Harnessing Mobility: How Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchairs Enhance Physical Therapy

Harnessing Mobility: How Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchairs Enhance Physical Therapy

  18 Dec 2023

The Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair is a mobility assist device that provides dogs with the support they need to stay active. The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair features full adjustability in length, width, and height to offer pets a customized fit. Many injured or paralyzed dogs will use a wheelchair during recovery and for additional support during physical therapy sessions.  

It’s essential to keep all dogs active, especially the older ones or those that face mobility issues. When a dog suffers from mobility challenges, it may become inactive, leading to weight gain and muscle loss, which can further exacerbate its condition. Incorporating a wheelchair into physical therapy is a great way to support your dog as they work to stand, walk, and work through their various exercises.  

The Role of Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchairs in Physical Therapy  

Supporting Mobility with Walkin’ Wheels 

Although the exercises and methodology will vary by dog, a rehab specialist will work with your dog during physical therapy to build up muscle strength and increase range of motion and flexibility. Introducing a wheelchair can aid in maintaining and improving mobility. The cart’s support will reduce the pressure placed on a dog’s limbs while encouraging them to walk and continue to use their back legs. Some pets may rely on a wheelchair for all exercise, whereas other dogs may only need a wheelchair for a short period of time as they build up their strength and stamina.  

Choosing the right cart for your dog’s physical therapy is crucial and depends on the area that most needs support. Walkin’ Wheels rear wheelchairs offer support to weak hind legs, while the full-support wheelchair is designed to aid both front and back legs. The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair is the most adaptable canine cart available. A dog undergoing rehabilitation may begin with a quad wheelchair, and as their front legs regain strength, the front attachment can be removed only to support the hind end. For those with a progressive condition such as DM, the rear cart can be converted into a full support wheelchair as needed. 

Enhancing Physical Therapy Outcomes with Walkin’ Wheels 

A wheelchair helps assist your pet in remaining active and getting exercise. Their cart can help enhance their physical therapy sessions by helping a dog stay upright in a natural standing position, work on maintaining their balance, and reduce the weight placed in their legs as their therapist works with them. Not only does this significantly benefit their physical well-being, but in between sessions, the cart can be used to support your dog on their daily walks and make it easier for them to go potty. Your dog’s wheelchair can be used daily and consistently to help them to stay mobile. When used in conjunction with physical therapy, a wheelchair can help improve your dog’s quality of life.  

Preparing for Physical Therapy with a Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair  

Consultation with a Veterinarian 

Your veterinarian plays a key role in helping you decide if your dog is a good candidate for a dog wheelchair. Treating canine mobility loss begins with a diagnosis. Your veterinarian will work to help you understand the underlying cause of your dog’s mobility loss and develop a treatment plan that best fits your pet’s needs.  

A veterinarian will assess your dog’s need for a Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair based on their gait and overall mobility. Determining if a wheelchair is the best choice for your pet often begins with a simple towel test. In this test, your vet will support your dog’s hind end – if the dog can walk forward while supported, they are an excellent candidate for a dog wheelchair. It’s important to understand that a wheelchair is only one piece of your dog’s treatment plan. Your dog’s therapy plan will include other methods of treatment as well, including pain management and various therapies. Your dog’s tailored therapy plan may include hydrotherapy, massage, exercises, acupuncture, and laser therapy, to name just a few.  

Choosing the Right Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair 

The Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair is available in a range of sizes – the right cart for your dog will be determined based on your dog’s weight and rear leg height, as well as their condition. Here’s a quick guide to choosing the right cart for your dog based on their diagnosis: 

Rear Wheelchair 

  • Intervertebral Disc Disease 
  • Early-stage Degenerative Myelopathy (only back legs effected)  
  • Hip Dysplasia 
  • Knee injury – such as a CCL or ACL tears 
  • Hind limb paralysis  
  • Osteoarthritis in the hind legs 
  • General difficulty walking  
  • Occasional loss of balance 
  • Surgical recovery 

Full Support Wheelchair 

  • Cerebellar Hypoplasia 
  • Late-stage Degenerative Myelopathy (both back and front legs impacted) 
  • Neurological conditions 
  • Loss of strength in all four legs 
  • Balance struggles  
  • Additional stability for front limb amputations 

Proper fitting is critical to ensure your dog gets adequate support in their Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair. During therapy sessions, it’s pretty common for a dog’s body to change. This means the fit of your dog’s cart may need to be adjusted throughout their treatment. Luckily, an adjustable dog wheelchair can adapt to any physical changes in your dog’s body. If a dog gains or loses weight, the wheelchair width can be adjusted to accommodate. An adjustable wheelchair is ideal for dogs that are still growing, as that cart can grow with them.  

Check in regularly with your veterinarian over the course of your dog’s therapy treatments. Your rehab specialist should keep your vet up to date on your dog’s progress, but make sure to schedule regular vet visits so that your vet can help advise your dog’s treatment plan as needed. Sometimes, a dog’s progress may seem very gradual, but a lot can happen in a short time, and your vet may see a significant change that isn’t noticeable to you.  

Incorporating the Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair into Physical Therapy  

Introduction of Walkin’ Wheels 

Dog wheelchair for dog rehabilitation therapy

The timing of when your dog should begin using the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair during therapy will be decided by your veterinarian and rehab specialist. For example, a dog in physical therapy after surgery will likely need to wait until their wounds are healed before using a wheelchair. A gradual introduction is also likely for a dog dealing with a spinal condition, like IVDD, which often requires weeks of crate rest before the dog is cleared for using a wheelchair. Other pets may be able to start using a cart much sooner. Always work with your veterinarian to decide when the time is right for your dog to begin using a wheelchair in therapy.  

When your dog gets the all-clear for wheelchair use, understand that introducing them to their new wheels will be on their own time. A gradual introduction of your dog’s cart may be needed. Your dog’s therapist may only recommend wheelchair use for a short duration at the beginning or during specific exercises. Many pets need to build up their stamina and will gradually increase their cart time over a few weeks. And remember that using a wheelchair is as new to your dog as it will be to you. Positive reinforcement and patience are crucial to helping your dog adjust to their new wheelchair.  

Targeted Exercises with the Walkin’ Wheels 

How and when your dog uses their new wheelchair for physical therapy will depend on the guidance of your physical therapist and may change over time. Here are a few examples of how your dog’s cart may be used during therapy sessions: 

  • Patterning and gait training – the wheelchair will support your dog as the therapist physically moves your dog’s feet to encourage them to step and move their back legs.  
  • Underwater treadmill – provides balance and keeps pets upright as they work through treadmill exercises.  
  • Flexion and extension – to help open the knee and or hip to promote range of motion.  
  • Therapy stands – used for additional support during acupuncture, massage, or laser therapies. 
  • Strength training – supportive aid during exercises to promote strength and stamina   

All these different therapies and exercises complement your dog’s use of the Walkin’ Wheels and are often done simultaneously with wheelchair exercises. A multi-modal approach is often the best choice to improve a dog’s mobility and well-being.  

Real-Life Success Stories with Walkin’ Wheels 

LuLu our beagle puppy is recovering from a spinal operation. The wheels have done miracles in helping her learn to walk again. She has not fully recovered yet but progress with the wheels has been great. 

– Lemual C. Stewart Jr. (Lulu’s dad)

Cutter’s cart has been amazing and a godsend. It has really improved her walking – even on her own! I’ve spread the word about you guys to tons of people around here & in Boston! 

– Dr. Julie Zitz, DVM, DACVS, MA

Paralyzed dog uses wheelchair during water therapy

Some of the things that I really like about it, one is cost. Cost is a reasonable cost that most owners can absorb and the adjustability. The adjustability also gives us the benefit of, as they improve to maybe allow them to try and use their rear legs more when maybe in the beginning, their rear legs had to be just elevated. And there are different components, different harnesses, different attachments that allow a dog to be maybe not completely weight bearing, where the rear legs are held up in stirrups to a lower level of support where they can exercise more with a cart for support, but more using their own limbs by themselves. 

– Dr. David Levine, PT, PHD, DPT, CCRP 

Conclusion

Incorporating a Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair into your dog’s physical therapy will encourage them to walk and build their strength over time. With the wheelchair’s support, your dog can easily manage their exercises while limiting the risk of further injury and promoting overall wellness. During therapy, your dog will work to regain their leg strength and muscle tone through structured exercise, while the wheelchair lessens the weight placed on aching joints and helps them stay active for longer. If your pet is facing mobility changes, talk to your veterinarian about exploring the Walkin’ Wheels as a possible solution for your best friend. It’s always important to seek professional guidance before beginning any rehabilitation plan. Provide contact information for inquiries or assistance with Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchairs. 

Does your dog use a Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair already? We’d love to hear your dog’s success story or experience with using Walkin’ Wheels during physical therapy. Please share in the comments below or email us at [email protected] 

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