We receive many inquiries from people who are wondering if a dog wheelchair is appropriate for their dog. The first question we ask is, ” how well is your dog walking on his own?” There are many reasons why a dog might benefit from a walking aid.
- Young healthy dogs who become paralyzed due to disc disease or spinal trauma (FCE)
- Middle-aged and older dogs becoming increasingly ataxic and wobbly due to degenerative myelopathy or poly-neuropathy.
- Pets with injuries to their limbs – amputees who are unable to walk comfortably for any distance on 3 legs, or dogs with torn ACL’s for whom surgery is not an option.
- Dogs with diseases such as Cushings, syringeomyelia, tick-born diseases causing paralysis
- Dogs born with congenital malformations of the front or rear legs who cannot ambulate well.
Dachshunds, with their long backs, are prone to calcifications of the spinal discs, and typically are between 4 and 7 years of age when those calcified discs impinge on the spinal cord causing paralysis in the rear legs. Many of these dogs will undergo spinal surgery, or be confined to cage rest for a period of 6 weeks in hopes of recovering their mobility. For those dogs who do not regain feeling in their rear legs, a cart is a passport to a life of independence and play again. Other breeds of dogs who are prone to disc disease include basset hounds, corgis,pit bulls, Dobermans, and German Shepards.
A common myth is that once a dog relies on a dog wheelchair to get around, he’ll come to depend on it and never walk on his own again. Our experience is completely opposite – MANY dogs with disc injuries use their carts and rehabilitate over the course of 6 months to 2 years. The very first dog for whom Eddie built a dog wheelchair, his own Doberman, Buddha, used her wheels for 6 months, and went from total rear paralsis to walking on her own again.
Recently we met with Leon, a dachshund who had had disc surgery 14 months ago and has been using a cart for over a year. He is now able to walk short distances without his wheelchair, and we expect that he will continue to rehabilitate as he uses his wheelchair as a walker to regain strength and stability.