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8 Things You Must Know Before Buying a Dog Wheelchair

Choosing the right dog wheelchair for your pet doesn’t have to be challenging. Want to become a dog wheelchair expert? Here are eight things you need to know before buying a dog wheelchair.

1. How Dog Wheelchairs Work

dog wheelchair chocolate lab

The Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair is designed to get your senior or disabled pet back on their feet. Dog wheelchairs provide mobility assistance for pets dealing with hind leg weakness or paralysis. These carts are made to give dogs the support they need to live an active lifestyle.

A rear wheel dog wheelchair is the most common style of mobility cart. The wheelchair supports a pet’s back legs and hind end to help your pet gets the exercise they need.

The wheelchair features a set of rear leg rings that support directly under a dog’s pelvis, so that they can stand, walk and run just like any other dog.

2. What Are the Different Parts of a Wheelchair?

1. The Wheelchair Frame

The frame is the main support of a dog’s wheelchair. The Walkin’ Wheels is made of a lightweight, durable extruded aluminum (similar to a bicycle frame). In the back of the cart, is a width extender, and by using the different push buttons the wheelchair can be made narrower or wider to best fit the pet. Similarly, the silver side extenders, extend out the front of the wheelchair frame allowing you to make the wheelchair longer or shorter as needed.

2. The Front Harness

Each rear Walkin’ Wheels wheelchairs comes with a three-point harness with support straps that sit over the shoulders, across the chest, and behind the front legs for a secure fit. The harness helps to keep your dog’s wheelchair in place and clips into the side extenders for safety.

3. The Wheels and Struts

The wheels and struts attach to the legs of the wheelchair frame. Each strut features push button adjustability so that wheelchair will comfortably fit the height of the pet. The size wheels and struts are determined based off your pet’s rear leg height measurement.

4. The Rear Leg Rings

The rear leg rings attach to the back of your pet’s wheelchair to support it’s hind end from underneath. Your pet’s back legs will be place on either side of the two “C’s” to create a saddle to support them.

5. Stirrups and Belly Belt

Both the stirrups and belly belt are optional, and not every pet will need to use them. For paralyzed pets, the stirrups are used to safely lift a dog’s feet up off the ground and prevent dragging. The belly belt can be used to support the center of a pet’s body, this is most often used for pet’s with a bad back or if their back dips down.

3. When to Get a Dog Wheelchair

It’s never too early to get your dog a wheelchair. If your dog is stumbling, losing their balance or tiring easily it’s time to consider a wheelchair. It’s true that many wheelchair dogs are paralyzed or suffered a traumatic injury but, that’s not the case with every dog. Many wheelchair dogs still walk on all four paws and even stand on their own. The Walkin’ Wheels provides support, allowing your dog to stand upright and get the exercise they so desperately need. Even dogs that can still move their back legs, benefit from using a wheelchair!

Older dogs who tire easily on long walks or whose joint’s ache from arthritis or hip dysplasia can greatly benefit from a wheelchair. The wheelchair supports them from underneath, relieving the stress on their joints which allows your dog to walk with ease! How you dog uses their wheelchair is up to you! Many dogs use the wheelchair every day, while other pets only on days when they need a little extra help.

For dogs recovering from injury or surgery the Walkin’ Wheels can help them get back on their feet faster. A wheelchair can even be a wonderful addition to your dog’s rehabilitation program!

4. What Conditions Do Wheelchairs Help Dogs With?

Large dog runs in Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair

Dogs use a wheelchair for a whole host of reasons, although paralysis is one of the more common reasons dogs can, in fact, continue to walk using all four legs and benefit from a wheelchair’s support!

5. How to Choose the Right Wheelchair for Your Dog

Choosing the right cart for your dog can be overwhelming. How do you know if a dog wheelchair is the right choice for your pet? Luckily, the first step is an easy one, a simple test to help determine if your dog is a good candidate for a wheelchair. The towel test helps you to check how much leg strength your senior pet has.

To determine the level of support your dog needs, try this simple towel test:

Depending on your pet’s condition and mobility needs, they may require different levels of support. If your pet can easily work forward with your aid, they need a rear wheel dog wheelchair. If during the towel test your dog can step forward, but their front legs splay outward they need the support of a 4-wheel wheelchair.

Evaluate Your Pet’s Health and Mobility

Rear Dog Wheelchairs

Rear support wheelchairs are ideal for pets with hind leg weakness, injury or paralysis. The rear wheelchair supports your dog from underneath, providing balance and stability. This allows your dog to stand, walk, run and play again! Pets with completely paralyzed rear legs can use the stirrups to elevate your dog’s rear paws safely off the ground, preventing injury caused from scraping or dragging feet.

Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair

Full Support Wheelchair

A four wheel or quad wheelchair is perfect for dogs who are experiencing weakened limbs in the front and back legs. Your dog’s front legs must be strong enough to drive and steer their quad wheelchair. The Full Support wheelchair is a great option for dog’ with progressive diseases like Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) that will worsen over time.

Full Support Dog Wheelchair
Full Support Dog Wheelchair

6. How to Adjust to Life on Wheels

The transition into a wheelchair is an easy one for most pets. Dogs want to be moving and they learn quickly that their wheelchair is going to help them. Even dogs who haven’t run in months are so happy to be back on their feet that when using their Walkin’ Wheels for the first time, they take off! The transformation is incredible. You can see the joy in their face as they run for the first time in months.

If your dog doesn’t take off running right away, the wheelchair may just need a few minor adjustments to make them more comfortable. If you’re not sure the wheelchair is set up perfectly, snap a few photos and send them to our Wheelchair Experts to review. With a few tweaks and some encouragement from you, your dog will be running around in no time!

7. Key Wheelchair Features to Consider

Now that you know your dog needs a wheelchair, here are some key wheelchair features to help you select the best dog wheelchair for your pet:


Since dog’s come in all shapes and sizes, it’s important to choose one that can be sized to perfectly fit their needs.

The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair is available in four frame sizes, Mini, Small, Medium and Large. And can accommodate pets as small as 2 lbs. and as large as 180 lbs. The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair is fully adjustable with adjustments for width, height, and length.

mini dog wheelchair
small dog wheelchair
medium dog wheelchair
large dog wheelchair

The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair frame is constructed of lightweight, durable aluminum. It’s light enough for even the smallest dogs to maneuver with ease and durable enough for your dog to hike up a mountain!

Size is especially important when dealing with large breed dogs. Custom carts can be too big or bulky to travel easily with. Some may not even fit into your car! Choose a wheelchair that can fold flat and easily packed.

Benefits of a Fully Adjustable Wheelchair

Benefits of a Fully Adjustable Wheelchair

A fully adjustable wheelchair is going to be more versatile. And you might be able to use it for multiple dogs.

The Walkin’ Wheels features push button adjustability, allowing you to easily adjust the height, length and width, allowing you to fine tune the size to perfectly fit your dog! An adjustable cart gives your dog a customized fit without the custom price.

Will it Adapt to Fit Your Dog’s Needs?

Often mobility loss begins with weakness in a dog’s rear legs and as the condition progresses the dog’s mobility worsens over time. In many cases, the weakness slowly works its way up the spine and eventually impacts the front leg strength as well. To ensure that your dog continues to get the support they need, choose a wheelchair that can adapt as your dog’s mobility and health needs change.

The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair is designed to adapt to your dog’s changing health needs. It easily converts from a rear wheel wheelchair into a full support four-wheel wheelchair. Giving your dog support in both the front and rear legs when they need it.

7. Can My Dog Go to the Bathroom in a Wheelchair?

Yes, your dog can relieve themselves while using their Walkin’ Wheels! Both male and female pets can pee and poop freely while using their wheelchair.

Rear leg rings support your pet from underneath. And are positioned for your pet to comfortably relieve themselves. For dogs with a long tail, simply place your dog’s tail over the back bar of the wheelchair to keep it from being soiled.

Dogs can go to the bathroom while using their Walkin’ Wheels, and it may even help them to go! Injured and disabled dogs tend to be less active which can impact their internal functions. Once they are in their wheelchair, they stand upright and move more. This encourages their body to relieve themselves naturally as they walk.

Read our dedicated guide to whether dogs can Pee or Poop in a Dog Wheelchair

8. Wheelchairs Aren’t Just for Dogs Anymore!

There was a time not too long ago when it was a shock to see a dog on wheels, but that’s not the case anymore! Now more than ever, pets are family! Pet parents around the world are willing to go above and beyond to help their fur baby. There was a time not too long ago, where it might have seemed odd to see a dog in a wheelchair. But that’s not true anymore!

Wheelchairs are recommended and commonly prescribed by pet care professionals for countless mobility issues and conditions. They’ve become a key component in animal rehabilitation and treatment. And the pet mobility movement has spread far beyond dogs. All different kinds of animals have used the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, including cats, rabbits, sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, turtles and even a raccoon.

Still have questions? We’re here to help! Contact our Wheelchair Experts at 888-253-0777.

Dogs Enjoying Life with Walkin’ Wheels

Discover Dog Wheelchairs and Harnesses

Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Rear Wheelchair
Sunny out for a spring stroll with the aid of her full support dog wheelchair
Full Support Dog Wheelchair
German Shepherd DM harness
Walkin’ Combo Harness
Dr. Sarah J. Wooten DVM, CVJ's Profile Picture

Guest Author:
Dr. Sarah J. Wooten DVM, CVJ

Dr. Sarah J. Wooten DVM, CVJ is a small animal veterinarian, writer, public speaker, and established leader in veterinary medicine. Her passion in writing and speaking from the heart on client communication and service.

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  1. Please send me information I have a German shepherd who has neurological issues and has issues with his back legs. I am disabled myself and was wondering if you have or know of any resources so I can get help so I can help him. He has taken care of me his whole life and it kills me that I dont have mo ney to help him now . Thank you very much!

  2. We have a 14 year old German Shepherd with bad hips. She is in alot of pain, will it be painful for her in the wheelchair? How hard is it to get her in and out of it so she can rest and lay down? I love the idea of this.

    Thanks so much for your help.

    • Hi Pamela – a wheelchair is a great idea for dogs who are struggling with bad hips. The wheelchair gently supports them from underneath, allowing them to walk fully supported without having to bear full weight on their back legs. Keeping a dog active. It’s very easy to take your dog out of the wheelchair, once your comfortable its a matter of seconds to get a dog in or out of their wheels. We even offer optional harnesses which make it even easier and create a nice comfy seat while your dog is in their wheelchair. German Shepherds do exceptionally well in wheelchairs and usually take to them right away. Please call us at 888-253-0777, we’re happy to answer any other questions you may have!

  3. Hi! Could you please send me information, I have 16 yrs old very happy Pug/Jack Russell, he weighs about 33 lbs and one of his back legs is giving him hard time. He has arthritis. I need help determining the size, price information and delivery times to Orlando, Florida. Thank you so much for your help.

    • Good Morning Margherita, we are happy to help answer any of your questions. Someone will be reaching out to you shortly.

  4. Hi my moms German shepherd dog had an accident and fell down some of her stairs the vet says her two back legs are paralyzed. She has been dragging her back legs and is causing them to scrap and bleed. Which type of wheel chair would you recommend? Also can dogs sleep with the wheelchair on or does the wheelchair have to be taken off for the dog the lay down?

    • Hi Regina – so sorry to hear about your mom’s German Shepherd. We see a lot of GSD with mobility issues and they do very well in the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, German Shepherd’s tend to adjust to a life on wheels very quickly. Dog wheelchairs are designed to help a dog get the exercise they need, so when it’s time to rest they would need to come out of the wheelchair. Please call us at 888-253-0777 our Wheelchair Specialists would be happy to answer any questions you may have!

  5. […] “The transition into a wheelchair is an easy one for most pets. Dogs want to be moving and they learn quickly that their wheelchair is going to help them. Even dogs who haven’t run in months are so happy to be back on their feet…The transformation is incredible. You can see the joy in their face as they run for the first time in months.” – The team at Walkin’ Pets Blog […]

  6. Great article. I however came to this article when searching for “how can a dog rest in a wheelchair”?.

    I’m considering getting one for my dog and wondering what would happen if I weren’t around to assist my dog get off the wheelchair.

    Is it possible for the dog to rest in it?

    • Hi Collins,

      The wheelchair is designed to help your dog get the exercise they need. When it’s time to rest they would be taken out of the chair so that they can rest. If you’d like your dog to run and be able to lay down, I would recommend taking a look at the Walkin’ Scooter

  7. Is there a video for sizing and putting the unit together and where all the straps go. I was donated a Walkin Wheels for my Mini Schnauzer and it has been well used. Once on my baby, it does not seem like it is comfortable. it seems like it rubbing and that there should be a strap that goes over his back end as he is wanting to walk on his front legs which lifts his rear up.
    Please advise

  8. Hello, my medium size Staffie X Kelpie has had a rear leg amputation and the other 3 legs are not all that strong. What type of wheelchair would you recommend For a rear leg amputee.?

    • Hi Lorraine – If your pup is weak in all three legs, it sounds like your Staffie mix needs a full support, four wheel wheelchair. This will support the front legs and back legs making it easier for your dog to get around and remain active. If you have any questions, please call us at 888-253-0777.

  9. Hello, I purchased your wheelchair for my 13 year old Lab/Pointer Mix Bruiser in October. I bough it second hand from a man who only was bale to use it twice with his dog who passed away. I have seen noticeable improvements since we began using the wheelchair. Would you still offer me customer support with adjustments. I would be more than happy to send videos and pictures. Thank you Elliot and Bruiser from St Petersburg, Florida

  10. I have a Australian Shepard who just turned 11. I came home yesterday and he was dragging one of his hind legs. Then in 45 minutes he had no mobility of his rear. The vet thinks it’s a slipped / herniated/ or ruptured disk. He walks a bit with his front legs but gets tired I think due to not ever having this issue. He is looking urine, it’s all scary when he was done at 3 yesterday.
    What would you recommend?

    • Hi Lori, first I’m so sorry to hear about your Australian Shepherd. A slipped disc happens suddenly and the change in a dog’s mobility can be instantaneous. First thing you need to do is have your pup assessed by a veterinarian or canine neuro specialist. Herniated discs can be treated surgically or through anti-inflammatory medications and strict crate rest. Your vet will help you decide what’s best for your dog based on the severity of the ruptured disk and it’s location. A wheelchair along with rehab exercises may be necessary to keep your Aussie mobile in the long run, but first he needs to be seen and treated.

  11. Our lab got hit by a car. X-rays show multiple pelvic fractures and would require major surgery (fusing/pins). We have pain pills for her but my question is would a wheel chair work for an unstable pelvis. She is still cognitive and no other major injuries we’re aware of. Or at what point do we call it?

    • Hi Justin, I’m so sorry to hear about your lab. I would definitely check with your veterinarian about a wheelchair. It certainly could help, but since the wheelchair supports directly under your dog’s pelvis you want to make sure that the support is where your dog needs it and is going to be comfortable for her particular injuries. Certainly a dog wheelchair can be extremely beneficial for dog’s recovering from traumatic injuries, they help to keep them upright, and supported which can make a world of difference in a dog’s recovery process. If you have any questions, please call us at 888-253-0777

  12. I have a 10 yr old small pittie 51lbs.
    She had Acl surgery last March and has healed pretty good.
    No she has torn her other Acl.
    Other than her back leg problems she is pretty healthy.
    Although she does not like to be handle much at all.
    I’m pretty concerned that she is totally dependent on her leg that she had her first acl surgery on not even a year ago!
    My fear is that she may re injured the somewhat good leg and have to be euthanized.
    That would absolutely devastate our family.
    I was hoping that this could be a great help for her next surgery recovery time?
    Please send me all the info you can on the wheel chair.
    So I can ask my vet if this is a possibility for her to use during recovery.
    Thanks,Bettie Cox

    • Hi Bettie,

      It’s quite common for dogs that tear one ACL to tear their other ACL within the first year. A wheelchair can greatly reduce the amount of weight your dog places on their back legs, allowing them to walk easily without straining themselves or reinjury. Please give us a call at 888-253-0777 and we can help answer any other questions you may have.

  13. I have a young goat with a disc problem, she is healing slowly but would be good to get her up a little each day. Have been looking at dog wheelchairs for her, would your read legs wheelchairs would for a goat? She is semi-paralyzed both hind legs.

    • Hi Brina, I’m so sorry to hear about your goat. We have had a lot of success with goats using the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair. After dogs and cats, goats are probably the most common animal we see using a wheelchair. Please give us a call at 888-253-0777, we would be happy to answer any of your questions!

  14. My pekingnese/maltese x is 14 yr old he has cancerous tumours on his left front leg. There is nothing more our vet can do apart from amputate his leg, at 14yo I coan not put him through another operation with no guarantee that he would survive the op. I would just to make him more comfortable walking. Thank you

    • Hi Carol, delivery time will vary depending on the shipping option you select and where the order is being delivered. We know how important it is to get your pet the help they need as quickly as possible and we pride ourselves on getting any order placed before 2 pm EST out the same day! Please call us at 888-253-0777 so we can talk to you about your shipping options and how quickly you will receive your order!

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