This story was updated October 2018.
This is an important story I wanted to write for a long time. It’s about strollers and how to decide when is a pet stroller the best choice for your paralyzed dog. Somewhere along the line, I realized that for many pet parents the idea of transitioning your paralyzed dog from a wheelchair to a stroller is a sign of failure and it had a stigma attached to it.
I think that belief is partly due to the fact that we know how important exercise is for the health of our disabled pets. The concept of pushing them around in a stroller seems like the exact opposite of what we should be doing.
And I believe we secretly tell ourselves that if our dog can use a wheelchair they are doing well, even though they can’t walk. Unfortunately life 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. That’s what happened to my dog. This story will help you be prepared…. just in case.
I don’t want any pet owner to feel badly if a stroller becomes the best choice for your paralyzed dog.
The one thing I’ve learned during the 5 years of taking care of Sophie and the many years of writing this blog is, “Every case of paralysis is unique.”
Why Luke’s family decided a stroller was the best option
Luke became paralyzed after being hit by a car. The Terrier/Schnauzer mix nearly lost his life due to internal bleeding, swelling on his brain and severe damage to his spine. And to make matters even more complicated, Luke’s pet mom Patricia was pregnant at the time of the accident. The veterinarian told Patricia and her family their dog would never lead a normal life, but they weren’t ready gave up on him. They wanted to give him a chance.
“Luke is a member of our family and we couldn’t put him down,” said Patricia.
So when Luke was healthy enough to come home Patricia went to work learning everything about taking care of a paralyzed dog. That included buying her boy a wheelchair.
Unfortunately, Luke had trouble using his cart. He had lost a lot of weight after the accident and had trouble getting his strength back. The wheelchair was too much for him to maneuver.
Patricia wanted Luke to have as much of a normal life as possible so she bought him a stroller. Luke loved being outdoors before his accident and Patricia was determined to give that joy back to him. Now Luke gets a dose of fresh air everyday in his stroller.
Patricia says it’s easy to spot Luke on his walks because she is the only one on her block pushing two strollers. Patricia gave birth to a healthy baby girl during Luke’s recovery.
“My toddler loves Luke and is very compassionate towards him,” said Patricia. “She even helps change his puppy pads.”
My 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 her hind limbs. During that time my husband and I bought her a dog wheelchair. She used her cart for nearly two years, but honestly she was never a fan. I contribute that to the fact she was 10-years-old when she first became sick. By the time she was 13, Sophie was done using the cart.
By that time her paralysis started to attack her front legs. She couldn’t support her belly and it sagged in her wheelchair. Walking in the cart became an impossible task.
That’s when I started to research other options
The majority of strollers seemed to be made for small and medium-sized dogs and Sophie weighed 50-55lbs. So the search for the perfect stroller took a while. Then one day while I was attending an event for dogs in my community called Petapalooza, I met a large disabled dog being pushed in fully enclosed trailer. The owner 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 handlebar.
The woman recommended a company called DoggyRide to see if a bicycle cart could be adapted for Sophie. It completely changed our lives.
It turned out that DoggyRide also realized their carts could be used for handicapped and elderly pets. They had a new design that included a front wheel and handles so that it functioned like an oversized stroller.
We immediately bought one and it was a godsend for Sophie. She could comfortably sit inside the trailer while we pushed her around the neighborhood. She felt safe inside the enclosed cabin. After that day, we realized a pet stroller was the best choice for our dog’s needs. Sophie rode in her DoggyRide every day until her disease progressed again and she couldn’t 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 her neighborhood. It was a small victory in our attempt to make our paralyzed pup feel like a normal dog.
Stroller Options Big and Small
Here are basic options for you to compare. Strollers come in three models: Trailers, Three-wheelers, and Four-wheelers.
DoggyRide– This international company makes sturdy jogging and walking trailer/strollers for dogs of all sizes and needs. Their durable trailer models range in size from Mini’s for petite pooches, to the original jogger-stroller for big dogs. That’s the one Sophie used. DoggyRide is known for its luxury jogging-strollers that give extra comfort for senior dogs and those with mobility problems. You can find all of the models of 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
Pet Gear Strollers – This is a popular medium-price, three-wheel stroller. It comes in a variety of sizes and features. It has a zipperless entry to easily get a disabled dog in and out, one-hand folding for storage, air tires and a cover for inclement weather conditions. Pet Gear strollers are offered on Amazon.
- Easy-locking No-Zip entry; no struggling with zippers.
- Bolster Pad and weather cover included.
- Panoramic view window with 3 position canopy.
- 12 ” Air Ride tires.
HPZ Pet Rover Premium Stroller – This is a widely-known company that makes heavy duty dog or cat strollers. Each stroller features four wheels for good maneuverability on all terrains. Strollers feature a travel carriage with a convertible compartment, a zipperless entry to easy access in getting a paralyzed pet in and out, reversible handlebars and pump-free rubber tires. Pet Rover strollers are available on Amazon.
- Comfort Ride– One-hand simple mechanism that can quickly fold and unfold in seconds, and takes up minimal space when folded. Premium Human-grade Suspension system with Comfort-Ride wheels, 360-degree Rotating Front wheels, and Rear Braking system.
- All terrain – Extra-thickness Heavy-duty and light-weight frame. Strong construction uses stainless steel tubes and aluminum alloys, so it is extremely durable.
- Water proof – Breathable mesh top cover made of high-density odorless and UV-reflective material. Included 2 pads for the pet compartment made of high-density fabric which are comfortable, stain-resistance and machine-washable.
- Convertible size – You can change the size of the internal compartment, so it can hold many pets in different size.
- Extra storage – There are a large-volume under-basket, three smaller accessory bags and a bottle holder. This storage space comes in handy when you travel, shop, or just walk.
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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I love, use and recommend. Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog is an affiliate of Amazon where we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.