finding a dog wheelchair for your pet. Although dog carts and wheelchairs are very readily available, it is important to assess what the specific needs of your pet are prior to making a purchase. The availability of dog wheelchairs ranges from custom-made wheelchairs to a variety of adjustable dog carts. It is recommended to first acquire an expert opinion (e.g. from a veterinarian). However, it is not mandatory.A towel test can also be used to determine the extent to which a dog requires a dog wheelchair. Dog wheelchairs are widely available in pet stores, large chain stores such as Walmart as well as online stores as well such as Amazon. In addition to the ample availability, there is also a very broad range of prices associated with dog wheelchairs. The costs of these wheelchairs are dependent on the extent of customization as well as the quality. Some wheelchairs at the high end of the range can cost thousands of dollars; however, there are many economical and budget-friendly options available as well. There are even options to purchase dog wheelchairs second hand as well.

Conclusion

If you are considering a dog wheelchair for your pet, it is important to be just as motivated as your pet and to guide him with patience. It may take them some time to adapt to the wheelchair as well as the returned mobility. However, by providing your dog with positive reassurance, you can help them speed up the rehabilitation process.