PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin' (Part I)

by Susan E. Davis, PT “pull in for a helpful refuel!”  

It’s all about guiding and empowering you to help your pet avoid injury, provide practical solutions and achieve rapid restoration of health and function!   

Are there certain topics you avoid because they draw controversy each time you bring them up?  

For example: politics, religion, weather, the Yankees ... well, for me that topic is wheeled carts.

I literally draw a deep breath and steady myself whenever I feel the necessity to address this with clients. I never know what to expect: from utter horror to joyful hugs and everything in between!

I’ve even been “sacked” for daring to suggest carts to some pet owners! But that never stopped me.

Front wheel cart. Photo Eddie's Wheels

What’s the big deal, you ask? 

Isn’t this a wonderful gift of mobility for pets? Yes, it definitely is, but some folks feel it signals the beginning of the end, that I have no hope for their pet.

Others think moving with wheels is unnatural for an animal. By no means have I given up on a dog I might suggest a cart for. After all, I’m not suggesting they be euthanized, rather offering a practical solution to keep the dog active and happy! “But it’s not natural!” is equally false, because it isn’t natural for a dog to be immobile!

The cart’s purpose is to allow assisted mobility and continued “walking” after a major disability or disease causing weakness, pain, or paralysis. 

Standard Rear Wheel Cart. Photo Eddie's Wheels

Cart walking can be recreational, when a pet has the ability to walk on their own power indoors or in small contained spaces, but lacks the balance or endurance needed to walk out in the open community for longer walks.

Cart walking can be functional, when a pet is unable to stand and support themselves moving from room to room, using food bowls, or to relieve themselves.

Cart use can be considered therapeutic when it is not practical for function, but it allows a way to help maintain muscle tone and support a level spine, allowing the joints to relax while in an upright position. In such cases, the dog may be able to use their muscles to assist while their owner helps pull the wheeled cart.

Carts can be rehabilitative, providing a way to safely exercise during recovery from injury or illness. Resistance is provided by the owner or therapist holding lightly on the cart, by attaching therabands or cords, and having the pet navigate the cart up and down a hill or incline.

Counterbalanced Cart. Photo Eddie's Wheels

Here’s the latest information with my tips and recommendations to help you choose wisely in the event your dog may benefit from wheels. 
Components of carts include the frame, saddle, wheels, axel, yoke, slings or support straps and stirrups.

Look for carts that are custom built with durable materials, and have ergonomic biomechanical design, aligned closely to a dog’s anatomy.

Types of carts include
  • Standard 2-wheeled carts
    Either rear or front-wheeled, used when one set of limbs is paralyzed or amputated and the intact set of limbs are free of issues

  • Neutral-balanced carts
    When the neck and forelimbs have issues and it is desirable to ensure that no load is added to the pet’s front end

  • Counterbalanced carts
    Useful when all limbs are affected with significant forelimb weakness and de-loading is needed

  • Variable axel carts
    Allowing you to move the wheel position from neutral to counter balanced to fully counter balanced, good for progressive disorders like DM

  • Quad Carts/ 4 wheeled carts with head/ neck rest
    For severely compromised pets needing complete support, offering front turning wheels  and towing handle.  Note that reverse quad carts are also possible, having rear turning wheels. Cart add-ons can include extra chest and belly straps, detachable front or rear training wheels, etc.  

The finest carts are made by Eddie’s Wheels for Pets. No other brand comes close.  In fairness, I will list several major wheeled cart companies in part II. They are all to be applauded for their efforts to help pets with disabilities and some make decent carts, but I am confident in my endorsement of Eddie’s as the best of all, by far.


Susan E. Davis (Sue) is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 30 years of practice in the human field, who transitioned into the animal world after taking courses at the UT Canine Rehabilitation program.  She is located in Red Bank, New Jersey.

She has been providing PT services to dogs and other animals through her entity Joycare Onsite, LLC in pet’s homes and in vet clinics since 2008.

She also provides pro bono services at the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, NJ.  Sue is the proud “dog mommy” to Penelope, a miniature Dachshund with “attitude”.  For more information see her website , or follow on Twitter @animalPTsue.

Sue is also the author of a fantastic book on physical therapy, Physical Therapy And Rehabilitation For Animals: A Guide For The Consumer.  

Physical therapy can do so many great things for your dog. Understanding all the possibilities physical therapy can offer will change your dog's life. This book definitely belongs on the shelf of every dog lover.

Articles by Susan E. Davis:
Functional Strengthening Exercises: the What, Why and How
One Thing Leads To Another: Why The Second ACL Often Goes Too
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony
Paring Down to the Canine Core
Canine Massage: Every Dog ‘Kneads’ It”
Photon Power: Can Laser Therapy Help Your Dog?  
Physical Therapy in the Veterinary World  
Reiki: Is it real? 
Dog Lessons: Cooper  
The Essentials Of Canine Injury Prevention: 7 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safer 
It's Not Just Walking, It's Therapy! 
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part I)
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part II Physical Therapy)
Range Of Motion: It’s A Matter Of Degree…
The Weight Of Water And How It Helps Dogs 
By Land or By Sea? A Comparison of Canine Treadmills 
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part I)
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part II) 
Scar Tissue: Is it Too Much of a Good Thing? 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ramps! 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Indoor Duo Dog Exercises!
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ideas to Chew on - Can Physical Therapy Help with my Dog’s Digestive Problems?
Wrap It Up: Using Soft Supports For Your Dog
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part I) 
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part II) 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Safe Summer Boating Tips for your Dog 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Hip Dysplasia - What’s a Dawg Mama to Do? 


  1. What a fantastic article, Susan! Bravo! I can't say enough good about Eddie's Wheels either. They make excellent carts and they truly care. In fact, they are the only company I recommend. I also work with them and my Frankie Wheelchair Fund which grants wheelchairs to paralyzed dogs such as dogs in families who are in a financial stress situation, or dogs in rescue that need a wheelchair. I'm honored to have helped over 30 dogs so far.
    I had two dachshunds in wheelchairs. When my first doxie went down from an IVDD diagnosis, I couldn't bear the thought of her being in a wheelchair. Wow, what a difference it made in the quality of her life when I accepted this could help her. We had the most amazing journey together!
    Over the years, while she was still alive, I encountered a few people who thought it "unnatural." Especially when they found out I had to express her bladder. They felt it inhumane. My response always was that we wouldn't think that of a human in a wheelchair, so why would we a pet?
    If we can help our pets live longer, happier, quality lives, then I'm all for it. They give us so much in return.
    Thank you again for the great article - will look forward to part 2.
    Barbara Techel
    Founder of National Walk 'N Roll Dog Day and The Frankie Wheelchair Fund


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