Dog Harness or Dog Wheelchair? Which is Best?

When a dog becomes paralyzed and can no longer walk, it’s often challenging to decide how best to help the dog. Of course, step one is visiting the vet and getting your dog the necessary medical care. But after that, how do you help your dog get back on its feet?

Simple daily tasks like bringing your dog for a walk or going outside so they can pee are no longer easy. A mobility aid, such as a dog wheelchair or a dog support harness, is the solution in many instances. But which one is best? 

Is a Dog Harness Better than a Dog Wheelchair?

Both a dog harness and a dog wheelchair have clear benefits. However, determining which is the best option for your dog depends on when they need the most help, how much support a dog needs to stay mobile, and how often the pet needs help. In many cases, a dog needs a lifting harness and a cart. 

Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchair
Rear Dog Support Harnesses
full support harness for senior dog a German Shepard model at the pond
Full Body Support Harnesses

Lifting Harness vs. Dog Wheelchair

1. When your dog needs help on stairs

pup French Bull Dog getting up his front stairs with a dog rear support leash assisted by his pet parent

A support harness is the best solution to help your dog climb up and down stairs. A mobility harness is designed to support your dog from underneath safely. In addition, the harness’s support allows pet parents to safely lift and control their dog as they help it on the stairs. 

 Dog wheelchairs are not meant to be used on stairs. A dog who is well adjusted to its cart may be able to take the cart down a few steps with assistance, but a harness is a much safer alternative on the stairs. 

2. Bringing your dog outside to pee

A lifting harness and a dog wheelchair are both great options to help your dog go outside to pee or poop. For dogs who need to get their exercise and go for a walk, a mobility cart is the best option for bathroom breaks.  A harness is best for a quick emergency trip outside or a short bathroom break. Many dogs will use a wheelchair and a harness for potty breaks depending on the situation. 

Dogs who use a wheelchair should choose a harness that is wheelchair compatible. This allows the rear harness to be used with the wheelchair and when you aren’t using the cart. 

3. Helping your dog in and out of the car

Example of lifting a large dog into back of van with front and rear harnesses

Getting a dog with weak legs in and out of the car is one of the biggest challenges. A lifting harness is a safe way to lift your dog out of the vehicle and give them a boost to jump into the car.

A support harness is a great way to help a handicapped dog in and out of the car, but it’s also a safe way to help senior pets who struggle with their balance and leg strength. Although your dog still wants to go everywhere with you, lifting an older dog (especially when it’s a larger breed) can be incredibly difficult. 

4. Supporting your pet on their daily walk

Corgi with mobility problems plays fetch while in wheelchair

A dog wheelchair is the best way to support a dog for long periods while encouraging them to exercise. While using their cart, a dog is fully supported and able to walk using all four legs, helping to prevent muscle loss and allowing them to rebuild strength. While your dog is walking in their wheelchair, its internal systems work, encouraging them to pee and poop while moving.

Additionally, your dog is moving independently. A mobility cart allows pets to move naturally, and you don’t have to worry about straining your back to support or carry them. 

In Conclusion

Most likely, your handicapped dog will need both a dog support harness and a wheelchair to stay mobile. Use a harness for dogs needing help climbing the stairs or getting into a car. A wheelchair is best for longer walks, to help your dog exercise, and to keep your pet active long term.

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