Max, a 175 lb, Mastiff who measured 39" tall at the shoulder, next to Sweet Pea, a 40 lb. pitbull .
Here are some common myths about dog wheelchairs that we hear about - from both pet owners and veterinarians - and we'd like to dispel them.
Myth #1: Big dogs won't use carts. Over twenty years ago, when our 80 lb. Doberman became paralyzed in the rear, that's what we were told too. And in fact, the carts that were available twenty years ago did NOT work well for big dogs, which was why Ed designed his dog wheelchair differently - supporting the dog on the skeleton instead of the soft tissue. We have built carts for dogs up to 240 lbs., as well a couple of alpacas, a few goats, a couple of sheep, and a pot-bellied pig.
Myth #2: Dogs won't rehabilitate if you give them a cart = The Lazy Dog Myth. We have never met a dog who would rather use a wheelchair than walk without one. We have seen innumerable numbers of dogs, particularly those who have spinal compressions due to disc issues, torn acl's and those immobilized due to FCE's, rehabilitate while using a dog wheelchair. One key issue is making sure that the dog is supported in a normal weightbearing stance, with its feet on the floor. In order to motivate a dog to use its legs, it's crucial to activate whatever reflexes it may have and build upon them. Even if a dog uses stirrups to keep its feet from dragging, we recommend that the stirrups to be adjusted so that as the dog moves its legs, its toes come into contact with the rear crossbar, which provides feedback to whatever reflexes the paretic dog may have.
Myth #3: Old dogs can't use dog wheelchairs. The oldest dog for whom we ever built a cart was a cattle dog that was 22 years old, but we routinely build carts for dogs who are 14, 15, and 16 years old. Being old and unable to get up and go outside to toilet is probably one of the main reasons old dogs are euthanized. But if a dog is not in pain, and not sick - mobility challenges should not be death sentence. Many old dogs just have problems getting up - and for those we recommend the Helpemup Harness. We routinely recommend neutral balanced carts for geriatric dogs - this style of cart feels weightless on the dog's body and adds no load to the forelimbs, while supporting the rear legs completely.