For a dog who is experiencing hind end weakness and needs additional lift or support, the Walkabout Back Pet Harness is a great way to aid your dog in walking. Zuko weighed about 40 lbs at the time we purchased his, and a medium fit him fine. It was fairly easy to put on, and attached with velcro and a plastic quick release buckle. Below is another option of a good rear end harness from Handicapped Pets.
When Zuko developed early signs of what we feared was degenerative myelopathy (DM) where his back legs would just suddenly give out on him, we took him to a neurological specialist vet who told us there was nothing wrong with him. We knew different. After taking a tumble near the bottom of a flight of stairs one day, he became afraid of going down them even when we we had a tight grip on him. We had two flights of stairs that we had to take him up and down 4-5 times a day. One of us would carry him, but we were unable to hang onto anything other than our boy Zuko and were concerned that over time there would be a slip and fall accident. We originally purchased the rear end harness to help take him up and down stairs.
As time passed he developed hind end weakness and began knuckling over, and we used the rear end harness to walk him outside as well. Some dogs manage better than others with a rear end harness. If you experience difficulties, try using a front end harness at the same time. The back end harness has handles. You can attach a leash to the front end harness to guide and/and or lift with the leash at the same time. While going down flights of stairs it’s highly recommended that there are two people, so each can manage a harness and hold onto the railing, one standing behind the other with the dog to the left. One person can directly grab the front end harness and lift while the other person lifts using the back end harness.
Disclaimer: We are not veterinarians and are only giving helpful tips of what worked for us. Please always consult your veterinarian or animal rehabilitation specialist because depending on the health of your dog, lifting with a harness can cause complications and there is always the possibility it could cause chafing and bruising on some dogs. Also, please exercise safety when lifting a dog, especially going down stairs. Again, we are only sharing what worked for us and what was available to us at the time.
In our experience a front end harness also had to be used when we walked him outside, otherwise there was no way to navigate Zuko in a straight line, or control his movement if he suddenly decided to stop. It is possible for one person to manage both harnesses at one time on flat ground if your dog’s condition is in the early stages and your dog is not too large, but as the condition advances, it does require two people for distances longer than a few feet. Michael would grab Zuko’s front harness in his right hand and stand to the left of Zuko, and Donna would grab Zuko’s back harness with her left hand and stand to right of Zuko, so they were essentially walking on opposite sides of him. This helped as his condition worsened and more of his weight had to be supported. Then Zuko got his new Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair.
Repetitive usage of harnesses could over time cause you some aches and pains, so it is best at some point to invest in a canine wheelchair, and like we did, use the harness for the stairs. The wheelchair can go down a few stairs without a problem, but it is definitely not designed for flights of stairs.
Some people move a dog around indoors or in a yard by laying the dog on a strong blanket (or pet bed like we did), and then two people can pick up both ends and move the dog to the destination.
Handicapped Pets manufacturers a Pet Transport Stretcher (below) that accomplishes the same thing.
©1998-2018 Original Zuko the Dog
*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We are also a member of the Handicapped Pets Affiliate Program. Many of the recommended products we have had personal experience using in aiding our disabled dog.