Mobility Aids Help Senior Dogs Keep Moving

PetGuide
PetGuide logo

When I was growing up, I was devastated when our childhood pet Nipper developed arthritis of the spine. It came out of left field and left him struggling to walk and clearly distressed at the puddles left behind when he couldn’t get to the door on time. Add to that the path of mats and carpets placed strategically throughout the house to help prevent the inevitable slipping and sliding on hard surface floors, and you have a pretty good idea of what went into ensuring his aging body was able to remain relatively active during his final months.

Fast forward a few decades and while I’m not sure if it was the sudden “arrival” of an ageing population of boomers seeking walkers, chair lifts, kitchen gadgets designed for arthritic joints, and large font options on computers, but somewhere along the line, some genius had an “aha” moment and decided our differently-abled pets could benefit with similar devices. Well, maybe not the large font…

Related: ToeGrips Help Dogs Get A Grip

We all know that our furry guys still want to do all the same things they did when they were a pup and that most of these things involve getting outside and being mobile. But while the mind is willing the body just isn’t, and that’s where some pretty ingenious folk have stepped in to bridge the generation gap:

  • Often in the early stages of aging, dogs will drag one or more feet as they’re out walking. Walking booties can save tender tootsies from scrapes and scruffs that come from rough surfaces such as gravel, pavement or rocky paths.
  • If you find your pooch has a weaker leg, a splint can help ensure he is able to remain active and mobile. Available for front or rear legs, it is positioned to the back of your dog’s leg and is adjusted with padded Velcro straps. The splint allows him to put weight on the weaker leg, and continue to walk in a normal manner.

Related: Ramps And Pet Steps Give Stiff Senior Dogs A Leg Up

  • For older or injured dogs, there are a number of lifting harnesses on the market that are designed to provide mobility support for your pooch’s front or rear section when out walking. If your little guy struggles with stairs or getting in and out of your vehicle, the harness can be used to lift both ends.
  • If your dog is still mobile but unsteady, a support sling might be the best answer. As its name implies, it wraps around his mid-section and cradles him as you walk along-side of him. Similar to how you would carry a tote bag.
  • If your pooch’s rear legs have deteriorated significantly and supporting his weight via a lifting harness just isn’t feasible, rear wheel dog wheelchairs are the perfect solution. Rover uses his front legs to motor along, exploring and sniffing as usual while his back legs are safely supported through stirrups positioned comfortably close to the ground.
  • For those living in four-season regions, snow doesn’t have to keep Rover housebound. Ski-like attachments for his wheelchair are available and essentially turn the apparatus into a doggie sled.
  • If your country canine loves nothing better than a ride in the truck, age doesn’t have to curb this activity. Solid metal ramps or folding steps can have him riding shot-gun in no time. Similarly, a foam version is available for use in home when sleeping alongside you on the bed seems like a thing of the past.
  • Because many homes aren’t set up for an active dog in a wheelchair, there is actually a “drag bag” available on the market. Poochie slides in (think sleeping bag) and can have access to the entire house without risk of abrasions or sores from rough surfaces.
  • Because the call of nature can happen any time and our aging pooches are often caught off guard, there is a fitted pet diaper that Rover can wear around the house as a precautionary measure. While it might look odd, it sure beats steaming cleaning the carpets each week!
  • We all know that “pee happens” and that includes during the night. An ingenious solution to your pooch waking to a urine-soaked dog bed is a special SleePee Time Bed that is constructed with special vinyl-coated polyester fibre mesh that is cozy for your pooch but with wider gauge mesh that allows urine to flow through to a protective pan underneath.

Mary SimpsonMary Simpson is an animal-loving writer and communications professional.  A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include orange tabby Chico, tuxedo Simon, and jet black Owen. She enjoys running, politics, exploring local wine regions and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.