I hope you had a pawesome long weekend!!
Today’s guest writer is Lisa G. Murray. Lisa is the pet blogger and marketing director for Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com, an online pet product company serving the needs of aging, disabled, and injured pets. Lisa enjoys writing about the resources available to help pets live happy, healthy lives!
Solutions for Mobility Challenged Dogs
Not so long ago, when a dog lost use of its legs, it usually meant its days were numbered. Happily, this is no longer the case! Today, dog wheelchairs and innovative harnesses give pet owners easy access to solutions that can extend their pets’ lives.
Canine Mobility Challenges
There are many reasons why dogs lose their mobility, but degenerative myelopathy (DM) and intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)top the list. DMis a progressive disease whichcauses dogs to lose their ability to walk, generally within a year of diagnosis. German Shepherds, Boxers, and Siberian Huskies are among the breeds most affected by this disease.
For cases of IVDD, very prevalent in breeds like Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Corgis, and Pugs, surgery is often recommended. But surgery doesn’t always work. Since it is also very expensive, it isn’t an option for many pet owners.
Injuries,neurological disorders, and congenital defectscan also causedogs to lose their mobility. And as with older people, aging dogs often experience weakening limbs due to arthritis or simply old age.
Dogs with limb amputations can usually manage well with three limbs. However, with time this can put strain on the body and stress remaining limbs. Dogs with double amputations have historically been euthanized.
The good news is, the decision about whether it’s time to put a dog to sleep because of mobility challenges is now tempered with the option of a dog wheelchair.
Dog Wheelchairs Come of Age
Although dog wheelchairs have been around for a while, they were not widely known and were expensive and cumbersome. Many specific measurements needed to be taken by the pet owner before a custom-made wheelchair could be ordered. Then the pet owner had to wait weeks for it to be built and delivered.
In 2008, Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com came out with the Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair. It was the first fully adjustable wheelchair, requiring only one measurement and the dog’s weight. Ready-made, it could be sent out the day it was ordered. Because it was “off the shelf,” it became more affordable.
With that advent, the dog wheelchair became both user friendly and designed for a dog’s comfort. In less than a decade, a device that was either unknown or thought of as an oddity has become mainstream in the U.S., and is gaining recognition worldwide.
How Dog Wheelchairs Work
Most dogs with mobility challenges experience limb weakness or paralysis in their hind legs. A rear wheelchair allows dogs with some use of their rear legs to continue using them. Keeping a dog active reduces muscle atrophy that will occur with lack of exercise. However, if a dog’s legs are paralyzed, they are held up with stirrups to keep them from dragging.
A dog wheelchair can be outfitted with amputee leg ring covers in the rear if the dog has a rear leg amputation. If a dog experiences weakness in all its limbs, a full support/4-wheel wheelchair is the solution.
Dog wheelchairs can also be used for rehabilitation when a dog is injured or recovering from surgery. The wheelchair allows the dog to go about its daily functions, while allowing for a healing period to rebuild strength and muscle.
Support Gives Gift of High Quality Time
With the support of a wheelchair, dogs with DM can continue to exercise their legs. This can decelerate the progression of the disease, especially if coupled with physical therapy or hydrotherapy and massage. Consequently, significant quality time can be added to a dog’s life.
For pet owners who do not choose surgery for dogs with IVDD, a dog wheelchair can be a lifesaver, as it can be for dogs with unsuccessful surgeries. Dog wheelchairs can also give senior dogs, amputees, and pups born with disabilities the support they need to live happy, healthy lives.
Today, dogs can “do their business” in wheelchairs, as well as run, play, hike, or romp on the beach. The Walkin’ Wheels even has a ski attachment so dogs can fully enjoy the snow in colder climates.
Harnesses Provide Lifting Support
Along with dog wheelchairs, harnesses have come a long way. Today, there are many harnesses on the market that address mobility issues.
Simple slings that wrap around a dog’s belly can provide support for a dog with minor mobility problems. Slings allow pet owners to give their dogs a gentle assist for quick potty breaks or when getting into a car.
When a little more support is needed, rear lift harnesses work well to lift the dog’s hind end. Rear lift harnesses are available in a variety of designs to suit different breeds and preferences.
Front and rear end harnesses that work in combination provide maximum support, when a complete lift might be necessary. Some harnesses, like the Walkin’ Lift Combo Harness, are also compatible with the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, offering a complete system of support.
Difficulty walking doesn’t need to be a death sentence for dogs, due to assistive pet products that enable them to live high quality lives! Harnesses and dog wheelchairs give pet owners the help they need to continue walking side by side with their best friends.