A dog wheelchair can save your dog's life

Hunter was ecstatic to be mobile again in a dog wheelchair.


We received a phone call  from a local person the other night – he’d been told by his vet that he should think about putting his five year German Short Pointer down because he had suddenly “gone down” in the rear and was incapable of walking on his own.  The well-meaning veterinarian told him he needed to make some hard decisions based on his pet’s best interest and potential quality of life. After all – this was a young dog, used to a high level of activity, spends lots of time outdoors and in the woods – certainly you couldn’t expect a this dog to put up with a wheelchair.

The owner was calling in the hope that we’d be able to try Hunter out in a cart and see how he’d respond to being in a dog wheelchair.  We told them to come right over.

Hunter was just as upset with his disability as his family was.  He clung to his “dad” and needed reassurance that this was not a vet’s office and we wouldn’t be doing anything that would make him more uncomfortable.  We did our basic evaluation by using a Helpemup Harness to stand him up and see just how much feeling and strength he had.  We found that he had reflexes in both his feet, had control over his bladder and bowels, and that his tail could still wag.  We took his measurements and then went out on our deck and found him a recycled cart that was  the right size.  We adjusted the height and length to make it fit him perfectly and took him outside.

At first his legs dragged behind him, but then spontaneously his legs kicked into gear – fired by those reflexes we knew he had and before long he was walking in the wheelchair.  We made another height adjustment to give him perfect traction and he started running in the cart.    Hunter’s whole face lit up with joy and relief – as did his family’s.

The moral of this  story is this – don’t let your vet’s skepticism about your dog’s ability to use a wheelchair stop you from trying.  Most dogs with mobility challenges are not giving up on life – and they will adapt to using a cart.  After a short period of time, they simply forget about the wheels and go back to being dogs.   A well fitted cart can save a dog’s life – and give him the time to heal from traumatic injuries.

2 Responses to A dog wheelchair can save your dog's life

  1. Heather at New England Pet Hospice April 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    I love this entry, Leslie. As you know, NOT GIVING UP on animals is a major part of our work at New England Pet Hospice. Even the kindest most compassionate pet parent and the most well-meaning veterinarian may not know about the options that can literally give life back to our animals, for whatever time they have left.

    Thank you, as always, for your wonderful work and for sharing it with all of us.

    Happy Spring,
    Founder and Team Leader
    New England Pet Hospice, Inc.

  2. Elizabeth A. Enneper March 10, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    I just watched your “Sweet Pea” video and she is just like my Boxer/”Maximus”. My four-legged child has DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease) otherwise overall very healthy. Maximus is experiencing increased paralysis in his hind quarters (lumbar area) and his right leg is significantly weaker than his left leg. I purchased and Maximus test drove a Bestfriend Mobility wheelchair and it did not properly fit him. Unfortunately, I was concerned that the instability of the chair would cause additional stress on Maximus’ lumbar spine and increase paralysis. Maximus and I would like to personally meet with your staff to customize a cart that will give Maximus his life back. He has the “will” now it’s my responsibility to give him the “way”. At your earliest convenience, please contact me at (262)914-2763 so I have the opportunity to give Maximus the unconditional love he has given me his entire life. God Bless You and looking forward to hearing from you soon, Elizabeth A. Enneper- 6204 32nd Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53142

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