Millions of dogs with mobility issues got a second chance for a normal life thanks to a dog wheelchair. From short-term rehabilitation to complete paralysis, a dog wheelchair proved as a life-saving invention.
Depending on the dog’s size, age, and breed, choosing the right cart for your pooch can require proper research.
With 13 years of experience, our experts have compiled the top products available on the market, and based on the customers’ reviews created this useful buyer’s guide to help you get your pooch back on his paws. Check out the best dog treadmill also.
How does a dog wheelchair work?
The nature of the dog’s physical impairment will determine what kind of aid they will need. Regardless of the wheelchair type, it is made (and can be custom-designed) to improve mobility or make up for the lack of forelimb muscle and upper torso strength.
Your veterinarian will consult you about the size, type, and shape of the wheelchair your dog needs. Basically, the chart is a combination of harnesses and wheels that provide stability and enable the dog to move freely. Most dogs learn to adapt quickly to new conditions and find ways to go about with normal dog activities.
Does my dog need a wheelchair?
Degenerative physical issues like the intervertebral disc disease, hip dysplasia, arthritis, paralysis, degenerative myelopathy, etc., and even neurological problems can all be the culprits of immobility. Unfortunately, some dogs are victims of car crashes, injuries, and accidents that leave them severely injured and stuck with long-term rehabilitation.
Simply put, if your pooch suffers from a physical impairment that limits their movement, you should think about getting a wheelchair for them.
The important thing to remember is that canine immobility isn’t a death sentence. Our furry companions are natural fighters and will take any chance for a happy and fulfilled life they get. A wheelchair is just an aid that can turn your life and your dog’s life around in the most positive way.
What types of dog wheelchairs are there?
Although they come in a variety of designs, sizes and styles, dog wheelchairs can be divided into three main types, based on their purpose:
- Rear support
- Front support
- Full support (also called a quad cart)
Rear support wheelchair
If you’ve seen a dog in a wheelchair, this is probably the prototype you would imagine. Designed to compensate for the lack of back-leg and rear support, these wheelchairs consist of two large wheels and a cushioned seat/saddle for the dog’s pelvis.
The construction is supported by a metal frame and harnesses to keep the dog secure and stable in the wheelchair. The dog moves by using the upper-body strength and front legs, while the chair wheels with the dog – similar to a cart.
Front support wheelchair
Opposite to rear support wheelchairs, these devices replace the strength needed from the compromised front limbs. The dog uses his hind legs to push himself around, while the wheels compensate for the lack of upper-body strength and balance.
The dog’s front limbs (or chest) are secured with a harness, or the entire torso put in a cushioned bodysuit that provides stability and minimizes pressure to the neck and back.
This bed-like wheelchair is designed to provide support for all four limbs. Paralyzed dogs, especially those with neurological issues, can benefit largely from the quad cart as they can move thanks to their owner’s assistance. The full-support wheelchair contains two small front and two large rear wheels. The construction features a metal frame that can be pushed to move the chart.
Since the most widely-spread type of dog wheelchair is the rear-support cart, this review will focus on the best wheelchairs of this type available.
Essential features to consider
Before making the final choice, consider these features in a dog wheelchair:
For the best results, you want to look for light-weight materials and simple design. The harnesses should be user-friendly and easy to attach to the dog. Depending on your dog’s size, the chair should adhere to their physical ability and strength.
The type of wheels also counts. Rear-support wheelchairs usually come with air-filled tires or foam wheels.
While air tires provide more natural suspension, foam wheels are usually the top pick due to their durability and practicality. The dense, high-quality foam can never go flat and is suitable for almost any terrain. That said, air tires are great for active dogs as they are lighter and bouncier.
Larger wheels with a deeper tread pattern will help your energized pooch undertake his endeavors effortlessly, but if your furry friend is more of a couch potato, then normal-sized tired will do just fine.
This is the owners’ biggest fear when it comes to dog wheelchairs. Will my dog feel comfortable in his new wheelchair? Adjustability refers to the height and length of the cart’s sections to fit your dog’s size perfectly. Measure your dog’s limbs, body weight and height before opting for products.
Collapsible or not
Do I need to fit the wheelchair in my car? Do I have the room at my apartment to store the device? These are the issues you need to cover to make a perfect choice. Wheelchairs for large dogs can get quite bulky and take up space, so make sure to take this into account as well.
Intuitive to use
A dog wheelchair should also be user-friendly and intuitive to attach. Complicated harnesses, too many buckles, and belts can compromise the dog’s comfort and natural position. Also, make sure the device is easy to clean and disassembly if necessary. A soft saddle that comfortably carries the dog’s body is also a must for unnoticeable use.
Safety tips for using a dog wheelchair
To ensure comfort and safety for your furry companion, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully and make sure the device is fastened correctly.
When you put your pup in the wheelchair, make sure the harness is wrapped around the dog properly, without any twists and knots. You clearly don’t want your dog to be in more pain than he already is. The wheelchair should make the dog stand in a natural position. If you notice the dog fidgeting or getting restless, check if everything is in its place.
Always supervise your dog when in the wheelchair. The straps and wheels can get stuck in bushes or branches, or tear your furniture, thus break the cart or injure your dog. Your presence will help the dog avoid those “traps” and learn how to move freely.
Don’t keep the dog in the wheelchair for too long. Occasional periods of rest are important to avoid bruising and tiring out quickly, especially in the beginning. Let the dog slowly adapt and observe any changes in the dog’s wellbeing.
Best dog wheelchairs for 2021
Considering the essential features, we’ve prepared the top picks of the best dog wheelchairs for 2020. Check out our review:
K9 Carts, The Original Dog Wheelchair
A fantastic vet-approved wheelchair is the K9 Cart, the Original Dog Wheelchair. This thoroughly tested cart is one of the most popular options among users. It can withstand between 5 – 80 pounds of weight but is very light itself, ranked among the most compatible products on the market. It’s made in the USA and backed by the best experts in the field.
The aircraft-grade aluminum makes it easy to move and use, but it’s durable enough for years of use.
This multi-use cart can be used to help with rear or front limb weakness since the dog can push it as a cart, or have the rear legs held up in protective slings. Depending on your dog’s medical issue, the hind legs can be fastened with side hoops or held up in straps.
The cart’s support system is enhanced with cable leg rings at the front, covered with protective soft foam to ensure comfortable contact with skin and prevent any soring.
The wheels are carefully designed to withstand rough terrain and enable the canine to move freely and in a natural position. One of the customers’ favorite, this nifty wheelchair is easy to order, intuitive to use and dogs find it appealing.
- Designed and created by medical professionals
- Fully adjustable
- Possible to use as a front or rear-support cart
- Quick shipping
Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
If you’re looking for a sturdy rear-support wheelchair for your large dog, look no more. This vet-approved cart is designed to withstand up to 180 lbs of weight. Thanks to the big foam wheels with rubber treads, this sturdy cart will enable your active dog to explore whichever nooks and corners he wants without getting punctured.
Not sure if your dog will fit in the wheelchair? Walkin’ Wheels is completely adjustable in height, width and length, perfect for any dog breed and size.
The structure frame is made of durable and light-weight aluminum to provide maximum stability and enable effortless movement.
Owners find this an excellent product for outdoor exploring, as it folds flat and is easily stored or packed in the car. The wheelchair is also completely washable, including the foam wheels.
It comes in different wheel and frame sizes to fit any furry companion in need.
Make sure to carefully take your dog’s measurements as the efficacy of the wheelchair can very much depend on the fit.
- Fully adjustable
- multi-purpose; great for both small and large breeds
- Sturdy frame construction
- Foam wheels
- Rear-support cart
Wheelchair for extra small dogs
Another K9 Carts invention that adheres to all the medical and practical needs of customers. Vet-approved and designed by experts, this light-weight aid will get your pooch moving in no time. Since it’s designed for tiny dogs, it can also be a great device for disabled puppies and even cats.
This toy-sized wheelchair is easily stored, fits in any car trunk and can even be kept assembled without taking up much space in your home.
Small rear wheels enable natural body position for small dogs and eliminate any unnecessary weight for them to pull—all in all, a very affordable and high-quality option for small dogs and other smaller pets.
- Specifically designed for small dog breeds and small pets
- Light-weight and storable
- Made in the USA
- Created by veterinarians and approved by experts
Newlife Mobility Adjustable Dog Wheelchair
While available in 7 sizes, this rear-support wheelchair is widely prevalent among small breeds and cats as well. The sturdy aluminum provides the option to adjust the harness and fit any small animal effortlessly comfortably. The colorful harness is supported with foam padded straps that wrap unnoticeably around the animal’s torso and abdomen, providing maximum stability and safety.
The wheels are small but durable enough to roll on any terrain noise-free. While not the easiest to put on and off, the harness is extremely safe and provides maximum support for the weak hind limbs. Users find it definitely worth the money, good quality and versatile.
- Comes in 7 sizes
- Durable, foam wheels
- Fully adjustable
- Highly affordable
- Great for cats too
Living on wheels
What makes our furry friends unique is their ability to adapt to any misfortune and tragedy, as long as we provide them with love, support, and hope. A disabled dog is just as adorable, loving, devoted, and playful as any dog; he or she just needs some help from their human friend.
It may take a couple of tries, patience and time for your dog to live normally in the wheelchair. Consult with your vet about the features and criteria you need to look for in a wheelchair and give your pup a chance to take a liking to the whole thing.
Don’t forget to take precise measurements of your dog, as it will most closely determine if the wheelchair will fit or not.
Finally, the more your dog moves around and explores in the cart, the quicker he’ll adapt to the new circumstances. Practice makes perfect; in this case, it brings hope and opportunity for a happy life.