Helping Your Puppy Heal: Using a Dog Wheelchair for a Knee Injury

CL tears and cross injuries are common injuries in dogs. In fact, ACL tears occur more often in dogs than in humans! According to National Library of Medicine, out of 100,000 dogs, approximately 2,610 will suffer an ACL tear each year, compared to fewer than 75 humans in the same size group. In 73% of these cases, the dog will rupture both knees. Depending on the severity of the tear, a dog may have difficulty walking or be unable to bear weight on its injured leg. Not only are canine knee injuries common, but they can also have serious consequences on a dog’s ability to remain active. A dog wheelchair can be used to prevent and rehabilitate knee injuries in dogs.

Read on to learn more about canine cross injuries and how a wheelchair can help your dog stay active.

Large dog outside in his pink corset for ivdd, Walkin' vertebraVe
spinal back support
corgi wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
German Shepherd Combo Harness for Leg Support
Walkin’ combined harness

Understanding Knee Injuries in Dogs

Knee injuries are among the most common canine orthopedic injuries. Unlike human knee injuries which are usually caused by physical activity or trauma, knee injuries in dogs usually occur slowly over time. Most cross tears in dogs result from natural wear and tear rather than a specific injury or event. It is important to monitor your dog’s physical activity and provide appropriate care to prevent or manage this problem.

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Knee Injuries

There are many physical signs to look for when a dog has an injured knee, including:

  • Lift the back leg off the ground
  • Refusing to walk or support weight on hind leg
  • Limping or putting only partial weight on their back leg
  • Joint stiffness
  • Sitting awkwardly – ​​may have one leg to the side or sit with legs spread
  • Moans or is uncomfortable when lying down
  • Swelling – this may be around the knee joint or even up to the ankle

Dogs showing signs of pain or changes in the way they move should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. Only a veterinary professional can diagnose and treat your dog.

What happens to the joint when a dog tears its ACL?

A large dog runs in a Walkin' Wheels dog wheelchair

When a dog tears their ACL, it can make the joint unstable. Putting weight on the limb can create a shearing force on the joint, causing the femur to slide backward on the surface of the tibial plateau. This can be painful for your dog and potentially damage the cartilage in the joint. The abnormal movement can cause excessive wear of the cartilage surface, leading to arthritic changes in the joint.

Canine cross injuries usually begin as a partial tear that gradually worsens until it becomes a complete tear. In most cases, surgery is recommended to repair the tear. During the waiting period before surgery or during recovery, dogs tend to shift their weight to their good leg, which can strain their other knee. It is important to seek help from a veterinarian to properly diagnose the severity of your dog’s knee injury and provide the necessary treatment.

Can my dog ​​use a wheelchair before knee surgery?

Using a cart may be beneficial for dogs awaiting knee surgery. Although most dogs will need knee surgery within about a week, the period between the initial tear and corrective surgery is an important time. If a knee injury occurs, the dog will limp on three legs, which can cause discomfort. Using a wheelchair will provide balanced support, allowing the dog to stand naturally without altering its spine and will avoid unnecessary joint strain. Since the wheelchair makes it easier for your dog to move and walk, he is less likely to suffer from muscle atrophy or cause further damage to his knees and other joints.

The Role of a Dog Wheelchair in Healing a Knee Injury

When a dog is injured, a wheelchair can be a helpful aid in its healing process. The cart acts as a crutch to reduce the weight placed on the injured joint and provides support, allowing your dog to walk without causing further damage. Wheelchair support will allow increased mobility, support weight bearing, prevent further damage to the affected knee, and reduce the risk of injury to the healthy knee.

Here are some ways dogs can use and benefit from a cart after knee surgery:

Going out after surgery

Although crate rest is necessary after surgery, you will still need to get your dog up and out throughout the day. It is important that when your dog is standing, he does not put unnecessary pressure on the suture line or put too much pressure on his other knee. A wheelchair can help limit the risk and prevent this from happening. By distributing the dog’s weight evenly across its body and supporting both legs, the cart helps your dog stand properly. Without the support of a wheelchair, the dog will place all of its weight on the uninjured leg, which can cause injury and additional strain.

Support the rehabilitation process

A dog in a wheelchair stands during laser therapy

After a period of two to four weeks of cage rest following surgery, dogs will usually have their sutures removed and can begin the rehabilitation process. It is essential to work the dog’s paw, knee and muscles as they play a crucial role in his recovery. When a dog’s paw goes unused, it can lead to muscle atrophy and loss of strength. A dog wheelchair can ease the rehabilitation process for dogs with knee injuries, both when working with their therapist and at home between sessions.

During rehabilitation sessions, a wheelchair can be used for support during underwater treadmill exercises or to help a dog stay upright during massage therapy or stretching. During a rehabilitation session, the trainer will also teach the pet owner how to do similar exercises at home. Many of these will be needed several times throughout the day. These exercises are extremely important to help prevent muscle cramps, restore circulation, and promote healing and recovery.

The wheelchair is just one tool available to support your dog’s recovery process. During your dog’s recovery, it is also essential to have regular veterinary check-ups to monitor progress and to follow the instructions of your veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist to ensure proper healing.

Using the trolley as an alternative to surgery

Not all dogs will be candidates for corrective surgery. Dogs deemed at risk due to their age, general health, or even because their knee is too depressed for corrective surgery may need to resort to alternative methods. Without proper support, it is highly likely that a dog will have difficulty moving or even tear up its other cross. In these cases, a dog wheelchair can be used for continued mobility.

Not only will the wheelchair encourage your dog to continue using his back legs, but it will also prevent him from straining his back or overcompensating for the remaining healthy leg. More than 50% of dogs will tear their other cross within a year of their first ACL tear. A cart will provide balanced support to prevent your dog from straining their other leg and to prevent injury. Even without surgery, your veterinarian should stay informed of your dog’s progress. Check in regularly to ensure your dog is following protocol and staying as healthy as possible.


Dogs with knee injuries can significantly improve their mobility by using a wheelchair throughout their recovery process. Just like a human would use a crutch or walker, a dog wheelchair is a great way to reduce pressure on a dog’s injured knee while still providing the stability and support needed to continue walking. Staying active reduces your dog’s risk of muscle atrophy and helps prevent further knee injuries. Give your four-legged friend the best possible care and mobility during their healing process with an adjustable dog wheelchair.


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