Dog Wheelchairs – Custom or Adjustable Cart?

By nakedbarra | January 19, 2012

Whether to select a custom made dog cart or an adjustable dog wheelchair is one of the most frequently asked questions. This article gives you the information you need.

Dog wheelchairs have been around for 20 years. At first they were built for specific dogs by their owners or friends. Eventually they became more widespread and could be ordered by taking dozens of measurements, sending them to the builder, who would create a set of wheels for the dog in as little as a few weeks.

This is the way many industries begin, but the ‘custom made’ aspects of new products don’t last long. Soon the dog wheelchair industry became large enough to support some invention and innovation and the adjustable dog wheelchair was introduced.

The main advantage of a custom made wheelchair is that, if made correctly, will fit your dog precisely. This is good, but, as dog owners soon found out, there were a number of problems with custom-made dog wheelchairs.

1. A dozen or more measurements were required in order to build a dog wheelchair that fit.
2. If the measurements were not correct, the wheelchair would be useless, or would require a return to the manufacturer.
3. If the dog’s health changed for the better or the worse, the cart could not be adjusted to accommodate this. This was a terrible problem for growing dogs.
4. Often the carts were quite cumbersome. In order to get them in a suitcase or the trunk of a car they would need complex disassembly.
5. They took as long as two weeks to build when often they were needed immediately.
6. Because there was so much labor involved, the cart could not easily be returned if the dog was unable to use it for any reason.
7. When the dog it was made for no longer needed it, it could not easily be adapted for another dog.

In 2006, Mark C. Robinson, founder of handicappedpets.com, mortgaged his house, borrowed all the money he could, and hired a team of engineers to design the ‘perfect’ dog wheelchair.

The features he asked for were:

· Adjustable – The wheelchair needs to adjust, without tools, to fit any size dog.
· Folds Flat – So it can be carried easily.
· Looks great – So many of the custom wheel chairs were made of tubing and clamps – this one needed to be stylish and good looking.
· Easy to Service – All parts had to be easily replaceable so the dog wheelchair would last a lifetime.

Two years later the Walkin’ Wheels for Handicapped Pets was introduced and immediately became the most popular dog wheelchair available. Because it was so adjustable,

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it could be carried in retail stores and by veterinarians, ordered overnight, re-sold to any other dog, donated to shelters, and shipped internationally. It was a resounding success.

Once the Walkin’ Wheels became a market leader, Robinson was faced with the question of whether to manufacture the product in the US or overseas. This was a difficult question which he answered by doing “what was best for the dogs.” In order for as many animals as possible to be helped by this product, it needed to be mass-produced and sold retail. That wouldn’t work if the product cost twice as much as the old-style custom cart. Finally, he decided to make 80% of the Walkin’ Wheels overseas and 20% in a factory in Cleveland Ohio.

Since then, the Walkin Wheels has been featured on Animal Planet, has won the “Best Product” award from Pet Age magazine, has been on CNN, NECN, and ABC news and featured in dozens of pet magazines.It is sold internationally.

Here’s a quick comparison between the Walkin’ Wheels and Custom Carts.
Walkin Wheels
Adjustable Cart
Competitor 1
Competitor 2
Competitor 3
Adjustable
Height, Width, and Length Adjust without tools.
Some Height Adjustment Possible – Tools required
NO
NO
Measurements required to order
1 approximate height measurement needed
8 measurements required
7 measurements required
10 measurements
Time Required to Build
Shipped Same Day
3 – 4 working days
2 weeks
3 days
Non-refundable Deposit
None
30% – 50%
Refund Policy
Up to 95%
85% Less Shipping
None – All Sales Final
70% Less Shipping
If Cart Does Not Fit
Completely adjustable without tools. Adjust it yourself, call if you need help.
Call for Support.
“…we reserve the right to charge time and materials…”
Call for Support
Patented
YES – U.S. and International Patents
No
No
No
Harness Type
Flexible
Flexible
Welded Saddle
Flexible
Lifting Required
No Lifting Required
“…lift the rear of your pet and slip its legs down through the leg ring supports…”
Yes
Some Lifting
Folds Flat for Storage
Yes
No
No
No
Price (Medium Cart + Shipping)
$399 – $459
$390-$590
$395 – $550 + Shipping
$365 – $535
Some Assembly Required?
None Needed
Some Assembly Required
Shipped Assembled
Shipped Assembled
Indoor Use
Yes
Not Recommended
Can be Resold to any size animal
Yes
No
No
No
Belly Support Strap
Included – No Extra Charge
Add $25.00
Extra Charge
Stirrups
Included – No Extra Charge
Add $45.00
Add $12.00 to $20.00
Available in Stores
YES
No
No
No
For sale by veterinarians
YES
No
No
no
Article written by Handicapped Pets.com

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