The hardest part of owning a dog is watching them grow older. It can be difficult to know just how to help your best friend when they get older and begin struggling to walk and losing them mobility. You don’t want to see your pet lose their quality of life because they can’t move around as easily and some pet owners simply don’t know what to do.
The good news is that dog wheelchairs can be an excellent way to help your pet regain their mobility and their quality of life. Not many people know how useful a pet wheelchair can be or if, or even why they might be a good option for their dog. However, if you decide to purchase one for your dog, you might just see them rediscover that puppyish lease on life you so fondly remember.
Why is a Dog Wheelchair a Good Investment?
As dogs get older, they are vulnerable to hip and joint pain which can leave them struggling to use their back legs properly. In severe cases, some dogs may even lose the use of their back legs entirely to paralysis. This is painful for any pet owner to watch, and is all the more frustrating for poor Fido, who doesn’t understand why he has lost mobility, only that he has. A dog wheelchair can remove the difficulty he experiences when moving around so that he can keep enjoying life to the fullest. Dog wheelchairs prop up the hind legs of your dog so that the lack of movement of his back legs doesn’t hamper the movement of his front legs.
Similarly, dog wheelchairs can be a great way to help your pet recover from surgery or help to offer relief from certain medical issues. In these cases, a dog wheelchair need not be permanent, but an excellent temporary solution to ease the pain your dog experiences through healing and health management.
Weight management is essential as your dog gets older or when recovering from an injury. Usually, taking your dog for a walk is how you would maintain your dog’s weight but reduced mobility makes this a lot more difficult. A dog wheelchair allows your pet to keep moving to keep their weight down and keeping them as fit and healthy as possible. This will help to reduce the pressure on older joints and injuries so as to minimise the pain and frustration your dog experiences through these situations. You would be amazed at how quickly your dog will become accustomed to a dog wheelchair and get moving just as he used to when he was a puppy.
The Towel Test: How to Check a Dog Wheelchair is Right for Your Pet?
To be able to use a dog wheelchair your dog has to be able to confidently walk on his front two legs. The Towel Test is used to check if this is the case with your pet. Hold your dog’s hind legs in the air with a towel to test how well he can walk on his front lets. The towel will act as a support system in the same way that a dog wheelchair would. If you have a small dog, use a smaller towel or cut two holes in an old towel so as not to lift the dog entirely. If your dog can walk well on only two legs, he passes the towel test and a dog wheelchair may be the best option to help him walk better in the future.
When and Where Can a Dog Wheelchair be Used?
A dog wheelchair can be used both indoors and outdoors to make sure your dog can always get around, however there are different kinds of dog wheelchairs for different uses. Indoor dog wheelchairs tend to be lighter and with smaller wheels as indoor surfaces are easier to roll around on. Outdoor options are a little heavier and much more sturdy to support your dog on uneven terrain and inclines. There are some options which are adjustable for use both indoors and outdoors. These wheelchairs can also be adapted to the size and weight of your dog so that you are sure to find one that is right for your beloved pet.
Training Your Pet to Use a Wheelchair
As with any new experience, there will be a small adjustment period while your dog gets used to the dog wheelchair. Although, when he realised he can get moving again, you’ll see just how quickly he comes to love his new device. Allow your dog to see and smell the wheelchair before fitting it. Give him plenty of positive reinforcement with kind words and treats. This will give him a positive association with the wheelchair from the offset. If your dog is not used to a harness, place this on your pet before attaching the wheels so that he grows used to the feel of it and doesn’t become overwhelmed by a new experience. When he seems comfortable with this, attach the rest of the pieces one by one with plenty of treats and reinforcement.
Once the wheelchair is assembled, hold a treat out in front of your dog so they have to come toward you to get it and move with the wheelchair. Take this step slowly and build the distance gradually, as your pet may not have a huge amount of endurance in their front legs just yet. As your dog realises that his mobility has increased, you’ll see the excitement as he begins to make the most of his newfound freedom.
Although they have been around almost 50 years, dog wheelchairs are still not as widely known in the pet-owning community. Yet, if you make good use of them when your dog has decreased mobility, you will see the benefit almost instantly. Not only to they relieve the pain of an injury or degenerative issue, they offer your dog the freedom they once enjoyed. Once you buy a pet wheelchair, you’ll find yourself wondering why you didn’t think to buy one earlier!