Typical Problems with a Dog Wheelchair

By nakedbarra | February 14, 2012

From time to time we have a dog that is a bit stubborn or skittish and has a little trouble adapting to the cart, we have covered some of those problems in our article below, as well as some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand some of the things that come up from time to time with new cart owners and their dogs.

Dog will not move the cart.
Most of the problems a new dog wheelchair will encounter involve the fit of the cart, and the temperament of the animal. On the one hand, we’ve seen dogs who the moment they’re put in a dog wheelchair, are off and running; even if they haven’t walked in months. In the best case it’s like a light turns on and they’re free. On the other hand, though, some dogs will completely reject the idea of the cart at first; frightened of the apparatus and confused at how to work it.

First, be sure the cart is a good fit. Because it is nearly impossible to measure a dog accurately, the cart may require some adjustment. If you have a custom made cart, this may require sending it back to the factory. If it’s an adjustable cart, adjustments can be made on the spot. See the section of this article on fitting. If the dog had hot spots or sores, make sure they are not being aggravated.

Second, be sure the dog is comfortable. Check the harnesses, seat, and any clips. Be sure the dogs genitals are not in an uncomfortable position, that no straps are digging into the animal, or nothing is pinching him. Adjust if necessary. Neoprene, the material that some harnesses are made of, can be safely cut without fear of edges fraying.

Third, be patient. Coax gently. Use treats. Sometimes, all the dog has to do is figure out that he or she can move.

Often, a dog will move backwards in the cart. This is normal. Four-legged animals learn to use different legs for braking, propulsion, stability, and direction. When in a cart, all of these functions are controlled by the front legs alone. If the common stance of a dog involves putting his front paws forward then he us counting on his back legs to keep him from moving backwards. When his back legs are replaced by wheels, he’ll roll back. Also, a dog in a wheelchair will move backwards when he tries to sit down.

Keep control of the dog while he moves for the first time. Do not him run loose. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The noise of the cart could frighten him, causing him to run faster. As the noise follows him, it could panic the dog.
  2. The dog is does not know how to use the cart. If he goes to close to a building or a wall the wheel could catch and get stuck or force him to turn.
  3. The dog needs to be kept away from stairs.
  4. In some cases, the dog could run adapt immediately to his new wheels and run away.

Elimination in a Dog Cart

Dogs, like horses, pee and poop standing up. This should be no problem in a wheelchair. If he does have a problem, it could be that the harnesses are constricting him. Watch to make sure that he can do his business in the wheelchair. If he cannot, then adjust as needed. If the dog us unable to go due to nerve damage or disease, you will need to express your dog. See your veterinarian to learn how to express your animal (it’s REALLY easy once you know how). If an animal’s bladder is not completely emptied several times a day, serious complications can result.

How to Tell if the Dog Cart is Adjusted Properly

When the cart is adjusted properly, the animal stands in a ‘natural’ position. Basically, the dog wheelchair should relate to the dogs skeleton with the siderails supporting

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him like a spine and the wheels supporting him like legs. Here’s what to check. Refer to the figure below.

A – Knuckle at the hips. The knuckle – or the place where the legs join the frame of the dog cart, should be at the dogs hips. If you were to draw an imaginary line from one knuckle to the other, the line would pass right through the dog’s hips… where the bone of the leg meets the bones of the body. If not, tighten harness and/or adjust length.

B – Front Support loop at the shoulder. There is naturally some downward pressure at the front of the cart. This is the normal pressure of standing. It is important that this weight be directly on the top of the front leg… where it is meant to be. The loop on the front harness that the bar goes through should be at the shoulder. Adjust the straps so that the loop is held firmly against the shoulder.

C – The dogs back needs to be straight or arched UP (slight hunch). In this photo the dog’s back is arched down a little. This is NOT correct and this dog needs the Belly Strap.

D – The back legs need to be just touching, or just off the ground, depending on the health of the back legs. If the dogs wants to use his back legs, then allow his feet to touch lightly. This is often adjusted by tightening the straps that hold the harness to the frame – this brings the dog’s seat up. (Take the dog out of the harness before adjusting.) If the height of the harness cannot be changed, then lengthen the leg struts. Consider boots if the feet drag. Use the stirrups if the dog cannot use his back legs or the feet are dragging on the ground.

E – The horizontal bar needs to be level with the ground. If the cart itself cannot be adjusted, the harnesses can often be adjusted so that the horizontal bar is level with the ground – or even with the dog’s spine.

Original Post by Handicapped pets.com

One comment on “Typical Problems with a Dog Wheelchair

  1. Reply Vanessa May 13,2016 1:59 pm

    I have this wheelchair for my senior pug and I am having difficulty with it being really heavy on his shoulders. Is there a way of taking done pressure off of him?

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