For those of you that already have a cart for your dog this isn’t anything you don’t already know. However, for anyone new coming to the site choosing the best cart for your dog can seem a little confusing. In my opinion it’s a case of too much information. When you first find out your dog has degenerative myelopathy and you decide you want to get a cart your search will inevitably lead you to Eddie’s Wheels. In my opinion Eddie’s Wheels carts are great for dogs with DM.
My only complaint about Eddie’s Wheels is that for a first time visitor to their website it’s a little confusing. To me it’s a case of too much information. As a beginner you at least know you need a rear wheel cart but when you arrive at the Eddie’s Wheels website and click on carts you soon discover that there is a Standard wheel cart, Neutral-Balanced cart, Fully Counterbalanced cart, and the Variable-Balanced cart. The only problem is, they all sound fantastic. Then you find the Eddie’s Wheels page specifically dedicated to degenerative myelopathy only to find out that it’s basically the same information. To the experts at Eddie’s Wheels this probably makes perfect sense but for a beginner it can all seem a little daunting. You just want some one to tell you exactly what cart will be perfect for your dog.
What cart is best for a dog with DM?
The quick answer is the Variable-Balanced cart. However, depending on your budget there are other options. I’m not going talk about all the available carts because I find that just confuses things. Instead, I’m going to give my opinion as to what is the best Eddie’s Wheel’s cart for a dog with degenerative myelopathy.
Standard Rear Wheel Cart
The standard rear wheel cart is for pets with normal strength in their front legs and shoulders who need assistance in the rear. Most dogs start out in standard rear wheel carts that allow them to take a normal stride, and are used as walkers. As they lose sensation in their feet, start “knuckling” and lose motor function in their back legs, they use the stirrups. The stirrups move with their forward motion, allowing the leg to swing in reciprocal movements, almost as if they were walking. Some dogs with DM experience weakness in their front legs and have difficulty with a standard cart at which point the cart can be upgraded to a Variable Balance cart or any of Eddie’s Wheels counterbalanced carts.. This cart removes up to 40% of the dog’s own weight off its front legs, making them lighter and stronger. Eddie’s Wheels doesn’t recommend counterbalanced carts for dogs at the onset of DM because removing so much weight-bearing from the front legs would have the effect of making them lose muscle mass in the front end. Any standard cart can be upgraded to be counterbalanced with the acquisition of new axles and a support strap.
This is the cart I used with Wrangler but as I mentioned above Eddie’s Wheels recommends starting with the standard rear wheel cart and upgrading to a counterbalanced cart later however if money is an issue and you can’t afford to upgrade later than in my opinion you can start directly with the Variable Balance cart.
Variable Balance Cart
The variable balance allows the owners to fine tune the cart, moving the wheels forward as the disease progresses to the front limbs. This cart fully supports the rear, with or without stirrups, and has adjustable weight bearing capability for dogs weak or weakening in the forelimbs. Adjusting the balance is done by simply screwing the axle bolt into another position to move the wheels. The full counterbalance position, with the wheels all the way toward the center of the cart, will take up to 40% of the dog’s weight off the front legs.
As the wheel is shifted further back, the dog bears a larger percentage of its own weight on his front legs. At the standard position, about 5% of the dog’s weight is added to front legs, making the cart track perfectly with the dog’s forward motion. This option gives the owner the ability to deal with the cart once, and change the balance of the cart without contacting us again for upgrades.
Detachable Training Wheels
As DM progresses and your dog starts to loose the ability to use it’s front legs you can purchase detachable front training wheels. They are positioned slightly off the ground, like bicycle training wheels, these front wheels provide balance and respite for dogs too weak to support themselves full time in the front end. These are used for long term symptoms of degenerative myelopathy when you dog is having a lot of trouble using its front legs.
If you have the money, start with with the Standard Rear Wheel cart and upgrade later to the Variable Balance and then add the detachable front training wheels. However, if money is an issue, start directly with the Variable Balance Cart.
Do you use an Eddie’s Wheels cart? If so which one, if not, what type of cart do you use? Would love to get your comments below.
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