An Overview of Dog Mobility Aids

Mobility aids for a dog with temporary or permanent injuries can offer support, ease pain and, in some cases, delay the damage caused by some degenerative diseases. Large breeds such as German Shepherds, Labradors and Saint Bernards, are especially susceptible to hip dysplasia, arthritis and other conditions that may warrant a mobility aid.

Canine Wheelchairs

Often referred to as a "cart," the canine wheelchair supports the dog's pelvis taking stress off the hind legs. Some models will allow the legs to touch the ground and others have supportive slings to hold the legs in a non-walking position. The carts have been used for dogs of all sizes and should be properly balanced for optimal movement and safety. A cart may prevent further damage and allow the dog to move more easily through the house or yard. Many dogs will show not only increased activity but also an improvement in their temperament. Canine wheelchairs can give dogs a new found freedom and improve their quality of life.

Fittings can be done in person if you live near a manufacturer or you can order the carts from their web site or by mail. Make sure all measurements are correct to avoid discomfort or needing to return the item. A wheelchair may need some getting used to, however proper size and assembly will increase the likelihood of success and minimize the risk of further damage.

Support Harnesses and Slings

Support harnesses are available for both front and rear support. The harness can help dogs recover from an injury or relive some of the stress caused by muscular or skeletal problems. Harnesses require a person who can lift a portions of the dog's weight. Slings are similar to the support harness but are typically placed around the mid section to lessen the amount of weight placed on all of the dog's limbs. Slings can prevent injuries to dogs with overall leg weakness and like the support harness, the sling requires a person to operate it.

Not All Dogs Will Benefit

A mobility aid can best provide assistance to active dogs that have enough strength in their front legs to pull themselves along. It is unlikely that extremely ill dogs or those with completely immobile front paws will benefit from these kinds of devices. Some canine wheelchairs come with four wheels but some forelimb strength is required. The purchase of a mobility aid should not be the only action taken to help ease the burden of a handicap. Make sure to discuss all options and treatments with your veterinarian before you purchase any kind of supportive device.