On Christmas day 2006, my husband and I were driving our 6 year old Siberian Husky, Sam, to the emergency vet. Minutes earlier, Sam was being his usual playful self in our backyard, reared up on his back legs, twisted, then fell to the ground with a scream, having ruptured a disc in his back.
Sam was lucky. After emergency treatment, then spine surgery, he regained the use of his legs, and even though he's not 100%, has full mobility. During his injury and recovery, we blogged our experience, hoping that our lessons learned and experience would help others going through such a traumatic time. We fully expect that as he gets older, we'll most likely see his mobility diminish, and a need for a method to allow him mobility. To us, the solution is easy: we'll get him a cart.
I was actually surprised that a lot more dog owners didn't know about the use of carts for dogs with mobility issues. I often get owners who are very distraught when their dog may be facing amputation, or has suffered from a spinal injury, or has a neurological condition that keeps them from being mobile. Paralysis is not the death sentence it use to be for dogs. The use of carts (doggie wheelchairs) has proven that although a dog may not have the use of their hind (or even front) limbs, their spirit still wants to run and play.
You can teach an old dog new tricks, and typically a dog will just adapt to their situation and do some surprising things. There are so many examples of dogs that have adapted, but Faith, the two-legged dog usually comes to mind. Faith proves that will figure out a way to do what they want if they really want to. Even if Faith's rear legs eventually give out, there are front leg carts that will allow her to continue going where she needs to go.
Dogs facing amputation to save their lives from bone cancer can live full and happy lives in a cart. Even if their remaining rear leg isn't strong enough to support them, carts are made for all types of disability and some manufacturers will work with the dog to ensure the right cart is made to fit that disability.
A recent Wall Street Journal article discusses dog carts, and even highlights carts for cats, and even a chicken. There are different types of carts, depending on who makes them, for different types of disabilities, including a full body cart for dogs who have absolutely no mobility. Some people may think that cruel, but if a dog is of sound mind and spirit, is in no pain, and the only thing missing is a set of legs that allows them fun time with the family, seems only fair to give them a way to be a part of the family outside of the house.
While more expensive than... euthanasia, which use to be the only alternative for pet owners who couldn't or wouldn't assist their handicapped dog, a cart is built to last the rough and tumble new life of the dog, and some are even built so that the owner can modify it while a young dog grows. Some cart manufacturers will either buy back the cart (for less than the purchase price) or accept used donated carts to sell (at a much cheaper price) to other owners in need if no longer needed by the original purchaser.
As you can see here, Popeye gets around just fine on his wheels:
Don't know which cart is right for your dog? Dogs With Disabilities have created a nice comparison chart.
The following is a list of popular dog cart (wheelchair) makers.
Walk N Wheels