This is a post I have wanted to write for a long time. It is about strollers and how to decide when is a pet stroller the best choice for your paralyzed dog or cat? The story is important to me because I realized that for many pet parents the idea of moving your fur kid from a wheelchair to a stroller has a stigma attached to it. I think it’s due to the fact that we know how important regular exercise is for the health of our disabled pets and the concept of pushing them around in a stroller seems like the exact opposite of what we should be doing.
That’s why we love dog wheelchairs so much. It is a sign that our pet is doing well even with the circumstances of paralysis.
Unfortunately life in the real world doesn’t always work the way we hope and one day your dog might reach the point when they don’t’ have the strength or balance to use their cart and you will need to transition them to a stroller. This doesn’t happen to every dog, but I thought you might like to be aware of the choices available, just in case. And I don’t want any pet parent to feel badly if a stroller becomes the best choice for your paralyzed dog.
The one thing I have learned during the 5 years of taking care of Sophie and the nearly 3 years of writing this blog is, “Every case of paralysis is unique.”
Our Personal Story
Sophie’s illness was progressive and although we never had a confirmed diagnosis, her symptoms followed those of dogs with Degenerative Myelopathy. DM is an incurable disease of the spinal cord that strips away the protective coating (myelin) which allows the brain and limbs to communicate. It first affects the rear legs and later moves upward in the body paralyzing the front limbs as well.
It took Sophie about six months to become completely paralyzed in hind end. Somewhere during that time my husband and I bought her a rear support wheelchair. She was already 10 years-old at the time and never became a fan of walking in her cart although she used it for nearly two years.
By year three the paralysis attacked Sophie’s front legs and walking in her wheelchair became too difficult for her. That is when I started to research other options.
You can read more about Degenerative Myelopathy in Skye’s Story.
The majority of strollers seemed to be made for small and medium-sized dogs and Sophie weighed 50-55lbs so the search took a while. One day while I was attending an annual event for dogs in our community called Petapalooza I met a large disabled dog being pushed in fully enclosed cart. The pet mom explained that it was originally intended to be attached to the back of a bicycle so pet owners could take their dogs for a ride. She had adapted it for her dog by attaching a front wheel and a handle.
The woman suggested I contact a company called DoggyRide to see if a bicycle cart could be adapted for Sophie. The idea completely changed our lives.
It turned out that DoggyRide also realized that their carts could be used for handicapped and elderly pets so they had a new design that included a front wheel and handles so that it functioned like an oversized stroller.
We immediately purchased one and it was a godsend for Sophie. She could sit inside comfortably while we pushed her around the neighborhood. She felt safe inside the enclosed cabin. We realized a pet stroller was the best choice for our dog’s needs and used it every day until the time that Sophie could no longer sit up on her own.
She would happily hang her head out the front of the cart to see the sights and enjoy the smells of the entire neighborhood. It was a small victory in our attempt to make our paralyzed pup feel more like a normal dog.
Stroller Options Big and Small
Here are three different brands of strollers I like that will accommodate dogs big and small. When you start researching strollers keep in mind the three basic models: trailers, three-wheelers, and four-wheelers.
DoggyRide – Today the company has jogging and walking trailer/strollers for dogs of all sizes and needs. These durable trailer models range in size from Mini’s for petite pooches, to the original jogger-stroller for big dogs that Sophie used and luxury jogging-strollers that give extra comfort for senior dogs and those with mobility problems. You can find DoggyRide on Amazon.com.
- Lightweight aluminum alloy frame
- Stainless steel spokes and hubs
- Quick release wheels
- Padded front headrest and additional front reflective striping
- Central wheel aligner for optimal jogging
- Lowered clearance for easy access
- Roof opening to sit comfortably
- Mesh rear door for maximum air flow through the cabin
- Folds for storage
Walkin’ Pet Stroller – This three- wheel stroller is from HandicappedPets.com. It is designed for easy maneuvering and comfort. The stroller features a pet compartment with ventilated mesh to keep your dog cool and protected. It’s great for transporting small dogs and cats or for use as a mobility cart for senior, disabled or injured pets. There is a large storage basket to hold treats and toys. There is even a “parent’s tray” and cup holder. The Walkin’ Pet Stroller designed for pets weighing 50lbs. or less.
- Light weight, Easy to fold
- Swivel Lockable front wheel
- Lockable Rear wheels
- Large basket 21.5″ X 12″
- Parents Tray
Happy Trails Pet Stroller – This stroller is carried by Doolittle’s Pet Products which specializes in helping senior dogs. Happy Trails is designed to give support to small senior pups and disabled dogs and cats that weigh up to 30 lbs. It is ideal for taking pets on long walks or shopping and it offers an extra plush pad to make your fur kid comfy. The stroller keeps your pet safe while letting them have full front visibility. Happy Trails is made with the pet owner in mind and allows you to push your pet without putting strain on your back.
- Stroller height to handle: 40″
- Protective compartment with zippered opening for easy access
- Internal fleece pad with waterproof liner
- Storage basket
- Tray to hold drinks, keys, etc.
- Rear safety brakes
- Front shock absorbers
- Easy one-hand fold mechanism
- Interior tether can be attached to your pet’s harness for extra protection
Have you transitioned from a wheelchair to a stroller for your paraplegic or senior pet?
If you think this post would be helpful to another pet parent…. Please share it!