Wheelchair features for an IVDD dog
Caution! Wheelchairs should not be used until crate rest for the Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) episode has been completed and upon advice of your vet:
- 4-6 weeks for surgical cases
- 8 weeks for conservative treatment with drugs and STRICT rest confinement
Two important design points for IVDD dogs using a wheelchair
- Avoid unwanted stresses on the spine which may lead to further disc problems in IVDD dogs. There should be practically NO yoke pressure on the shoulder area. The shoulder area is supported by the legs and if there is to be any light pressure that is where it should be, not on the weaker back.
- Keep the back aligned. The back should be straight and in a natural position for the body, i.e. the rear is not higher than the front. A well-designed wheelchair will keep the body aligned and not increase pressure points on the back or neck.
Well-designed wheelchairs appropriate for an IVDD dog come in a wide range of prices.
Dodgerslist does not advocate a particular manufacturer. The two photos below are for educational purposes to show correct positioning of the yoke over the shoulder area.
Additional wheelchair features to look for:
- Easy to get in and out of. Yoke or harness opens completely making putting dog in cart fast and hassle free. Yoke locks and opens quickly.
- Comfortable seating. Cart design needs take into consideration where the dog’s weight is supported to avoid skin breakdown or friction sores. The dog’s weight needs to be supported in a well-designed and padded manner.
- Small footprint. Doesn’t have parts sticking above, on the side or out in back. Easier to use in the house around furniture and not get caught in outdoor branches, etc.
- Most amount of support and least amount of side to side swaying as dog runs.
- Minimal adjustments required. Will take a good number of measurements to get custom fit for your dog. There is no one size fits all in a good cart. A cart should have many areas to adjust in case a minor tweaking is needed once you receive the cart at home. Email a photo back to the manufacturer for comment on the fit for your dog.
- Maintenance should be none or minimal. Aluminum is strong and lightweight, does not rust, but pricier. PVC is sturdy, light weight, maintenance free and cost effective.
- Needs to be lightweight and properly balanced so the dog does not have to strain pulling a heavy cart.
- Tires which do not require inflation, less maintenance. Larger, thicker tires roll better over rougher terrain and through snow. All carts have the potential to tip over, angled tires can help with stability.
- Nothing to impede normal range of leg motion. If your dog begins to walk, he needs to put his feet down. There should be no hindrance to natural leg movement while still being supported, making it a rehab tool if/when needed
Do your homework before you buy. Ask users of carts what they like/don’t like about their cart, what experience they had in communications with the manufacturer, warranty, how satisfactorily any problems were attended to.
A cart is used every day and several times a day. Dogs will use a cart for a couple of hours at a time, not all day long.
Dogs must always be supervised when in a cart. All carts can tip over.
Additional wheelchair resources:
Training a dog to use a wheelchair: http://eddieswheels.com/n/27/Training-a-dog-to-use-a-wheelchair
Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioners (CCRPs), Cathy Symons CVT, CCRP, and Chris Cranston MPT, CCRP discuss giving your dog a new lease on life! Features to look for in a cart in this podcast: Mobility Carts – That’s How We Roll APRIL 21, 2020 http://petabilitypodcast.buzzsprout.com/820990/3358021-mobility-carts-that-s-how-we-roll
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