Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin’ (Part II)

November 3, 2014

Susan Davis, PT of JoyCareOnsite.com gives further information on mobility carts for dogs in Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin’ (Part II) These articles originally appeared on DawgBusiness.com.

Here is the promised list of several major wheeled cart companies.

Eddie’s Wheels for Pets
www.eddieswheels.com

Remember the famous line delivered by Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire: ….. “You had me at hello”..?  Well, they had me way before hello. I met Leslie Grinnell, co-owner and wife of Eddie, in person at an animal rehabilitation conference in 2013 and bonded with this lovely woman instantly.

I have since traveled to their facility in Shelburne Falls, MA, spent quality time with Leslie and Eddie, toured the shop, met their employees, and received expert instructions on making cart adjustments. I’m a fan. But long before this I was convinced of their product’s superiority through experience ordering them for patients and seeing the beautiful design, quality and workmanship.  Eddie Grinnell, a mechanical engineer, combined his expert skills with love of pets to invent a cart design which is closely aligned to the dog’s center of gravity and natural axis of motion at the hip and shoulder joints. This is very important in helping accurately mimic the pet’s normal movement and prevent pulling or strain.

The cart frame is made of solid aluminum, being durable yet light weight, with stainless steel set screws and wheel fittings. Eddie’s has a welded, padded saddle uniquely designed for various breeds to match the shape and angle of their pelvis, and provide comfortable support for the pelvic floor. Careful measurements are required, but can be taken by the family, veterinarian or therapist. Carts are fully adjustable, using some basic tools.

Are there any negatives to consider with Eddie’s Wheels?  Honestly, no. Some folks might not like waiting 2-3 weeks for their cart to arrive, but after observing the effort and precision that goes into each one, it’s worth it. The carts are just a bit heavier than others’ (while being lightweight overall) but this would only be an issue with extremely frail dogs.

New developments at Eddie’s Wheels: Wheeled Walkers designed for smaller pets under 30 pounds, who need light, full-body support for their mobility.

“Gait Keepers” or the use of bungee or other type of elastic cord attached to the dog harness, or cart frame on one end, and to the pet’s distal limb at the other, used to assist/resist and re-train the limb movements.

Hospital Clinic “standers”, portable and adjustable to allow a severly weakened or paralyzed pet to passively stand. It serves to elongate the spine, de load joints, & allow for controlled weight bearing.

K9 Cart
www.K9Carts.com

K9 Carts’ cart is designed by a veterinary surgeon, which seems like a good thing, but I remain convinced that engineers trump vets or therapists in the creation and building of mechanical equipment.

The carts are bulky and the frame is made with tubular aluminum (not solid). Support straps and leg rings are made with nylon webbing material which I find to be thin and not super supportive. The company is veterinarian owned and operated.

Doggon Wheels
www.doggon.com

A positive feature is their cart being very light weight, which might be desired for an extremely frail or delicate pet. However the design, using high side bars, is not centered along the animal’s natural midline. The wheels are offset and placed widely apart, instead of closely aligned to the body.

Walkin Wheels
www.handicappedpets.com/walkinwheels

The design is, well, awkward. The frame materials are not the highest quality and the stirrups and support straps are of soft, loose construction. Carts are prefabricated, not custom built.  There is just one easy measurement and the carts ship quickly, but the client must self- assemble (no tools required). Some of the materials used for the carts are from China.

They don’t try to hide that fact, and it may not matter to you, but it’s worth noting.  The company touts their product as being environmentally friendly and easy to re-use on other pets. I would be more concerned with durability over disposability or ease of re-use! I am not a fan of their carts; however the parent company Handicapped Pets, carries some very good products for other aspects of disability pet care.

Dewey’s Wheelchairs for Dogs
www.wheelchairsfordogs.com

Dewey’s Wheelchairs for Dogs uses light- weight plastic materials. Their support straps are quite thin and look as if they will cause discomfort.

Ruff Rollin Wheels
www.ruffrollin.com

I like the design and workmanship of these aluminum based custom built carts. I rate them as ‘the best of the rest’.

Best Friend Mobility carts
www.bestfriendmobility.org

Very simple but rather rudimentary design. They are light weight and feature a lower cost than other carts.

Final considerations

Recycled carts

Some companies will accept used carts when a pet no longer needs them or dies, and might modify them for other pets whose family has a financial burden.  The donor can experience deep satisfaction in knowing their dog’s cart has become a legacy for another deserving pet.

Do-it-Yourself carts

Though I admire the spirit and creativity behind those “self-builders’ of the world, there is real risk of injury (strain, overuse) to your pet.  Consider this option only if you have no other choice and the cart is strictly for temporary or short-term use.  Use every resource you can to buy a cart from a reputable company before attempting to build it on your own.

When not to use a cart

There are instances when I do not recommend carts such as: when a pet is just not motivated to be mobile (rare), when a pet owner is not physically capable of handling the cart or placing their pet within, when potential exertion may cause undue medical risk, when a dog is in pain or is fearful of the cart, the financial expense versus predicted longevity of dog’s lifespan, etc.

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Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

TheOldBroad November 4, 2014 at 3:25 PM

I’ve often wondered how dogs in carts handle bathroom activities. Do they simply raise their tail? Or are they taken out of the cart to go potty?

Has there been any investigation on cats using carts?

Patrick Mahaney November 6, 2014 at 9:43 AM

It can be challenging for mobility compromised dogs (and cats) in carts to urinate and defecate. Sometimes they need to wear a diaper. Other times, the feces and urine simply trickles/falls out of them and the owner must clean up after.

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