Mobility Help for Senior Pets

Nov 18, 2019   Tracey Aston   Senior Pet Care

As pets begin to age mobility becomes more and more of an issue. This could be due to arthritis, previous injury or a degenerative or neurological condition. Thankfully, there are now varied and numerous types of mobility aids for our pets ranging from the very inexpensive toe grips to wheelchairs costing several hundreds of dollars. The type of aid your pet will require depends on many things, including the degree of their mobility and their personal comfort. 

For pets that still have good balance but only struggle on hardwood or tile floors, toe grips are a very inexpensive way to aid your pet in getting more traction. Toe grips are natural rubber rings that slide onto a dog's weight-bearing toenails and provide more traction to prevent slipping and possible injury.

The next step up from toe grips is traction socks or boots - both are made with silicone gel sole to keep the pet from slipping. Some pets will use these with no issue while others don't feel quite comfortable and may require some time and patience to get used to them. Pets that require support in only one joint from previous injury, surgery or arthritis can benefit from splints or braces. Pets with degenerative conditions or severe arthritis may start “knuckling” while walking. Knuckling is when a pet drags one of their paws and ends up walking on the top of the foot instead of on the paw pads. There are training socks and braces made specifically for this type of condition and are referred to simply as “no-knuckling training socks or braces.”

Pets in need of a little extra help getting up or keeping their balance can benefit from slings or harnesses. Again, these types of devices come in many different types from lifting slings to rear support harnesses and even some that provide fully body support. These types of slings can be used to help a pet into the standing position, provide assistance on stairs –if it is safe for the pet and pet parent do to so – and to help provide support when a pet has to relieve themselves. It's essential to note that pet parents learn the proper ways to use these slings and harnesses to prevent injury to their pet or themselves. Large and extra-large dogs with weight bearing issues can quickly become very heavy and a pet parent will want to make sure they have complete control of their pet before attempting ramps or stairs. 

Some pets only need assistance in reaching higher surfaces like the couch, bed or car. For those pets there are step stools, stairs and ramps available.  These types of assistive devices can come in carpeted or non-carpeted, plastic and metal and varying sizes and lengths.  Always check the weight limits before buying steps, stairs or ramps as buying the wrong type can result in injury to a pet. 

For pets that still want to get out and about but can't keep up like in their youth, there are doggy strollers, bike baskets and wagons. As with the ramps and stools, it's imperative to check the weight limits, as well as lengths to make sure your pet will be safe and comfortable during their outings. 

For pets that have become paralyzed or have little use of their rear legs – where most debilitating arthritis hits – there is the “walkin' scooter” or wheelchairs. The Walkin' Scooter is made for cats and dogs less than 65 lbs. Pet parents will place their pet's hind end in a nylon bag that comes with the scooter and set them on the padded surface. Once the pet is secured, they will be able scoot themselves around without the risk of scratches, scrapes or injury.  Wheelchairs are by far the most expensive type of mobility device on this list, but they are the only device that will allow a large dog to regain their mobility completely without the aid of their pet parent.  The majority of wheelchairs made are for rear disabled pets but there are paraplegic wheelchairs to will support both front and back.  It must be stated that pet wheelchairs are to be used to help a pet regain mobility for outings or potty breaks and are NOT meant to be used 24/7 and doing so may result in injury to the pet.

Mobility issues used to mean a life of sitting in a pet bed alone, being left behind or even euthanasia but thanks to these devices our senior and disabled pets can live a longer, happier and healthier life where they want to be – with their family! 

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