Unfortunately, some dogs experience health problems that leave them without the full use of their legs.
Although this is a heartbreaking reality for many owners, there are products that can help disabled dogs get around.
Lift harness aids, for example, can help you carry your pup around the house or get up and down the stairs. But while lift aids are helpful, they’re primarily intended for dogs who can still walk with a bit of assistance. They won’t allow your pet to explore or move around on his own.
For pups who need more than a little help, you will need a wheelchair.
Quick Picks: Best Dog Wheelchairs for Your Pup
See our top picks here, or keep reading for full reviews and more details!
How Do Dog Wheelchairs Work?
Dog wheelchairs are essentially a pair of wheels (or sometimes two pairs of wheels) that are attached to a special frame and harness.
The wheels take the place of your dog’s legs and allow him to scoot around. This can help your dog regain his mobility, enjoy a bit of independence, and restore his dignity. They can also help stave off depression and ensure your mobility-impaired pet still gets some exercise.
But as with any other product, wheelchairs vary in quality pretty significantly. You don’t want to set your dog up with a substandard wheelchair that doesn’t work well or fits him comfortably.
We’ll try to help in this regard below, as we review four of the best dog wheelchairs on the market.
We’ll also talk about some of the things you’ll want to consider when picking a dog wheelchair and explain the best way to measure your dog and ensure you order the correct size.
But first, we’ll discuss some of the reasons that dogs need a wheelchair in the first place.
And don’t worry – although your dog may be in a tough spot right now, a wheelchair will likely restore his quality of life.
Just look how happy wheelchairs make the dog below (honestly, this topic can be a bit of a bummer, so I figured everyone could use a bit of eye bleach before we get into the heavy stuff).
Does My Dog Need a Wheelchair?
The list of reasons why a dog may need a wheelchair is depressingly long. Nevertheless, some of the most common include:
- Traumatic injuries
- Hip dysplasia
- Peripheral nerve damage
- Broken bones
- Severe muscle injuries
- Spinal injuries
- Tendon injury
- Ligament injury
- Dislocated joints
- Degenerative myelopathy
Essentially, any disease, injury, or condition that limits your dog’s leg movement, compromises the function of his spine, or causes your dog pain when he walks may warrant the use of a wheelchair.
If you aren’t sure whether a wheelchair would be a good option for your dog, discuss the issue with your vet.
Things to Consider When Shopping for a Dog Wheelchair
Wheelchairs utilize a wide variety of design concepts and materials, so there are a few things you’ll need to think about when trying to narrow down your options. Some of the most important considerations are explained below.
Does your dog need support for his front or back legs?
Dogs can suffer from problems that affect their front legs, back legs, or both, and you’ll obviously need to purchase a wheelchair designed to help in the way your dog needs.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of dog wheelchairs on the market are designed for dogs with rear leg problems.
This means that owners of dogs who have rear-leg difficulties have a number of different options, but those who need a wheelchair that provides front-end support don’t have as many products to consider.
We found two wheelchairs that provide full-body support and may be helpful for dogs who have front leg problems, but given that there aren’t very many customer reviews for either, we hesitate to recommend them.
Nevertheless, owners who need a wheelchair that provides front-leg (or whole body) support may want to consider the Quad 4 Wheelchair by Best Friend Mobility or the Newlife Mobility Quaz Four Wheel Wheelchair.
Where will your dog use the wheelchair?
You’ll need to consider the places your dog will use his wheelchair when picking the best one for his needs.
Specifically, you’ll need to check out the wheels that are included with various models to ensure your dog can get around the way you want him to.
Some dogs only need a wheelchair to roll around the house – the only time they’ll venture outdoors is at bathroom time. On the other hand, some owners will want their dog to be able to scoot around at the park or go for walks around the neighborhood with their chair.
Those who just need a canine wheelchair for around the house can get away with a wheelchair that features small, hard wheels, as they won’t be doing very much off-roading.
But owners looking for a more outdoor-friendly doggy wheelchair will want something that is equipped with rather large, air- or foam-filled wheels that can handle the uneven terrain they’re likely to encounter.
How long do you need the wheelchair to last?
If your dog is only suffering from a temporary issue (such as a torn leg tendon or a broken leg), he won’t need the wheelchair for very long.
Similarly – and this is a bit dark, but it bears mentioning – elderly senior dogs who are near the end of their life may not need a wheelchair for very long either.
These dogs won’t need a wheelchair that is as durable or rugged as dogs who are likely to need a wheelchair for many years to come. For example, if you have a 2- or 3-year-old pup that suffers a permanent spinal injury, you want a wheelchair that’ll last a decade or so.
So, be sure to consider the length of time your dog will need the wheelchair when making your decision. You may be able to save a bit of money if your dog won’t need it very long.
Conversely, if your dog will need a wheelchair well into the future, you’ll likely save money in the long run by spending a little more up front.
Dog Wheelchair Quality Checklist
In addition to the considerations discussed above, you’ll also need to make sure that any wheelchair you select satisfies a few basic criteria.
While a wheelchair that fails to satisfy one or two of the following requirements may still be worth considering, you’ll want to avoid any that are missing several.
Dog wheelchairs should be as light as possible while still being sufficiently sturdy and durable.
The harness materials used in the wheelchair should be easy to remove and, whenever possible, machine washable.
The chair should support your dog in a comfortable manner, and all contact points should be soft or padded in some way.
The wheelchair must be easy to adjust so that it’ll fit your dog well.
The chair’s center of gravity should be as low as possible to reduce the chances that it’ll tip over.
The chair should be straightforward to assemble and disassemble so that it is easy to throw in the car and take with you.
The wheelchair should support your dog in a way that still allows him to relieve himself comfortably.
How Much Do Dog Wheelchairs Cost?
Dog wheelchairs aren’t exactly cheap, but they certainly aren’t as expensive as human wheelchairs.
The prices vary a good bit too, based on things like construction materials, design, and size. Some also come with more bells and whistles than others, which also increases the price.
Ultimately, you can expect to spend between about $100 and $500 for your dog’s wheelchair.
This is more than a lot of dog owners have laying around, but the value it’ll provide your dog is immeasurable. So, it is worth doing whatever you have to do to scrape together the necessary funding.
However, if you simply cannot free up enough money to buy a commercially produced wheelchair, you may be able to make a dog wheelchair of your own instead.
Doing so isn’t always easy, but it is a viable option for those with tight budgets.
Best Dog Wheelchairs for Your Pup: Our Top Picks
There are a number of wheelchairs and similar devices designed for dogs, but the four detailed below are your best options. Just remember to consider your dog’s specific needs when making your choice.
1. Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
About: The Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair is a veterinarian-approved mobility aid designed to support your dog comfortably while restoring his mobility.
- CREATES A HAPPY, HEALTHY LIFE FOR PETS & PET PARENTS! - The Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair gives...
- KEEPS YOUR DOG MOBILE & COMFORTABLE - Nothing makes our pets, with limited to no mobility in their...
- EASY TO STORE, TRANSPORT, AND CLEAN - Our Medium to Large size dog wheelchairs fold flat making it...
- PATENTED ADJUSTABLE DESIGN FOR THE PERFECT FIT - Walkin’ Wheels’ rear support dog wheelchairs...
This chair is primarily designed for large dogs with legs between 14 and 30 inches long.
Features: The Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair is made from an aluminum frame that provides a nice combination of durability and strength, while still keeping the total weight of the chair pretty low.
This not only makes it easier for you to carry the chair around, it’ll make it easier for your dog to pull and control.
The Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair features large, rubber-treaded wheels, which will handle most types of terrain with ease. Additionally, the wheels are filled with foam, rather than air, which means that they won’t puncture or flatten during use.
To ensure a good fit for your dog, the Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair is available in five different sizes (although they are all on the large end of the spectrum), and its height, length, and width are all adjustable.
PROS: The owner reviews for the Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair were overwhelmingly positive. Most owners were very pleased with the way the chair supported their dog and found it easy to adjust to obtain a snug and comfortable fit. Dogs, for their part, seemed to find the Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair easy to use.
Additionally, a few owners confirmed that this wheelchair allowed their dog to go to the bathroom normally while strapped in.
CONS: While most owners were very pleased with the Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair, a few owners reported that some of the plastic parts used in the design failed to support their dog. Nevertheless, these types of complaints were rare and probably represent production anomalies.
Also, a few owners noted that the axle bolts are exposed and so may scratch walls or furniture. However, you could probably slap some kind of rubber cap or improvised cover on the bolts to sidestep this issue.
NOTE: Walkin’ Wheels also makes similar (but slightly different) wheelchairs for smaller pups, ranging from about 11 to 25 pounds. These chairs are just as well made as Walkin’ Wheels’ larger wheelchairs, and they received great reviews from owners too.
2. K9 Carts Rear Support Wheelchair
About: The K9 Carts Rear Support Wheelchair is a premium wheelchair that has been designed, manufactured, and tested for over 53 years by an orthopedic veterinary hospital.
- VETERINARIAN DESIGNED, built, and tested for over 53 years in our Orthopedic Veterinary Hospital.
- MADE IN THE USA just for you pet. Handmade with care. Normally ships same day.
- LIGHTEST WHEELCHAIR on the market!. Built from aircraft grade aluminum for years of rugged use.
- BACKED BY PROS! Every purchase is backed by our experienced medical staff to ensure the best...
When you purchase the K9 Carts Wheelchair, you not only obtain a high-quality mobility aid for your dog, you’ll enjoy the superior customer service provided by K9 Cart’s medical staff.
Features: According to the manufacturer, the K9 Carts Wheelchair is the lightest dog wheelchair on the market.
Because it is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, its light weight doesn’t come at the expense of strength or durability. In fact, this wheelchair should withstand years of regular use.
Unlike some other canine wheelchairs, the K9 Carts Wheelchair is manufactured in the USA – a big bonus for some owners.
The K9 Carts Wheelchair can actually be used in two ways. It can be set up to provide additional support for dogs who have some rear-leg mobility, or it can be adjusted to suit dogs who need complete rear-leg support.
Dense foam padding is included in several places to help prevent abrasions, injuries, or furniture damage.
The K9 Carts Wheelchair is available in four sizes, so you should be able to find one that fits any dog between 5 and 99 pounds. The K9 Carts Wheelchair is available in two color options: White and Pink.
PROS: The K9 Carts Wheelchair received some of the best reviews for any product we’ve ever reviewed. Most owners found that it fit well, supported their dog properly, and was easy for their dog to use. Most owners reported that their pet was able to enjoy a very high quality of life after using the chair, and several used phrases like “lifesaver” to describe it.
CONS: Negative reviews of the K9 Carts Wheelchair were very rare. In fact, most owners who provided a “negative” review were happy with the product; their dog just didn’t seem to like using it. Ultimately, the biggest drawback to this mobility aid is the price, as it is pretty expensive. However, it is hard to put a price on your dog’s happiness.
3. Best Friend Mobility Dog Wheelchair
About: The Best Friend Mobility Dog Wheelchair is a US-made, fabric-free canine wheelchair designed to fit your dog comfortably and be easy for you to assemble, adjust, and use.
- Lightweigh Aluminum Non-Corrosive Frame
- Easy to adjust height, length, and width with a hex wrench
- All terrain polyurethane wheels with sealed bearings
- Easy clip on function of the front harness system
Like many of the other high-quality dog wheelchairs reviewed here, the Best Friend Wheelchair was designed and tested by a vet – in this case, a K9 orthopedic surgeon.
Features: The Best Friend Mobility Dog Wheelchair is made from premium materials and features a number of helpful design concepts to support your dog in the best way possible.
The aluminum frame is rust-proof, as is the stainless-steel hardware used to keep the chair together. The front and rear harnesses are made from neoprene, which will keep your dog comfortable and prevent abrasions and pressure wounds.
The polyurethane wheels are rigid, so they won’t deflate, and they will work on all terrains according to the manufacturer. The wheels feature sealed bearings to prevent dirt and debris from gumming up the works.
You can adjust the chair’s height, length, and width with nothing more than a hex wrench.
This cart will allow your dog to use his rear legs if he can, although it can also provide total rear leg support, ensuring that your dog’s rear legs won’t need to support any weight at all.
It’s available in five different sizes which are designed to accommodate dogs with leg lengths ranging from 8 to 29 inches.
PROS: Many owners were very happy with the Best Friend Mobility Dog Wheelchair and reported that their dog seemed to feel completely comfortable and confident while using it. Adjustments appear very easy to make, and the majority of owners found that achieving a good fit was pretty straightforward.
CONS: A few owners noted that the Best Friend Mobility Wheelchair was very difficult to assemble, so if you aren’t particularly handy, you may want to think carefully before selecting this model. A few other owners noted that while it seemed well-designed and well-built, it was difficult to achieve a good fit for their dog.
4. Newlife Mobility Adjustable Dog Wheelchair
About: The Newlife Mobility Adjustable Dog Wheelchair is an effective mobility aid based on a relatively simple, utilitarian design and made from high-quality materials.
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The Newlife Mobility Wheelchair is also designed to be highly adjustable so that it is easy to customize the fit to suit your dog’s body.
Features: Unfortunately, Newlife Mobility doesn’t provide a great deal of information about their dog-friendly wheelchair. Normally, we’d consider this a bit of a red flag, but it did seem to work relatively well for most owners who tried it, so it is probably worth consideration – particularly given its relatively low price point.
The frame is made from metal (probably aluminum, but it isn’t clear), while the support sling is made from very soft, breathable mesh to keep your dog’s skin cool and comfortable.
The sling is also supported by three different straps, which should help your dog feel confident while strapped into the chair.
The Newlife Mobility Adjustable Wheelchair is available in seven different sizes which will accommodate dogs between 2 and 110 pounds.
PROS: Most owners who tried the Newlife Mobility Wheelchair were satisfied with their purchase. Most reported that their dog was comfortable using the aid and that it was relatively easy to achieve a good fit, thanks to the adjustable nature of the chair. And while we certainly wouldn’t consider it cheap, it is one of the more affordable options on the market.
CONS: Several owners complained that the Newlife Mobility Wheelchair was difficult to assemble, and a few reported that the bolts loosened very quickly. In fact, the manufacturer even reports that you’ll need to tighten them down regularly, which is a bit concerning. Some owners also had trouble getting their dog into the chair, but others reported that it was easy to do so.
How Do You Measure a Dog For a Wheelchair?
Different wheelchairs require different body measurements to ensure a good fit, so always be sure to review the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines carefully.
However, the majority of wheelchairs will require that you obtain one or more of the following measurements:
- Your dog’s height at the shoulder
- Your dog’s height at the rear hips
- Your dog’s body length
- The distance from the floor to the fold of his flank (the place where his rear legs meet his belly area)
- The width of your dog’s hips
- The width of your dog’s shoulders
Because your dog will likely have trouble standing (that’s part of the reason you’re looking for a wheelchair in the first place), you’ll either need to measure him while he’s lying on his side or solicit the help of a friend, who can support your dog in a standing position while you measure him.
Be sure to use a flexible tape measure rather than a ruler so that you obtain accurate measurements. If you don’t have a tape measure handy, just use a string to mark the necessary lengths and then measure the string with a ruler.
It’s also a good idea to obtain an accurate weight for your dog to ensure that he won’t exceed the stated capacity for the chair.
No pet parent wants the family four-footer to end up in a wheelchair, but sometimes tragedy strikes and there’s no reasonable alternative.
Despite the difficulty of seeing your four-legged pal struggle to get around, if you pick a good wheelchair for your dog, your pet will enjoy a much better quality of life and still be able to scoot around and play with you or his buddies!
Have you ever purchased a dog wheelchair for your furry pal? How did it work out? Why did your dog need a wheelchair to begin with? Tell us in the comments!