5 Best Dog Wheelchairs | April 2017
- includes stirrups
- can be used legs up or down
- may take some getting used to
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
- durable stainless steel hardware
- comfortable neoprene harnesses
- screws tend to loosen on their own
|Brand||Best Friend Mobility|
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
- won't cause pressure sores
- works on grass and pavement
- comes in multiple sizes
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
- durable polyurethane wheels
- front harness clips on quickly
- height length and width adjustable
|Brand||Best Friend Mobility|
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
- approved by veterinarians
- won't pinch a dog's skin
- slides on and off easily
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
Restoring Your Pup's Mobility
Without a wheelchair to supplement or restore at least some degree of a disabled person's mobility, he or she would have a difficult time getting around from one place to another. Just as the device gives a person a sense of normalcy when it comes to completing many of their daily activities, the same quality of life can be given to your cherished pets who may be suffering from temporary or permanent disabilities.
While dog wheelchairs come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles to suit the circumstances, they generally fall into three major categories, which include rear support, front support, and full support (also referred to as a quad cart because the chair supports all 4 legs). The rear support wheelchair is the most common type and is equipped with 2 rear wheels, a saddle to support the dog's pelvis, and a harness to keep him or her secure.
Leveraging a combination of the forelimb muscles and upper torso, a dog is able to walk using the support provided by the device's rear wheels turning behind him and acting as his rear limbs when they've been compromised. The front support wheelchair is so named because its wheels are located in the front of the device instead of the rear. Dogs using a front support wheelchair leverage the power of their hind legs to push themselves around, while the two front wheels substitute the animals' compromised front limbs.
Almost resembling a little bed on four wheels, the full support wheelchair (quad cart) usually features two small front wheels and two large rear wheels with support for a dog's torso region in the middle. The quad cart offers support for all four legs and comes in particularly handy for those pets with neurological disorders and have trouble standing or moving around on their own.
Regardless of the type of wheelchair a dog needs, the devices are often custom fit to the size of the animal, which means that a vet consultation may be required to determine the most suitable option. Many wheelchairs are available in standard sizes that are easily adjustable to fit a range of canine sizes up to a weight of 175 pounds.
Wheelchairs for dogs are specifically-designed to assist those pets afflicted with a variety of conditions that affect different parts of their bodies, including degenerative myelopathy, hip dysplasia, paralysis, arthritis, amputations, or surgery recovery among others. Regardless of the reason for needing a wheelchair, it's important to realize that many canine medical conditions are not a death sentence, even though a wheelchair may be needed for their recovery and treatment.
Dogs (and other animals) are especially resilient and inspiring creatures capable of overcoming extreme physical adversity similar to the way that humans do. For that reason, a dog will become accustomed to the wheelchair in time while still being able to lead a relatively normal life doing the things they love to do. The pet will also appreciate having the freedom to move around the house.
Simplicity And Empowerment Without Disability
The nature of the physical condition will determine the type of wheelchair a person's dog needs. It's important to consult with your veterinarian and remain informed about your options. That said, there are certain qualities to be aware of when making a choice.
Material construction should be a major consideration here. The best dog wheelchairs are durable and made from a combination of aluminum and stainless steel, making them strong, relatively easy to clean, lightweight, and resistant to rust. The wheels should also be sealed, especially when the dog will be using the device outdoors and on different types of floor surfaces. Also, the materials coming into contact with your dog (e.g. the straps or harness) should be made of soft materials like neoprene or another type of strong rubber.
The wheelchair should make it relatively easy to place your dog into it with the least amount of fuss possible. Less fuss means your furry friend will more quickly make a positive association with the device instead of being scared or apprehensive when using it.
Finally, keep an eye on your dog when you first start using the wheelchair to ensure his comfort. One should be sure the straps and wheels are easy to adjust to provide the most effective and natural mobility.
A Brief History Of Dog Wheelchairs
The earliest known record for the history of wheelchairs in general dates back to the sixth century with an inscription on a stone slate in China. By the time of the German Renaissance in the sixteenth century, a wheelchair was invented for King Phillip II of Spain in 1595. This wheelchair was elaborately-designed with both arm and leg rests.
In the late eighteenth century, John Dawson of Bath, England designed a wheelchair with two large rear wheels and a small front wheel for easy mobility. The Bath wheelchair outsold all other types throughout the early part of the 19th century. By 1933, mechanical engineers Harry Jennings and Herbert Everest developed the first lightweight and collapsible wheelchair made from steel. Together, this pair founded Everest & Jennings, a company that saw the potential of their invention. The two were able to mass market their well known X-brace, which is still in use today.
The birth of the dog wheelchair concept is generally attributed to orthopedic veterinary surgeon Dr. Lincoln Parkes, owner of K9 Carts, which was the very first United States manufacturer for this type of device. Parkes birthed his idea in 1961 while working at the Animal Medical Center in New York City and recognizing the need for such a tool in his practice. Since that time, Dr. Parkes has dedicated himself and his company to giving freedom and quality of life back to his furry patients for as normal a life as possible.
As of the early 2000s, other manufacturers have continued to establish themselves in the dog wheelchair market, including Mark C. Robinson, founder and president of HandicappedPets.com and inventor of the Walkin' Wheels Adjustable Dog Wheelchair, which has become one of the most popular brands of wheelchair available due to its ability to expand in length, width, and height to accommodate virtually any size or breed.