At a loss with 12 yo with weak back end - wheelchair advice? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy At a loss with 12 yo with weak back end - wheelchair advice?

We don't know what to do with our 12 yo male who has an extremely weak back end, daily bowel incontinence and he can't see or hear very well. The vet said he has severe spinal arthritis and he's on arthritis meds and glucosamine and periodic tramadol when he needs it. He sways like a drunk, his back paws drag and sometimes he just collapses. Sometimes he needs help getting up because his leg will get "stuck" under his belly. He wants to eat but has a hard time standing over his food bowl - his legs splay out (like Bambi on ice) and then his back end just plops down followed quickly by his front end. If I hang over him and lift his rear end he'll eat all his dinner. Now on to the good - he still comes to the front door to greet us when we get home every day, he comes over to be petted throughout the day, when we go in the backyard he follows us around like a shadow, he'll go to the toy bin and periodically get out a bone and throw it in the air like he's a puppy...

So what do we do? The wheelchairs I've seen online for large dogs are around $350. It feels like so much to pay for a time period that we know is limited. We'd buy one in a heartbeat if he was younger, but at this age, I wonder if he'll even make it to his 13th birthday in December. I've looked at the DIY wheelchair videos on Youtube but they seem a bit awkward.

I guess I just don't know what to do. We have put dogs down before and we knew it was time, but with our old man now, it's just not the time, but he clearly needs help walking and standing. So maybe we just bypass the wheelchair and just wait until he really can't get up at all anymore... or do we make his final weeks better by giving him a wheelchair?


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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 12:42 PM
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There are online vendors that allow you to rent dog wheelchairs for weeks/months, with an option to roll the rental fees into the purchase price (if you decide to buy one). Someone I trained with did this for a period of time, though I'm not certain which vendor she used.

Best of luck, and well wishes for your senior.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-21-2016, 11:10 PM
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There are also lifting harnesses and aids:

Solvit CareLift Lifting Harness for Dogs: Aids for Arthritic Dogs

And massages & exercises to do to help strengthen the back legs:

Exersises for Hind Leg Weakness - Senior Dogs Forum

When both my husky and aussie were 12+, they did prefer to eat lying down. They would lie down and I put the bowl between their front paws. Not all dogs like to do that, so hand feeding or from a small bowl may work instead of holding him up.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-22-2016, 07:22 AM
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I haven't ever used the wheelchair, but I did use lifting harness for my elderly, frail yellow lab before he died and it worked very well. I don't remember the brand, but I imagine most are similar. My neighbor had also built him a ramp to get down the front stairs which probably added several years to his life, he died at almost 14.

Last edited by newlie; 09-22-2016 at 07:29 AM.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-22-2016, 03:34 PM
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I might try a sling.

Is your dog trained? Can you tell your dog to lie down, and then when he is in a prone position give him his bowl with something very tasty in it, scrambled eggs, maybe. The idea would be to encourage eating in a prone position -- some of my dogs prefer this, other stand and bend over the dish to eat.

It is getting to be that time. It is probably a good time to start a daily diary, and mark down struggles, pain, new symptoms, and to mark down when he is happy and finding enjoyment in being around the family, comfortably resting, playing, eating.

I don't know much about wheel chairs. I think they are for dogs with total rear paralysis. Sometimes the back legs will drag, and sores will develop. Trouble with steps, and trouble with doorways, hallways, getting into a crate, etc. I don't think I would use one to prevent falls or because getting up and down is hard. I would consider it only for when walking is impossible. But I could be all wet on that.
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