Last updated: August 19, 2021

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Welcome! We have a section dedicated exclusively to accessories for our furry friends. And why not, because the loyalty, love and companionship that pets provide are some of the most valuable things in life. Today we will talk about an item that can change the life of your canine: the wheelchair for dogs.

Age, injury and some illnesses can impair a dog's ability to walk. This impairment causes suffering and pain when running, playing or even going to the toilet, and seeing our beloved pet in such a condition is heartbreaking. Fortunately, wheelchairs represent a second chance for your dog.

If your canine has lost mobility in his paws, this guide is for you, as it has been created with the purpose of helping you choose the best wheelchair option for your dog, who will surely thank you for it. We will show you how to identify all the key points about this device and the main buying factors.




Summary

  • Dog wheelchairs are support and mobility devices for canines with conditions that prevent them from walking. They are fairly lightweight, allowing disabled dogs to move easily despite having impairments in two or four of their legs.
  • Wheelchairs come in two- or four-wheel configurations. There are a variety of conditions that can inhibit a dog's ability to move, affecting their back, front or all four legs. There are wheelchairs for each of these, with rear-legged wheelchairs being the most common.
  • The most important purchasing factor to consider is the size/length of the dog. Next, it is worth considering the type of tyre suitable for the surface on which the dog usually travels, as well as the materials of construction of the chair and the condition of the canine (with the help of a veterinarian).

The Best Dog Wheelchairs: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Dogs are not abandoned, especially not when they are injured or disabled. When our dogs are injured, our commitment to them increases. That's why this guide will help you familiarise yourself with dog wheelchairs. In this section we will look at their special features and the main purchasing factors.

Dog wheelchairs come in all sizes and shapes (Photo: Thatsaphon Saengnarongrat/123rf.com)

What is a dog wheelchair and what are its advantages?

A dog wheelchair is a device that provides mobility for canines with conditions that result in partial or total loss of mobility in the hind legs. From injury to illness, there are a variety of circumstances that can disable a dog's ability to walk.

These wheelchairs are characterised by the fact that they are particularly lightweight, which facilitates mobility. They have mechanisms that hold dogs in place and are fully adjustable, so they can be found to fit any dog to ensure a high level of comfort and efficiency.

Advantages
  • Provide mobility for dogs with disabilities
  • Offer independence for dogs
  • Adjustable for dogs of different sizes
Disadvantages
  • Difficult to transport
  • Difficult to move in some types of terrain
  • Difficult to obtain spare or replacement parts

Back, front and four-legged wheelchairs - what to look out for?

There are many conditions that can disable your dog and therefore the type of disability they may have also varies. The main difference between these types of conditions is the legs they affect. There are wheelchairs that offer support on the back, front or all four legs.

Rear-leg wheelchairs: These are the most common. The height of the leg support is adjustable, allowing the best position to be found, which is suitable for the short legs of some dogs. The wheels are located at the rear, so the dog controls the steering with the front legs.

Front-legged wheelchairs: These are virtually identical to hind-legged wheelchairs, but the wheels are at the front, and the dog propels and steers with the rear legs. They are less common, as the front legs are less likely to be affected by medical conditions.

Four-legged wheelchairs: Designed for dogs with severe weakness in all four legs that cannot support themselves. They have a frame that supports the dog's trunk, as well as four wheels that allow them to move without too much effort. They are the least common of all, and also the most expensive.

Rear-legged chairs Front-legged chairs Four-legged chairs
Location of wheels Rear Front Rear and front
Availability Wide Limited Uncommon
Support Hind legs Front legs All legs
Wheels 2 2 4

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different models of dog wheelchairs

The following buying factors are essential for choosing the most appropriate wheelchair for your canine friend. They are worth paying attention to, as dog wheelchairs are not always cheap, and if you are going to invest in one, it is important that it is as close to what your pet needs as possible.

  • Size of dog
  • Type of tyre
  • Materials
  • Type of condition

Size of dog

Most dog wheelchairs come in sizes, and most models have sizes available for all types of dogs. The first thing to do is to determine your dog's length (nose to tail). This will help you choose the right size and ensure comfort and fit for your pet.

Below, we have a table that lists the sizes with the usual measurements. Please note that these are approximate and may vary slightly from model to model. Don't worry if your dog's length doesn't exactly match any of the sizes, as the chairs are adjustable and can fit your dog exactly.

Size Measurements Examples of Breeds
Extra Small 23-35 cm Chihuahua
Small 36-43 cm Pomeranian, Yorkshire, Miniature Pinscher
Medium 44-50 cm Beagle, Dachshund, Bull Dog, Lhasa Apso, Poodle, Schnauzer
Large 51-66 cm Golden Retriever, Labrador, Doberman, Pitbull
Extra Large 67-80+ cm St. Bernard, German Shepherd, Great Dane

Rim type

Although the tyres of a dog wheelchair are not as variable and sophisticated as those of a car, there are certainly different versions, each suitable for the type of terrain on which they are most frequently used. This is a factor worth considering, particularly if your dog spends time outdoors.

Smooth tyres: These are ideal for dogs that spend a lot of time indoors, as the surfaces in such places tend to be flat, smooth and even. Smooth tyres slip and slide very easily on indoor surfaces such as ceramic, wood and polished concrete. They are the most common and the smallest.

Rough tyres: The best choice for dogs that play and run outdoors. These tyres are similar to bicycle and even car tyres, and the traction they provide allows dogs to move more easily over surfaces such as grass, concrete and dirt. They are often sold separately.

Materials

It is essential to pay attention to the materials that wheelchairs are made of, as these dictate quality, comfort, lightness and durability. There is no point in investing in a wheelchair if it is short-lived, uncomfortable or excessively heavy. We recommend that you opt for the following materials:

Frame/chair body: The most common material for the frame of the wheelchair, as well as the most recommended, is aluminium, as it stands out for being durable. It is also affordable, so it does not increase the cost of the chair. It is very light, so it will allow your dog to move easily and without excessive weight.

Stainless steel: The additional parts to the frame/body (the tubes that support the wheels, for example) should be made of stainless steel. This material guarantees the strength and robustness of the chair, as well as being resistant to wear and corrosion.

Fabric/ribbon: The dog's restraint mechanisms are what hold the animal securely to the chair, and should be made of fabric/ribbon. It is important that these are not rough, but smooth, otherwise they may cause irritation or injury to your pet's skin.

Type of condition

The type of condition your dog has will determine whether it requires support on the front legs, the hind legs or all of them. The most common conditions are degenerative myelopathy, neuromuscular disease, osteoarthritis and age-related problems.

To find out what kind of condition your dog has and what kind of support he needs, it is essential to see your vet. He or she will help you analyse which legs your dog needs support for. It is not advisable to try to determine this yourself, as there are factors that could easily be overlooked by someone without knowledge.

(Featured image photo: Zlatko Nečevski/123rf.com)

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