The wheelchair for humans serves the same purpose as that of pets, the difference lies in the morphology hence the difference in the anatomy of man and animals. I realized that some humans have no idea about a pet’s wheelchair and how it can be constructed.
Billy, my client’s 20months old Siberian husky dog was born with a congenital defect known as Amelia. Before I met Billy and his owner, the dog has been bedridden for the better part of his life. The day they walked into the clinic, Billy was brought in inside the pet carrier, this was how the owner moves him from point A to point B each time there is a need to. When I took a glance at Billy, I knew the dog’s life needed an intervention.
Billy’s owner wanted to put him up for sale at a very ridiculous price, he claimed he loved his dog so much, but the health condition was a turn-off. It baffled me he had no idea that there is a dog wheelchair in existence, thereby he just stayed and felt sorry for the poor dog which he could have offered 100% help by placing him on wheels. After I brushed up his knowledge on wheelchairs for dogs, he still couldn’t afford to buy a wheelchair, so I had to improvise a cheap dog wheelchair with some materials, Billy remained with his owner afterward as his main fears and worries were conquered with the DIY wheelchair, it was more or less a free wheelchair for Billy.
In most under-developed countries and some developing countries where the quality of living is low, they scarcely know about dog wheelchairs for crippled dogs. Dogs have a poor standard of care in such localities, both medical care, feeding, and otherwise. Just like Billy’s owner, when their dogs have issues with either the forelimbs or the hindlimbs, they seem to see the dog’s condition as a terminal sickness that will make the dog only a bitter liability for them. Some of them put the dog up for adoption, and some clients with such dog owners try hard to dispose of them by any possible means.
Though in recent times, pet owners are no longer so lax when it comes to helping their crippled dog, they improvise means to ensure the dog can move with little or no aid. The use of slings is more frequent in these regions, as well as therapies and medications, these are cheaper options. Government parastatals or some veterinary bodies can provide free dog wheelchairs for owners who are as helpless as their dogs in those regions.
Dogs with wheelchairs in case you are wondering can use the same stairs built for humans with wheelchairs when they visit public places with their owners. Though they are scarcely seen at the malls or such places, they are so loved and adorned by their owners, they also appear luxurious hence the wheelchair apparatus they have on.
After you’ve gone through this article, you will be enlightened on how to know and make the best dog wheelchair for your four-legged friend(s).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- FACTORS THAT PREDISPOSE DOGS TO THE USE OF WHEELCHAIR
- TYPES OF WHEELCHAIRS FOR DOGS
- MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE OF WHEELCHAIR FOR YOUR DOG
- HOW MUCH DOG WHEELCHAIR COST
- CHARTS FOR MEASUREMENTS
- HOW TO MAKE A WHEELCHAIR
Just as you cannot ignore a loved one who needs to be in a wheelchair, the same way there is a need to help your dog to move around by providing a doggie wheelchair for him or her. Wheelchairs for dogs can be very expensive depending on the type, but if you’re not buoyant enough, this article will help you make a very simply DIY wheelchair.
Before you can start making a dog wheelchair, there are things you will have to put into consideration, such as the breed of the dog, the weight, the temperament, and what purpose your dog serves, your dog could be a shepherd dog, guard dog or an alert dog, he will need a wheelchair that will serve the purpose.
FACTORS THAT PREDISPOSE DOGS TO WHEELCHAIR
You should know that any disease that compromises the normal state of the bone can affect your dog’s gait, and in turn, may predispose your dog to lameness if not managed properly and on time.
Below are some factors that can predispose the dog to a wheelchair.
This is a congenital defect whereby a puppy is born with missing forelimbs and/or hindlimbs, sometimes the forelimbs and hindlimbs may be present but incomplete. In situations as such, the puppy is nursed and managed till the dog is up to the period he/she will be able to move around using a dog wheelchair.
Accidents and traumas
Accidents involving fractures of the long bones (radius and ulna, humerus, femur, tibia and fibula, scapula blades) are a potent factor. A distortion in the radius and ulna bone or the humerus will most likely predispose your dog to use the dog wheelchair for the front legs, hence they are the forelimbs. When the femur, the tibia, and fibula bones are affected, the dog is most likely going to use the wheelchair for the hind legs(limbs). Traumatic effects involving the spinal cord can also subject your dog to the use of a wheelchair.
Canine hip dysplasia
This is the most common predisposing factor to the use of wheelchair support for back legs. Is a health state that is usually seen in growing puppies. It occurs when the femur head does not fit tightly into the acetabulum (a space where the femur joins with the pelvic bone), thereby causing pains while they move. When constructing a Dog wheelchair for hip dysplasia, the anatomical target of support is the femur bone. The supporting strap should pass under the pelvic bone to support the hip properly.
This occurs when the bones become weak as a result of alteration in mineral density, thereby exposing the bones to a higher tendency to fracture at the slightest application of pressure. Although with the right nutrition, osteoporosis can be curtailed to some extent, a sound veterinary doctor will opt-in for the dog to be placed in a wheelchair.
This is one of the most common predisposing factors to lameness in dogs. It can affect any of the joints in the forelimbs or hindlimbs, this occurs when the joints are poorly lubricated by the synovial fluids. When your dog is in motion, there is friction between the bones thereby subjecting the animal to severe pains.
One of the major causes of either partial or complete paralysis in dogs is a spinal injury. Trauma along any part of the spine can subject your dog to the use of a wheelchair for hindlegs or a full-body support wheelchair in the case of complete paralysis.
Loss of forelimbs or hindlimbs from surgical exercises will require you to get a doggie wheelchair. Surgical rehabilitation for hip or spine surgery and recoveries from certain surgical procedures such as orthopedic manipulations will ring a bell to get a doggie wheelchair for your best friend.
TYPES OF WHEELCHAIRS FOR DOGS
There are three categories of dog wheelchairs based on the body part it is supporting.
Wheelchairs for back legs (a wheelchair for hindlimbs)
This type of dog wheelchair is for dogs with compromises on their back legs, dogs, in general, have good vigor and mobility on their forelimbs, so when supported with this type of wheelchair, they do well. It can come with big Tyres or small ones depending on the size and breed of your dog. The picture below is that of a small breed.
Wheelchair for front legs (a wheelchair for forelimbs)
This type of doggie wheelchair is for dogs with front leg issues. The agility of the forelimbs cannot be compared with that of the rear limbs in the sense that the front legs are the main body propeller, so when they are compromised or are missing totally, it will be more difficult for the dog to adapt to the use of the wheelchair. This means that you will take extra caution while making the wheelchair for the dog’s back legs, any miscalculation can result in oversize or undersize which may furthermore affect your dog’s ability to move. The picture below shows a dog running in a wheelchair.
Full support dog wheelchairs
When your dog is having problems with all four limbs, a full-body support dog wheelchair is what will be needed. A good full-body support wheelchair usually has not less than four wheels. There are two back Tyres relative to the dog’s size, then small supporting wheels which are fastened to the side rails towards the anatomical location of the forelimbs. The small front wheels augment the back wheels, therefore an animal with complete paralysis is secured using this type of dog wheelchair.
Other types of dog wheelchair
Walkin’ wheels dog wheelchair for small dogs
This American brand of dog wheelchair was created in the memory of Mercedes, a slightly epileptic Keeshond pet. It was developed by Mark. C Robinson from Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com in 2001. This is suitable for dogs weighing 17 – 27lbs.
Walkin’ wheels dog wheelchair for large dogs
This wheelchair has a trusted reputation. It is suitable for dogs weighing between 70 – 180lbs. If you have a shepherd or attack dog, this is the most suitable for him.
Huggiecart dog wheelchair
This type of wheelchair is made from durable materials and is basically for small breeds of dogs weighing between 3 – 99lbs. If your dog is a small breed, you may need to go for this wheelchair. It has a full adjustability system and is suitable for alert dogs.
K9 carts dog wheelchair
If you are a veterinarian-conscious type of person while making choices for your pet, you may want to try out this wheelchair. They are designed and tested by veterinary orthopedic surgeons. It has lightweight and suitable for a dog that weighs 25 – 37lbs.
Best friend’s mobility wheelchair
This type of wheelchair provides a convenient front harnessing system with large wheels, it is adjustable and fits most sizes. If you are concerned about how your dog with rear leg lameness can use the toilet, this type of wheelchair gives room for such convenience, it is easy to clean.
Newlife mobility dog pet wheelchair
This wheelchair allows your dog to use the toilet comfortably. It is durable and has a large fitting range in the sense that it can fit a wide range of sizes and is conveniently adjustable. It is very easy in coupling.
Corgis dog wheelchair
Corgis are a type of dog breed with a long torso and short legs, just as the Lhasa breeds are usually prone to otitis externa due to their droopy ears, corgis are prone to back problems and mobility issues due to their body anatomy. This type of wheelchair supports their aching back comfortably.
Chewy dog wheelchair
This is a comfortable and sturdy type of dog wheelchair made by chewy.com. It has a wide range of sizes.
Baby stroller wheels, lawn mower wheels, shopping cart wheels, and some others are all types of Wheels to help dogs walk from one place to the other, those wheels make good Wheels for handicapped dogs hence they are portable in size and have a lightweight. When making a dog wheelchair, you can purchase the wheels on Alibaba or Aliexpress hence they are sold separately. Wheels for crippled dogs are not meant to be heavyweight otherwise the wheelchair will not serve the purpose.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE OF WHEELCHAIR FOR YOUR DOG
Whichever type of supporting wheels you intend to provide for your dog, it is best to go for the one that gives the best comfort while in motion and at rest. You may need to consult your vet if your dog has a life-challenging illness. A good dog wheelchair ought to be lightweight for easy movement and very adjustable. As a dog owner, pointing out a wheelchair to be the best dog wheelchair is relative to how it served you, most times it depends on how much effect it yielded for your dog. For instance, a-walkin’ wheels dog wheelchair may serve best as a paralyzed dog wheelchair but a sitgo dog wheelchair will do very well for a dog with rear leg compromises.
Also, consider the following:
Breed of your dog: A Lhasa apso will not use the same type of wheelchair as a Boerboel dog or Great Dane. While an adult Lhasa apso may use a small dog wheelchair with a material of neutral intensity, a Boerboel or Great Dane will need a large dog wheelchair with higher intensity. Diy small dog wheelchair can be very manipulative in construction and so you may choose to purchase it instead of making it yourself
Weight of the dog: if your dog is weighty, then you will apply extra caution to ensure you choose a wheelchair that will not suddenly spoil after 24hrs of use, or the type that may injure your dog when in use, this can be frustrating. You may choose the PVC material over rubber pipes if your dog is a heavyweight. Rubber pipes can easily be turned into crap by a hefty dog. Sharp edges are potential red flags and can Injure your dog.
The temperament of your dog: is your dog an aggressive type, overly anxious, or a nose poker? I’m not sure you would like to use a poor material for an aggressive dog or a nose poker if not the wheelchair you spent your money and energy to construct will turn into a snack, and your dog will chew it to crumbs. An aggressive dog when provoked will chew half of the wheelchair before you find out what is happening.
Use of the dog: No one will like to stress a dog in a wheelchair to go shepherd the flock of sheep in the field, but with the right wheels, there is minimal to no stress using it. If your dog is a Shepherd dog, rescue dog, attack dog, or security dog, you will need wheelchairs made from durable materials compared to when your dog is just an alert dog or pet dog. A four-wheel wheelchair for dogs is usually for dogs that need full-body support, so using it may be somewhat unnecessary if your dog can use a two-wheel wheelchair.
HOW MUCH IS A DOG WHEELCHAIR
While some dog wheelchairs such as DIY wheelchairs may cost as low as 20usd – 40usd to buy all the necessary materials and get it constructed, some others such as the best friend mobility wheelchair can rip the pocket, it can cost as much as 400usd. Whichever one you can afford, the most important thing is to get your best friend back to his feet. Homemade dog wheelchairs may look ugly when built with compromising materials, though they make the best cheap wheelchairs.
A used dog wheelchair is usually cheaper than a brand new one and can still serve a good purpose just like a newly constructed one. Provisions can be made in areas where dog owners who need them for their crippled dogs can easily have access to them. A fairly used large dog wheelchair can be purchased at some veterinary clinics. Time when a dog passes on, the wheelchair can be put up for sale or maybe reconstructed for a smaller dog.
- CHARTS FOR MEASUREMENTS
CHART FOR SMALL DOG WHEELCHAIR
CHART FOR MEDIUM DOG BREED WHEELCHAIR
CHART FOR LARGE DOG BREEDS WHEELCHAIR
HOW TO MAKE A DOG WHEELCHAIR
- 10ft PVC PIPES, ALUMINUM OR RUBBER PIPES
- PVC PIPE COVERS
- 4JOINTS OR CONNECTORS
(T & L) DRILL
- BICYCLE WHEELS OR LAWN ●MOWER WHEELS
- STRAPS OR HARNESS
- MEASURING TAPES OR RULER
- SAW OR PVC PIPE CUTTER
GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR DIY DOG WHEELCHAIR
Some wheelchairs are more sophisticated in construction than some others, and most at times cost higher than the simpler ones. This DIY procedure is for simple and cheap wheelchairs both large and small dogs. To help your good friend back on your feet, the first thing to do is to take an accurate measurement of the necessary body parts. Ensure the dog is in a standing position to get an accurate measurement. You may need someone to aid you in holding your dog up, especially if your dog cannot stand at all in the case of partial or complete paralysis.
- When making a wheelchair for dogs, take your dog’s height measurement from just above the hip joint (when making a wheelchair for hindlegs) or from just above the scapular blade (when making a wheelchair for forelimbs) of the lame leg down to the ground, let’s call this point AB.
- Get the girth measurement by placing one end of the tape at any area on the spine around the widest part of the body, pass the tape under the body and wrap the tape to the top, let’s call this point CD. The point CD will determine the fitting of the harness for your dog, a very important key to note, is if the harness is oversized, it will affect the dog’s efficiency in to use of the wheelchair.
- The length is measured from the hip joint to slightly above the scapula blade or behind the neck. The point where your measurement starts and stops is relative to the type of wheelchair you are constructing for your dog. Let’s call this point EF.
- To get the width, place a ruler or tape at the widest point on the body, stand up and look down directly above that area of the body and take the measurement. This will make for the distance between your dog’s body and the wheels. This point is GH.
- Cut out the measurements from the PVC pipes or your preferred material and set them aside. Point AB, CD, and EF will have two cut-outs each from the material, this will constitute the right side and left side of the wheelchair. Then join the Rear Cross Brace and the Lower Cross Brace using the T connectors.
- Using the L connectors or joints (whichever one you are using), connect the points AB with point CD, the T connectors will connect point AB to point EF which will make the wheel arm. Ensure that the edges of the PVC pipes are filed after cutting them, and secure each piece for 90degree angles throughout.
- Put the shoulder support straps, and fix the PVC covers tightly, this help to fasten the straps from coming off.
- Drill a hole in the PVC pipe at about ½ inches below or the region that fits the size of the wheels you have, place the nuts, and fasten the wheels to fix the wheels and connect GH.
- With the use of a saddle or harness, ensure the pipes are tightly fitted to your dog’s body.
- After coupling the materials, check for loose ends and nuts before you introduce your dog to the wheelchair.
The construction of a dog wheelchair is highly dependent on your dog’s size and need for it, therefore during the construction, ensure you follow the steps but then apply the measurements for your pet. Getting a wheelchair for your dog is a life-changing footstep to take, and your best friend will love you for this attempt. Occasionally your dog will need a physiotherapy session for him to improve. At the initial introduction of the wheelchair to your dog, it may take time for your dog to adapt, so you have to be patient, persistent, and consistent till he/she adapts to the use.
While walking a dog in a wheelchair on the street, you may practically have to count your footsteps especially if your dog is newly introduced to the use of wheelchairs, as you will not want to put so much stress on your dog, it can be tiring for a fast walker but when your dog gets used to using the wheelchair, the pace of your strolling may increase, also take note of when your dog starts showing signs of discomfort.
Wheelchair dogs should occasionally have a tournament, this is to encourage the pet owners to know that they are not alone in the challenge, this will also make the pets somewhat happy.
Ever seen a foldable wheelchair? This can be highly convenient when you have limited space in your house.
Can a dog in a wheelchair fly in an airplane? How convenient will it be for him/her to fit into a carrier? Which airline allows dogs to fly without a carrier?
We need to make amenities for our best friends’ inability.