a group of dogs with wheeled mobility devices take a walk with a human companion

Disabled Dogs And Cats – Amazing Mobility With Pet Wheelchairs And Water Therapy

by J. Lee

Wheelchairs and proven therapies have dramatically increased mobility for disabled dogs and cats. 

Some will enjoy life aided by wheelchairs while others will temporarily use wheelchairs to strengthen their muscles helping them towards mobility and independence.

Hydrotherapy, water therapy, physical therapy, massage therapy and acupuncture can also benefit them in their recovery. With available technologies their muscles can be exercised to help strengthen their fragile bodies.

There was a time when there was no hope for the critically injured fur babies among us. With today’s medical advances dogs and cats have a chance for a full recovery. If paralysis is the prognosis wheelchairs with customization are readily available for the smallest to the largest breeds.


Dogs visiting the sea shore in pet wheelchairs


cat walking with adaptive wheeled mobility device calico cat using wheeled mobility device for missing hind limbs


Although this story is about dogs and cats, wheelchairs help other animals from the smallest such as a goldfish to much larger Shetland ponies. More advances could be around the corner created by those with the mindset of ‘when there is a will – there is a way’. There is no stopping those with the gift of inventing as long as they seek solutions. The video 10 Animals in Wheelchairs proves how determination, ingenuity, creativity and brainstorming made the lives better for pet companions.

Video: 10 Animals in Wheelchairs: “10 of the cutest, most adorable animals using wheelchairs”

Showcased is a pig, a tortoise, a Shetland pony, a cat, a rabbit, a goat, a hamster, an alpaca, a dog and a goldfish.

HUFFPOST: These Dogs In Wheelchairs Aren’t Just Holding Their Own — They’re The Ones To Beat. And now, with the help of their wheels, these differently-abled dogs are proving they can play just as hard — if not harder — than everyone else on the field. We’re confident they’re just as lovable, too.

Water therapy  is another technique. Water is usually kept at 80-85 degree F to help decrease pain and relax muscles. Swimming pools or confined water tanks with underwater treadmills help dogs and sometimes other animals with joint problems and issues that affect mobility. Treadmills help to walk with a normal gait while helping to increase range of motion. It also helps strengthen muscles and heal tissues. Water buoyancy decreases pressure on the joints.

How Hydrotherapy and Swimming Can Benefit Dogs:  Hydrotherapy is beneficial for dogs who are recovering from an injury, dogs who suffer from degenerative joint disease and those who have been paralyzed.

Pools, treadmills, and water based therapeutic options are a welcomed trend in backyard pools to professionally managed pools. The water massage industry is growing and gaining momentum. Results from this type of therapy cannot be denied.

Recovery for pets uses both aquatic therapy and physical therapy without the use of water. Hydrotherapy is therapeutic focusing on exercise in the water with or without a submerged treadmill.  It is recommended treatments be provided by a veterinary physical therapist usually hired to help with rehabilitation after injury or surgery.

How Hydrotherapy for Dogs Works and Why It’s Worth It

How can hydrotherapy help? Hydrotherapy uses the properties of water — buoyancy, viscosity, resistance, and hydrostatic pressure — to enable a dog (or human) to move her joints. Water makes the body buoyant, so when submerged, the weight of the body is supported. This means the dog is not fighting gravity. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on the joints and this creates a much safer environment for recovery after surgery.

Benefits of hydrotherapy – Other benefits of water therapy include:

  • Water increases circulation, ideal for skin and coat.

  • Water can increase lymph drainage, rid the body of toxins, and improve the immune system.

  • Water can encourage better digestion and can promote balance and coordination.

  • Hydrotherapy can also help dogs who need to shed a few pounds. A great form of low-impact exercise, regular walks on the underwater treadmill or swimming in a pool can help promote weight loss and general fitness in dogs


Black Lab being provided therapy in a Hydrotherapy pool with human therapy assistant

Water therapy has been used in sports medicine and in some physical therapy clinics for years now. Why not consider it for our furry friends who suffer from an injury, have joint problems and paralysis? It is important to try all avenues of rehabilitation. It only takes one successful approach such as water, wheelchair, massage or acupuncture to aide in healing.

Luckily dogs are more receptive to many techniques. Humans can be resistant to alternative methods. Closed minds can hinder recovery. Thankfully dogs are willing to take the plunge especially when they trust their owners. Most of them welcome water therapy and see it as a game to look forward to.

Part Two Published on Oct. 17, 2017:

Disabled Animals Who Overcame Their Challenges Thanks to Their Human Angels (wildlife, livestock, birds and fish)


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