Is My Dog Ready for a Wheelchair?

by Jennifer Pratt

Dogs are unable to tell us what hurts or where they hurt, so it’s up to dog parents to stay alert and search for subtle changes in their pet’s behavior, which may indicate there’s an issue. Determining the best way to care for your pet, including when is the best time to get a wheelchair, can be a difficult choice to make. There are a lot of different factors to consider and every case is different.

Causes of Mobility Problems Common in Dogs
There are many conditions that can attribute to loss of leg strength and mobility; some of the most common conditions include:
Hip Dysplasia
Intervertebral Disc Disease or IVDD
Degenerative Myelopathy or DM
Neurological Disorders
Sudden Paralysis
Knee and ACL Injuries

Signs Your Dog May Be Losing Leg Strength
In the earliest stages, signs of mobility loss can be very easy to miss and can sometimes be attributed to your dog getting older. Most hind end weakness begins the same way, with a pet struggling to get off the ground and stand up. Once they find their footing, they’re fine and able to get around without assistance. If you see signs your dog is struggling or seems weaker than usual, pay attention. Here are some things to be on the lookout for:

Your dog may experience a sudden loss of balance. In many cases they will be able to right themselves and continue on.
On walks, listen for the sound of scraping nails. As a dog’s legs weaken, they will periodically scrape their nails on the ground. As their condition worsens, this will become more constant. Check your dog’s paws – uneven wearing on your dog’s back toenails, especially on the innermost nails, can be signs they’re starting to drag their feet.

Look for behavioral changes. If your dog seems unwilling to go outside, it may be because a trip outside means crossing slippery floors or going up or down stairs, all things that may become challenging or cause additional pain.

Do not ignore these signs. If your pet is experiencing any changes in mobility, signs of pain or behavioral changes, you need to speak with your veterinarian immediately.

The biggest mistake pet owners make is waiting too long to get their dog help. By catching mobility loss early, you can begin treatment earlier and work to maintain your dog’s remaining strength. Once your pet loses muscle it’s much harder to get back. Early treatment is key to keeping your best friend happy and active as long as possible!

Benefits of a Wheelchair
An active dog is a happy dog! Your dog wants to be with the family, chase a ball, run on the beach and enjoy the world around them. Just because they’re getting older or experiencing mobility loss doesn’t mean those experiences need to come to an end.

Dog wheelchairs, like the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchairs, are designed to help keep your dog moving and enjoying a long, happy life. A common misconception is that wheelchairs are only for paralyzed dogs, and that’s not true! Wheelchairs can help stabilize your dog, support a pet while healing post-op, or aid them in recovery from a knee injury. It can even become a part of your dog’s physical therapy routine and help them to rebuild muscles. Wheelchairs are designed to help your dog get the exercise they need and even strengthen their legs.

The most important thing you can do is help keep your dog moving forward. Your dog’s ability to exercise contributes to their overall health and well-being. Keeping them mobile and active helps your pet to live a longer, happier life and allows them to remain a part of the family.