As many dogs get older, they encounter the same kinds of orthopedic problems and pains humans experience. A dog may suffer from spinal arthritis, have difficulty getting up from his bed, or become weak in his back legs. His hips may collapse when he tries to go up the stairs in your home, or his feet may no longer support his weight when he tries to go down the stairs. If it is no longer possible for your geriatric or handicapped dog to get from one floor of your home to the next or up a few stairs to the porch, you will need to help him.
Make an appointment with your vet to discuss a rear-lift walking harness. He may suggest a specific type that works best for your handicapped dog's specific problem.
Slide the harness under the dog's belly or chest, or if you are using a rear-end leash support, slide the dog's back legs into the loops. Stand on the side of the injury to provide the best support.
Lift up on the harness or sling to support weight as needed. Practice walking around the house before you attempt stairs. Let your dog get accustomed to having you support some of his weight. He may not understand how to walk at first.
Position your dog in front of the first step. Lift up on the sling or harness to relieve pressure from the dog's affected leg. Encourage your dog, and control his pace by providing treats as you go up the stairs. Reward him with a favorite treat as he navigates each step.
Encourage your dog to go down the stairs by lifting up the rear first, then check that his front feet are stable and square on the step. Be careful; if your dog is heavy, you could make a misstep and tumble down the stairs.
Zip open a gym bag with handles, and place the bag under the dog's belly, handle side up. Or improvise a support using a towel or blanket. Place the towel or blanket under the dog's belly or chest.
Bring the handles of the bag up and over the dog's back, or bring the ends of the towels or blanket up over the dog's hindquarters.
Lift up on the dog's rear end, and walk in the same manner as with a rear-lift apparatus.
If your dog is struggling to walk, don't pull or force the dog with a collar and leash.
Keep your dog's weight down to reduce stress on discs or joints.
Keep your dog's nails cut short.
Items You Will Need
- Sling or harness
- Gym bag or tote bag
- Towel or blanket
- HandicappedPets.com: Help Lift Dogs
- You and Your Dog; David Taylor
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Dogs' Disc Problems Can Be Treated