There are more than 75 million pet dogs in the U.S., which is more than in any other country. In comparison, there were only 68 million pet dogs the year 2000 across the United States.
Taking care of puppies and dogs is a lot of work — for anyone. You’ll need to bring a puppy in for vaccines every three to four weeks until they’re at least 16 weeks old. You’ll need to train your dog to prevent dog bites, which impact 4.5 million Americans each year. You’ll have to walk, train, and feed your dog, and do so much more.
Even taking care of the healthiest dogs can be difficult. Add in some unfortunate cases, disabilities can amplify those difficulties.
Every year, there are more than 2 million new wheelchair users in the United States. Though it’s much more common for humans to utilize wheelchairs, for dogs with mobility issues, these devices are great for allowing them to walk, play, run, and get the exercise they need.
According to VCA, thanks to technological advancements, dogs are living much longer today than ever before. With advanced age, however, comes physical changes to the body and mind that can alter day-to-day actives, including general mobility. Dogs are living much longer, which leads many to subsequently develop progressive degenerative conditions that can lead to disabilities and alter their activities of daily living (ADLs).
Exercise is imperative for all dogs in order to keep them in good physical condition and keep their weight down. Dogs who whine, bark, or are restless at night usually do so out of boredom and lack of exercise. With the aid of a wheelchair, these negative behaviors will typically diminish.
Here are a few different types of wheelchairs and support carts that dogs can benefit from:
Two-wheeled carts are great for dogs with rear limb weakness or for post-surgery rehabilitation.
Two-wheeled carts with extra support and front extensions that gives support to all four limbs.
Hand-held lifting devices are great for helping dogs get up and down stairs, into cars, and through doorways.
Walking aids, which can help support a dog’s hindquarters.
It’s important to keep in mind that most dogs who previously struggled with mobility issues relish the freedom that a wheelchair provides. Regardless, it typically only takes a few days for them to adjust. In some instances, however, some training will be needed in order to help your dog learn how to handle their new wheelchair. Also, there is a small percentage of dogs that will reject a wheelchair over and over again.
According to WLOS, Brevard High School students in North Carolina have designed a wheelchair for a puppy who has very little movement in her hind legs.
Monkey, the special needs puppy, is now able to roll around and comfortably get around.
Brevard High School student Courtney Meyer designed the wheelchair for Monkey after Sarah Rhymer, animal science teacher, brought the puppy to school.
“I have a real passion for animals, so when Miss Rhymer first showed me the dog and let me see her walk, I was so heartbroken,” said Meyer, a senior.
Now, equipped with a new set of wheels and plenty of newfound confidence, Monkey is excited for her new life thanks to some quality engineering and compassion.
“I got to see her run for the first time down the hallway,” added Meyer. “She hasn’t been able to run, and I was just overwhelmed with joy being able to see her face light up.”
After she graduates from high school, Meyer, who won Brevard’s Person of the Week award, hopes to pursue a career in computer engineering at N.C. State. The wheelchair she designed has lightweight flex pipes and black joints, which were printed using the school’s 3-D printer, as well as a repurposed tourniquet for support.
“You don’t need a degree to help animals,” Meyer said. “You don’t need a vet degree or engineering degree to do something as simple as this.”