How to Use a Dog Wheelchair for Rehabilitation and Recovery

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Helping an injured dog get back on their feet is an essential part of the healing process. A dog wheelchair can play a vital role in a dog’s rehabilitation. A cart allows the dog to stand instead of lying down and can also improve recovery times. Adding a five to ten minute cart ride to a dog’s treatment plan several times a day will help the dog physically and lift his spirits.

Many dogs in wheelchairs use them due to old age, weakness or paralysis and are destined to use them for the rest of their lives. Others may only need to use the wheelchair for a few months or even weeks. Many veterinarians and rehabilitation centers will encourage the use of a wheelchair for pets recovering from surgery or injury.

Many dogs with ACL or knee injuries will use a dog wheelchair while they heal. A wheelchair makes the process easier for both the dog and his family. In this article, I will discuss common illnesses and injuries they can help with, as well as why a wheelchair is beneficial for dog rehabilitation.

Using a Dog Wheelchair for Hind Leg Rehabilitation

Dog wheelchair for rehabilitation therapy

Although there are many different reasons why a dog may need a wheelchair, the most common causes are injury, paralysis, recovering from surgery, or illness. While not all of these can be reversed, a set of dog wheels can help them all and, in some scenarios, even aid in rehabilitation after an injury, surgery, or in some cases, paralysis from a neurological disease or congenital abnormality.

A dog wheelchair is an important rehabilitation tool for dogs suffering from hind leg injuries or recovering from injury. Here are some of the most common cases in which a dog might use a wheelchair to aid in rehabilitation.

Dog wheelchair and therapy: how does it work?

Dog in wheelchair welcomed by his veterinarian

A dog wheelchair is considered a mobility aid. The primary function of a wheelchair is to make it easier for the dog to walk. A dog may need a wheelchair due to an injury, weak hind legs, or a medical problem affecting their ability to walk (such as diabetes or IVDD). The use of wheelchairs is not limited to paralyzed animals. A wheelchair can be incredibly beneficial for dogs with knee injuries, during post-surgical recovery, and for those with joint pain.

The two styles of wheelchairs most commonly used in therapy include:

  • Rear wheelchair to support an animal’s rear legs
  • Full support wheelchair provides support to all four limbs

The cart encourages walking by reducing the weight the pet places on its weak legs. Additionally, the rear wheelchair support system supports under the pet’s pelvis with the cart wheels aligned with the dog’s hips, allowing him to use his rear legs without straining. When used correctly, a wheelchair helps the dog rebuild its leg muscles and regain strength through continued exercise.

Dogs using a quad cart will receive the same support in the rear while also helping the front legs. The front leg support sits directly under the dog’s chest, with the front wheels aligned with the shoulders. By supporting the front and rear legs simultaneously, the dog receives balanced support that should make it easier to stand and walk. Additionally, a 4-wheel cart will allow more movement and encourage weight bearing earlier in the animal’s recovery. Full support wheelchairs are especially beneficial for dogs recovering from an injury or surgery.

French bulldog wheelchair in rehab
Quad dog wheelchair for full body support

The benefits of using a wheelchair during rehabilitation

Paralyzed dog uses wheelchair during aquatic therapy

For dogs in physiotherapy, the wheelchair assists them during their training, helping them to stand and supporting them when moving. The goal of many animals undergoing rehab is to strengthen their paws and build the dog’s endurance. A dog cart can help pets achieve both of these goals.

When a dog first starts out in his cart, expect him to tire quickly, remember he hasn’t walked in a while. Although it will take time for the dog to regain his strength, we recommend starting with short walks that slowly increase over time. For example, most dogs start by spending six to ten minutes in the cart on their first wheelchair ride. Then, as a general rule, allow at least two hours between walks. This gives your pet the time it needs to rest and recover.

The physical benefits of using a dog wheelchair during rehabilitation include:

  • Increased stamina
  • Rebuild muscle strength
  • Improved balance and support
  • Minimize muscle loss
  • Find independence
  • Encourage exercise
  • Get the dog back up and mobile sooner
  • Allows weight bearing on injured or weak legs
  • Makes it easier for the dog to go out to go to the toilet

Neurological Conditions and Recovery After Stroke

Dog mobility cart to exercise and keep disabled dogs active

Although the recovery process is different depending on many external factors, the Walkin’ Rear and Quad wheelchairs have been able to aid in recovery from stroke and other neurological problems. We saw wheelchairs rehabilitation work for the problems and conditions below:

  • Paralysis on one side of the body
  • Immobility or paralysis of a single limb
  • Paralysis in front or rear limbs
  • Weakened hind legs
  • Loss of coordination
  • Herniated disc
  • Stroke

While some dogs who suffer from paralysis on one side of the body tend to run in circles at first, as they build up strength in their legs again, as they won’t have to worry to bear weight, they can then help them possibly use their weakened legs. legs on their own over time. Please be informed of specific instructions and a detailed rehabilitation plan should come from your veterinarian or rehabilitation specialist so they can find out what will work best for you and your pet and if rehabilitation is a viable option for them.

Recovering from an injury or surgery

German Shepherd With Degenerative Myelopathy Uses Dog Wheelchair to Live Longer

Aiding in recovery from a physical or post-surgical injury are two very common reasons for using a dog or pet wheelchair. Ensuring your dog loses the extra weight and pressure caused by their injury or the location of their recent surgery is an important part of the healing process. Ensuring that your dog heals properly and safely, while still being able to have some independence when walking and going to the bathroom, is an important part of his recovery, both physical and mental.

Healing after injury or surgery are some of the most common reasons why a dog would need a dog wheelchair. Some of the common injuries and surgeries that benefit from wheelchair rehabilitation include:

  • ACL tear (knee)
  • After ACL repair or knee surgery
  • Rear trauma
  • Broken legs
  • Surgeries related to IVDD (spine)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • THP – Total Hip Replacement Surgery
  • Amputation of one or more limbs

If a dog has just had ACL knee repair surgery or even a total hip replacement, it can be difficult to get these dogs the movement they need while they recover. While a dog is healing, it is crucial that no additional weight or pressure is placed on the injured leg. This is especially difficult in large injured dogs. Many large dogs benefit from the use of a wheelchair during their recovery. Using a dog wheelchair allows dogs to remain mobile and can give families confidence that their dog can still be active while remaining safe. Additionally, using a wheelchair eliminates the risk of pet owners injuring or straining their backs while lifting a heavy dog.

Physiotherapy at home with a dog wheelchair

Your dog’s treatment plan will be unique and designed to meet their individual mobility needs based on their health needs. You should always work closely with your rehabilitation specialist to develop the appropriate rehabilitation plan for your dog. There are many at-home treatments, therapies and exercises to aid your dog’s recovery. Always discuss any treatment with your dog’s healthcare professional before trying it at home. Some different types of physical therapy things you can do with your dog in a wheelchair are:

  • Strength training
  • Passive Range of Motion (PROM)
  • Stand up and count
  • Stand and shift weight


Although some dogs will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of their lives, many have been able to use it to help them rehabilitate. Dogs in wheelchairs can be just as happy as dogs who don’t use one and it can even be a way to rehabilitate your dog. Temporary use of a wheelchair restores your pet’s mobility and is one of the main reasons why dog ​​wheelchairs are so important.

Whether recovering from surgery or a neurological problem, using a dog wheelchair as part of your dog’s rehabilitation plan with your veterinarian or rehabilitation specialist is a great way to help your dog through the process safely and with support. Since the Walkin’ Wheels is easy to use, it makes guided rehabilitation in difficult conditions in your own home much easier.

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