Dog harnesses are a great way of providing support and comfort to your best friend, especially when he is no longer as agile or as nimble as he used to be.
While some owners choose to walk their dogs using harnesses for behavioural or safety reasons, there are many older or injured dogs who need them for the tangible mobility benefits.
Quite simply: a support harness is one of the best ways to ensure your dog continues to lead an active lifestyle. And particularly if he is recovering from an injury, or beginning to show signs of physical or neurological decline.
We’re going to take a look at the types of dog support harnesses, and our pick of the best harness options: for rear, front and full-body support.
What Is A Dog Support Harness?
A dog support harness is a type of harness specifically designed to help dogs with mobility issues. These harnesses can provide extra stability and support for dogs who are struggling to walk or stand.
They are often used in conjunction with a wheelchair or walker, and can make life much easier for a dog who is having difficulty getting around.
Unfortunately our dogs can suffer from a number of mobility affecting issues as they get older, or if they suffer an injury.
The primary role of a dog harness is to help them maintain their independence and quality of life for as long as possible.
A dog that leads an active healthy lifestyle is normally a happy dog.
Types of Dog Support Harnesses
There are generally three types of harnesses available, and each is designed to treat a unique list of ailments.
The Front Harness
A front harness is the most common type of dog support harness. It is designed to help dogs who are having difficulty walking or standing.
The design of a front harness places all the weight of the dog on their chest and shoulders, which takes the pressure off their hind legs. This makes it much easier for them to walk and stand.
A popular version of this mobility aid is the Original Front End Harness by Walkabout:
This particular model has been recommended by vets and rehab specialists for over 30 years. It treats a variety of mobility-related issues, including arthritis, elbow dysplasia, DM and IVDD – as well as providing much needed support for older dogs who fatigue more easily.
The Rear Harness
A rear harness is specifically designed to help dogs with hind leg issues, including weakness and paralysis. The design of this harness spreads the weight of the dog evenly across their back, which helps with stability and movement.
Unfortunately there are several dog mobility conditions that start with hind leg weakness, including degenerative myelopathy or IVDD. A rear harness can provide much-needed stability before a wheelchair is required.
One of the most popular rear support options is the Balto Up range, which provides two rigid splints that provide an excellent level of support for your canine friend.
This harness is particularly useful if you want to encourage your dog to continue walking up and down stairs. It has height adjustable handles and a useful design that allows the dog to catch a bathroom break without messing up the harness.
Always a positive when it comes to cleaning!
The Full Body Support Harness
A full harness is a type of harness that supports the entire body of the dog. It is designed for dogs who are suffering from mobility issues that affect both rear and front legs.
This could be as a result of injury, old age or a variety of degenerative mobility issues.
A full body harness helps to keep the dog upright, compressing and straightening out the spine, and prevents them from falling over.
It is also great for dogs with balance issues, those suffering from progressive DM, or pups that are recovering from a back or leg related injury.
Several companies have viable full body support harnesses available, but the most popular is provided by Walkin’ Pets – a well known name in there dog mobility space:
As you can see, the harness fits snugly to provide support over both sets of legs. It is fully adjustable with sizes available for most breeds, and it’s also compatible with the majority of dog wheelchairs (including those made by Walkin’ Pets).
Would My Dog Benefit From A Harness?
If your dog is having difficulty with mobility, whether it be due to old age, an injury or a degenerative condition, then there is a good chance that they would benefit from using a support harness.
Does your dog appear comfortable while she is walking?
If your dog is having difficulty walking, it’s likely that she will not be very comfortable. This is because dogs rely on their movement to generate feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. If they are struggling to move around, they will not feel as good as they would otherwise.
Many owners will have forged a bond of many years with their beloved pet. You’ll be the first to notice changes in how your dog responds to the prospect of walkies – and whether he/she is moving with difficulty.
If you think that your dog appears less comfortable than usual, speak to a veterinarian.
Does your dog exhibit signs of fatigue after a short amount of time?
If your dog tires easily, then a support harness can help to take some of the pressure off those tired muscles and limbs. This will allow them to walk for longer periods without feeling exhausted.
Is your dog reluctant to walk or stand?
Dogs who are reluctant to walk or stand may do so because it is painful or difficult for them. A support harness can help alleviate this pain and make standing and walking much more manageable.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your dog would likely benefit from using a support harness. Speak to your vet or a specialist rehabilitation center about the best type of harness for your canine friend.