No one ever wants to think about someone they love needing a wheelchair. Whether they are there due to injury, old age, or a chronic condition like arthritis, no one wants to imagine someone they care about suddenly losing their ability to stand and walk without pain.
The same holds true for your beloved pooch. No matter the cause, you don’t want to see them wheelchair-ridden. That said, if your dog absolutely must be relegated to a wheelchair, you want to make sure the experience is as comfortable for them as possible. That’s especially true if you have had this dog for a long time. They have been faithful to you for a long time, and now it’s time for you to return the favor.
With that in mind, let’s think over these four quick tips for choosing the right wheelchair for your aged or disabled dog.
Temporary or Permanent
The first thing you’ll want to determine when considering what type of wheelchair to get your four-legged friend in need is how long they will be wheelchair-bound. Different models have different strengths. Which of them are called for in your dog’s case will depend greatly on whether they’ll be in the wheelchair temporarily or permanently.
If your dog is in need of temporary assistance, you may be able to go for a less expensive option or skip wheelchairs altogether and opt for a walking sling harness instead. On the flip side, if your dog is weakened by age, in for a long recovery, or facing a permanent condition, you’ll need a wheelchair that is built for the long haul. Either way, you’ll want to talk to your vet and see what they have to say. They should be able to point you in the direction of the right sling harness or dog wheelchair.
The Towel Test
If you do need a long-term wheelchair, you’ll want to know what type is right for your dog. This will depend on a variety of factors, not the least of which is their age and the nature of their injury. This involves draping a towel or shopping bag around your dog’s waist and seeing how well they are able to support themselves.
If they are able to place their front paws on the floor with stability and little to no pain, chances are a rear-limb wheelchair will suffice.
On the other hand, if they are unable to do this due to a lack of stability, one or more of their limbs missing, severe pain, or some combination thereof, you’ll probably want to look into forelimb or full-body wheelchairs.
Most rear-limb wheelchairs attach around the waist and torso via a harness while a support bar slips under their body. You’ll want to acclimate your dog to their new wheelchair slowly and give them treats so as to make sure they have a positive impression of it. These wheelchairs can also help with decompression of the spine.
Fore-Limb and Full-Body Wheelchairs
The best fore-limb and body wheelchairs can take the vast majority of the stress away from the front of your dog’s body. Moreover, full-body models feature wheels in the front or back, as needed, with supports that run throughout the body. These wheelchairs can help with a variety of serious conditions, including:
- Support following knee, hip, and spinal surgeries
- Support for degenerative myelopathy
- Support following ruptured discs
- Support for other spinal conditions
- Support for arthritis
- Support following amputations
Whether your dog requires a short- or long-term wheelchair, reviewing their situation with these tips can help ensure you get them the help they need.
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