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How Do I Know If a Dog Wheelchair is Right for Me?

Maintaining your dog’s mobility and activity levels is crucial for their physical and mental well-being. Assistive devices, such as a dog wheelchair, were developed specifically for this purpose. Although the idea of a dog wheelchair may have seemed ludicrous a few years ago, it now plays a vital role in helping countless dogs that struggle with mobility issues. 

Unsure if a wheelchair is right for your dog? You’re not alone. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming. If you’re not sure what the right mobility solution is for your dog, we can help.  

What a dog wheelchair does 

When you think of a wheelchair, you’re likely to imagine someone who is immobile, sitting down, unable to stand or move their legs. A dog wheelchair is very different from this. Although there are paralyzed dogs that benefit from a wheelchair, the experience is much closer to a set of crutches or even a walker.  

Just like a walker, when a dog uses a cart, they stand upright and can move their back legs. The wheelchair’s frame offers support and stability enabling them to walk (and even run) with its assistance. The rear wheels of the wheelchair are in line with the dog’s hips and act as additional support for the dog’s legs. In short, a dog wheelchair is a mobility tool that helps a dog to walk and stay active.  

Assessing a dog’s need for a wheelchair 

  • Does your dog tire easily? 
  • Do their back legs shake or give out occasionally? 
  • Does your dog struggle to stand? 
  • Has your dog’s hind end atrophied?  
  • Is maintaining balance an issue for your dog? 
  • Has your dog’s mobility noticeably changed? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your dog could benefit from a cart. Dog wheelchairs aren’t just for fully paralyzed pups. There are a whole host of reasons why a dog might need a wheelchair for temporary use as they recover from a knee injury or for longer-term mobility support for older dogs dealing with joint pain or mobility loss. Talk to your veterinarian for support and guidance. Your vet understands your dog’s diagnosis, what level of support your dog needs, and can help guide you to the right mobility solution for your pet. 

Test your dog’s leg strength  

The towel test is a quick and simple way to test your dog’s leg strength. Grab a towel and place it under the abdomen and hips. Gently lift until your dog’s back legs are no longer touching the ground and walk forward. The towel supports your dog very similarly to how a cart would support them, if your dog can move forward easily, their front legs are strong, and this is a good indication that your dog would do very well with a rear wheel dog wheelchair.  

8 Reasons Why a Dog Might Need a Rear Wheelchair 

1. Arthritis  

As a degenerative condition, many pet parents don’t realize how significant an impact arthritis has on their dog’s mobility. Often attributed to old age, “slowing down” can be an indication that your dog’s joints ache and their becoming less active is due to it being too difficult for them to walk. A wheelchair can greatly reduce the weight your dog places on their arthritic joints and help them to move without straining themselves or causing unnecessary pain.  

2. Leg weakness 

The signs of leg weakness can start out very subtly. Physical signs can include struggling on the stairs, having a hard time standing up after a nap, or occasional loss of balance to name just a few. Physically, your dog’s hind end may appear thinner and bonier as they lose muscle mass in their back legs. A wheelchair can provide extra support and help your dog to rebuild some leg strength.  

3. Rehabilitation and recovery 

Exercise is vital for any dog, but one that’s recovering from an injury or after surgery needs to stay active in a safe way to prevent muscle atrophy. A wheelchair provides stability, giving your dog a safe way to stand and walk without injuring itself further. Many rehab specialists will incorporate using a wheelchair into their therapy sessions because it allows a dog to stand upright and be supported as they work to help the dog to regain strength, improve range of motion, and increase its stamina.  

4. Knee Injury 

Whether waiting for cruciate surgery, rehabbing an injury, or protecting your dog’s remaining healthy knee, a dog wheelchair is a great option for canine cruciate tears. The balance and support provided by a cart reduces the strain on your dog’s knee as it heals and helps them to stay active. 

5. Hip Dysplasia 

Although hip dysplasia’s impact on a dog’s mobility can vary greatly, in severe cases, joint pain can make it difficult for a dog to stand or walk without assistance. A cart can lessen the burden on a dog’s hips and reduce the pressure placed on the legs which can make it easier for a dog to walk.  

6. Degenerative Myelopathy  

Degenerative Myelopathy, or DM, is a mobility condition that progressively worsens over time. In its earliest stages, a dog with DM may have weak back legs or drag their paws when walking. An adjustable wheelchair is essential as the mobility loss will get worse, and exercise is vitally important to slow the disease’s progression.  

7. IVDD  

Also known as Intervertebral Disc Disease, IVDD is a spinal condition that can impact a dog’s hind leg function and even cause paralysis. Quite common in dachshunds, IVDD dogs often use a wheelchair for support as they heal.  

8. Hind Limb Amputation 

Many tripod dogs get around just fine on three legs, but as they get older the strain of bearing all their weight on one back leg can catch up to them. They may experience arthritis in their remaining limb or even struggle to fully support themselves, this is where a wheelchair can really help. Instead of leaning to one side, the wheelchair allows the tripod to stand level to reduce the weight on the remaining leg.  

An Active Dog’s Owner Has Success with Dog Wheelchair

I purchased a Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair for my fourteen year old blue heeler. In just two days, we have gone for a walk at the park and played ball for the first time in over 16 months. She is a very active dog, and I would have been devastated if I would have had to put her down. I cherish this dog wheelchair of yours. I was concerned that it would be hard to adjust, but I figured it out, and pictures really helped. I would like to thank the inventor on behalf of my dog Kiva. She is not 100%, but Kiva is really close to being herself again.

I would like to tell people who are considering purchasing a Walkin’ Wheels to stay focused, read instructions, and be patient. Most dogs won’t figure out how to make the turns immediately, but Kiva was making turns within only two days and after spending only approximately 30 minutes in her wheelchair. Thank you for your help for Kiva.

– Travis T.


Maintaining your dog’s mobility and activity levels is crucial for their physical and mental well-being. the decision to get your best friend a cart, is a testament to your love and commitment to your pup. With the right assistance and support, your dog can continue to enjoy the activities they love.. So, if you’re still wondering if a dog wheelchair is the right choice for your pet, consult with your veterinarian, explore the possibilities, and give your beloved dog the gift of mobility and freedom they deserve.

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