Owners of dogs with degenerative myelopathy are faced with coping with a disease that progressive – starting with a gradual loss of feeling in the rear legs, it moves forward, eventually affecting the dog’s core strength and front legs. A simple rear wheel cart is sufficient to keep these dogs active and mobile for as long as a year sometimes. By then, the rear legs have usually lost muscle mass, and need to be suspended in stirrups to keep them from simply dragging behind them.
What is so heartbreaking about this disease is that it’s painless, and except for the loss of mobility, their dogs are healthy and happy. They want to keep on doing what they normally do – go for walks, play, and be engaged with their owners. Over the years, we’ve provided upgrades to standard carts – these upgrades move the wheels forward, and in conjunction with a support strap under the chest, dogs whose forelimbs are affected are able to continue to use their wheels for as much as a year longer.
A variable axle dog wheelchair has an axle with up to 6 settings that allow dog owners to change the balance of the cart themselves over the course of the disease’s progression. For those dog owners who are committed from the beginning to dealing with this disease in all its stages, a variable axle cart gives them the ability to fine-tune the cart themselves without coming back to us for upgrades. By simply unscrewing the wheels and moving them forward, weight is taken off the front legs. As the wheels move closer to the center of the cart, up to 35% of the dog’s own body weight can be taken off the front legs.
This is a particularly convenient option for our customers who are a great distance from our shop and do not have the option of coming here for upgrades.
Savanna’s owner decided to get a variable axle cart upgrade only a couple of months after getting a standard cart for her Rhodesian Ridgeback. When we adjusted the cart for her, we put the wheels in a “neutral balance” position, removing the tongue weight of the yoke off her shoulders, even though she had terrific forelimb strength. She loved the weightless feel of the cart. The owner felt empowered and able to take some level of control by having the ability to respond to the progression of the disease.
For more information about our full array of options for owners of DM dogs, please read the page on Degenerative Myelopathy.