Are you experienced with wheelchairs and harnesses for senior dogs? - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 02-11-2013, 04:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Are you experienced with wheelchairs and harnesses for senior dogs?

I did read the Tips for Seniors (including equipment) sticky and I have been posting about my senior GSD in another thread:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...46-post34.html

I live in the city with about five steps down to the sidewalk and I have a backyard. Cowboy prefers to go out the front though, because the stairs are not as steep as the steps in the back. We have gone from weakness in his hind end last spring to him tripping over himself and leaning on his own legs while standing to wobbly, to sort of tiptoeing, or his feet seeming to try to step but his nervous system just isn't quite connecting anymore. For awhile, the webmaster harness helped him walk, but now he is to the point that he's not really walking. Case in point:

January 9 video chasing squirrel along fence in backyard:
VIDEO0043 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

February 4 video, chasing snow I'm kicking:
VIDEO0047 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Today, February 11. Here is the extent of our walks now. People slow down their cars and point and stare nowadays :

VIDEO0048 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Wheelchair or rear lift? Or do I need to face the fact that this is almost over for us in this lifetime? If you don't want to be open about your opinion, feel free to PM me privately instead. Hopefully I can take it. I wish I could do a poll so people could be more anonymous. I used to be a vet tech and assisted many during these transitions and never thought I would find this decision so difficult, myself. And if you do feel that a wheelchair or rear lift is a happy option, which have you used and liked or disliked? I am interested in what you have had experience with, not just links to equipment to consider. I'm hoping to get your personal experience. I did read the sticky in this forum, but I not only have a sort of quality of life question, but specific equipment questions too. Thank you so much. This is a very hard thing to have to even talk about.
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This silence is deafening.
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I think it's possible that people on this forum, who are currently posting, have not used either and don't feel comfortable commenting. I have not used a wheelchair - and don't know if the rear lift looks comfortable enough (to use as a person) but maybe a combo of them. When my Nina got sick with GI Lymphoma, the webmaster stopped working when her hind legs did - it just wasn't enough.

Handicapped Pets has a web forum - I am not sure how busy it is.

You are probably in an area where a rehab type vet could help a great deal for this. Is it DM? Because there is also that website.

I always remember a beautiful website that had photographs of this dog in his wheelchair, and then on a garden cart, getting pulled around the beach, big happy face, no pain from DM. I don't know how they did other stuff, but those pictures were great.
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I saw your post and thought of this picture



I've no experience I'm sorry but I wanted to support you whatever you choose to do. I've a gsd in my area that uses a wheelchair. If I see them and can approach I will ask about it. I wish you all the best. Seriously though, I think a wheelchair is worth it although it may be heartbreaking to see them fall sideways when running :'c. Your pup is in my prayers.
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Suka,

I so feel for you! My last dog started having similar mobility issues when he turned 14. We used harness that had a rear support to assist with walking. For some reason, I can't remember the name off hand. I will look it up.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:25 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks - yep I just wanted some of my forum friends to have a chance to sound in. It's totally possible that the experience is very rare. I totally appreciate your personal experience input (I just wanted to bump it up a bit)
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Canine Orthopedic Equipment Designed for Increased Mobility and Extra Support - Whole Dog Journal Article
Comments interesting.
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you for the link to those comments!!!
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:32 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The wheelchair thing always sounds like a great idea, but really it isn't. Some things to consider:

1. The dog has to be supervised EVERY MINUTE they are in the wheels. This isn't something you can put them in and let them go wander around. BUT I did have good experiences with using wheels for travel, for getting my old dog in and out of flyball tournament sites. But that's pretty much the only thing we used the wheels for.

2. The wheels tip over pretty easily, and depending on the mobility of the dog they might not be able to get back up without assistance.

3. They are EXTREMELY expensive. I was lucky that a friend loaned us her cart for Tori's last year.

4. With a large dog, a cart is completely useless in the house. Gets caught on furniture and doorways.

5. The dog has to remain standing or walking the entire time they are in the cart, they can't lie down. Think about it, how much does your dog want to stand?

6. Moving a large dog in and out of a cart is hard on your back.

The cart had it's uses, but for everyday life we found it pretty impractical.

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Old 02-15-2013, 10:48 AM   #10 (permalink)
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My lab lost function of his back legs for a prolonged period. Our vet recommended not using the wheelchair because she was concerned he would lose even more function by not using his rear legs. Instead I just used a towel and helped him carry his back half. I always meant to buy a better rear-lifter but got so used to the towel that we never did. I thought things went well for us, but he only had two steps to go up and down.

Getting him in and out of the car was difficult, and he was going to the vet and to the local university frequently so that was an issue. He and I learned for me to lift his front legs onto the seat, then I would lift his rear legs up as he walked forward with the front. Getting him out of the car was far scarier because one time I opened the back door and he tried to leap out and landed on his face on the concrete. Thankfully we both learned from that and it never happened again.

Overall, as far as was it a happy experience I would say it was at that time for us a better option than the alternative. He did end up going blind but he still had some happiness in life and we became very bonded because of the intense care he needed. He did end up regaining enough function in his back to be able to walk again without help. He had to stay on his gabapentin and tramadol for pain, but he seemed pretty content and comfortable. He did end up dying, but I wouldn't trade the time I had with him that last difficult year.
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