A dog wheelchair doesn’t come cheap, and it’s not always easy to find one that is perfectly suited to your best friend’s needs.
Thankfully, you can use various methods to create a DIY wheelchair for your dog. We’ll be honest here – you should understand that this process requires a lot of patience. It will also consist of trial and error; however, a DIY dog wheelchair can save you a considerable upfront investment.
And it may even turn out to be a better mobility aid for your dog than one of the commercial branded options.
Before getting into the details of how to build a dog wheelchair, it is first essential to answer an important question.
How Much Does a DIY Dog Wheelchair Cost?
There are a couple of affordable dog wheelchairs for sale; however, most are quite expensive. If your dog has unusual requirements, you might discover that you need to get a custom-built wheelchair, which comes with a hefty price.
An alternative to this is creating your own dog wheelchair for little to nothing.
Now, you should understand that you could choose to spend an arm and a leg on a DIY dog wheelchair; However, those with a budget in mind should be able to seamlessly make a dog wheelchair for about $60.
You can even make it at a cheaper price if you have some junk in your storage unit or garage.
At its most basic form, a dog wheelchair is simply a pair of wheels, a couple of sticks, and a harness or sling of some kind.
Typically, the wheels are the most expensive part of the wheelchair. You should be able to use the wheels from a piece of old lawn equipment or your kid’s toy, but there are other dedicated stores where you can buy custom wheels.
PVC piping is remarkably cheap and can work as a stick. You can even create a sling using a pair of jeans.
Nevertheless, you will likely create a better DIY dog wheelchair if you invest a little cash in quality materials and dog-friendly fabrics.
The Best DIY Dog Wheelchair Ideas
This section highlights some of the best DIY dog wheelchair ideas we’ve found.
Of course, you will be required to customize the device to suit your dog’s body and size. You could also choose to use different types of wheels or sling materials.
That’s the beauty of taking the DIY route – there’s much more flexibility.
You shouldn’t be afraid of tweaking the plans you see below to suit your dog’s needs.
Aluminium Dog Wheelchair
To make an aluminium dog wheelchair, you will need the following:
- Dimensions for your dog
- Sponge tube
- 6 bike flashlight mount
- 5 Aluminum tubes using your dog’s dimensions
- 2 wheels
- Plastic cap for aluminum tube
1. Measure your dog’s dimensions
The first step would be to get your dog’s dimensions down. When doing this, you should pay close attention to the radius of the rounded tube area (the external radius and internal radius of the tube).
2. Cut and bend the aluminum tube according to the measurements
You should be able to purchase the aluminum tube with the required size and bend. Customizing cutting and bending costs can vary, so factor this variation into your budget.
3. Drill holes into the tube
After bending the tubes, you should drill holes to create the fixture. You should drill the holes at the front and rear of the tube. Drill the holes one at a time to ensure that both holes are in line.
4. Use the bike mount and screws to assemble the frame
Use a bike flashlight mount and screws to assemble the wheelchair. The bike mount usually has a piece of rubber come with it, and You can use that to add friction force to the aluminum tube while you tighten it. Remember that you make the wheelchair stronger by using more bike flashlight mounts.
5. Set up the adjustable front handle
You can use a smaller-sized aluminum tube for the handle—drill holes in the tube to adjust it according to your dog’s length. You can use a plastic cap at the end of the aluminum tube to give it a finished look.
6. Use the sponge loops to hold the leg.
To achieve this, you need to get some Velcro and place it through your sponge tube. Tighten it to the back of the wheelchair, so your dog’s legs can fit it. Adjust the sponge tubes till your dog is comfortable. The device should be sufficiently strong; however, you can reinforce the structure by using tape.
Once done, you should be able to take your dog for a walk!
PVC Dog Wheelchair
PVC is another useful base material that can be used to create an effective dog wheelchair on a limited budget.
Here’s a couple of great examples we loved (including footage of the dogs enjoying them!):
Want to make your own?
You can make your own PVC dog wheelchair with around 24 feet of ½ inch PVC tubing, before adding wheels and padding for comfort.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to build a custom dog wheelchair in less than an hour using basic tools…
First measure the length of your dog’s body where his front legs are attached (for example, between his neck and hips) by wrapping the measuring tape under him while lying down on the ground. This measurement will be used to determine how long the PVC tubing needs to be cut.
Next, use a hacksaw to cut 4 pieces of PVC tubing to the following lengths:
- 2 pieces that are 2/3 the length of your dog’s body measurement (for example, if your dog’s body measurement is 18 inches, then each of these pieces should be 12 inches long)
- 2 pieces that are 1/3 the length of your dog’s body measurement (for example, if your dog’s body measurement is 18 inches, then each of these pieces should be 6 inches long)
Once all of the PVC tubing is cut to size, use a file or sandpaper to smooth any rough edges.
To create the frame for your dog wheelchair, use a PVC elbow joint to connect one end of each 2/3 length piece of PVC tubing together, leaving enough room at opposite end of the elbow joint so that it can be attached to a support stand (such as a table or chair).
Next, connect two 1/3 length pieces of PVC tubing on top of the 2/3 sections and attach them with another elbow joint at one end and an open connector at the other. This will create a rectangular shape resembling a sled that is sturdy enough to support your dog’s weight once padded properly.
Finally, add wheels to each end of your DIY dog wheelchair using plastic wheels that fit snugly inside the open connectors. If the wheels are a bit loose, you can secure them using nuts and bolts or a hot glue gun.
Then, add padding to your dog’s wheelchair by covering it with soft fabric or foam, like an old t-shirt or pool float for extra comfort and support.
With your custom DIY dog wheelchair complete, your pet should be able to move around easily again without any pain or discomfort from his injuries or mobility issues.
So whether you need help getting up stairs, climbing into cars, reaching far-off food bowls, or simply going for walks around the block, your furry friend will be back in action in no time!
General Tips for Building a DIY Dog Wheelchair
Regardless of what material you use, there are a few tips you need to bear in mind when creating a DIY dog wheelchair.
You should opt for a PVC cutter if you have the budget rather than simply using a saw.
Alternatively, you could rent a PVC cutter. While a normal handsaw can undoubtedly cut through a PVC pipe, a PVC cutter will do so much more efficiently. It will also produce smoother edges.
You can use PVC glue if you create a DIY dog wheelchair made from PVC; however, this isn’t necessary.
Most PVC couplings and pipes fit tightly enough together to stay put during normal use. The lack of glue can also help you quickly disassemble the chair when you need to travel. If you intend to use PVC glue, assemble the chair and ensure that everything fits and is in the right position before using PVC glue.
One of the trickiest parts of creating a custom dog wheelchair is finding good wheels, so you will have to be creative. You will often discover that you can find a great set of wheels and an axle by simply repurposing a relatively inexpensive wheeled product. You can consider garden tools, old kids’ toys, or skateboards.
When selecting the wheels and sling for your DIY dog wheelchair, you should consider the local climate. If you live in a location with a muggy and warm climate, you might want to consider using a mesh-based or breathable fabric.
These materials can help your puppy remain cool since they let his skin get some air.
You should cover all sharp items or exposed hardware on the chair.
Not only does this help protect your dog, but it also helps protect your walls and furniture from scrapes, scratches, and dings. If you are using casters for the wheels of your DIY dog wheelchair, you should consider making one a locking caster. This option enables you to immobilize your dog, a feature that becomes handy in certain situations.
If your handmade dog wheelchair seems to be tipping over, you can correct this by adding a bit of weight to the bottom of the chair. To do this, you will need to be creative.
One way to add more weight is to fill one of the PVC tubes with sand. When doing this, ensure the ends are properly sealed. It shouldn’t take that much weight to stabilize the DIY dog wheelchair.
How to Teach Your Dog to Use A Wheelchair
Many owners buy or build a wheelchair, then strap their dog in, only for their dog to just sit there… refusing to move.
While this can be quite frustrating, especially if you’ve spent a lot of money, there are a couple of things you can do to make your pup feel comfortable in its new chair.
Being comfortable will, in turn, cause your dog to begin pulling himself along.
Placing Your Dog in the Wheelchair
The first thing to do is introduce the chair to your dog calmly and reassuringly. Simply bring the wheelchair into the room and sit it right in the center of the room.
At this point, your dog should be investigating the chair, sniffing it. If your dog isn’t doing this, you can sit by the DIY dog wheelchair to provide additional encouragement.
Once the dog’s curiosity is satisfied and shows a lack of interest in the chair, you can pick up the dog and put it in it. You must do this quite slowly and ensure that your dog is resting comfortably.
You might want to lean back a bit to create a relaxed posture (dogs tend to take a lot of cues from their owners). Give your dog time to acclimate to the wheelchair. This process might take a couple of minutes, so be patient before moving on to the next stage.
Note: do not remove your dog from the wheelchair even if it begins to complain and struggle. First, double-check to ensure that nothing in the chair makes it uncomfortable. It might pull at your heartstrings seeing your dog uncomfortable, but you need to remain strong and keep your pup strapped in.
Doing otherwise simply reinforces the fact that you will let it out if he just complains.
It might take about 15 or more minutes for your dog to eventually calm down and embrace the wheelchair.
Consider it 15 minutes well spent if your dog is now able to explore and burn off some energy.
Getting Your Dog Used to a DIY Dog Wheelchair
Even if your pup remains in the wheelchair without complaining, it might still be necessary to teach your dog how to move around, as it isn’t something that it might intuitively figure out.
The most effective way this can happen is simply getting up and moving to another room. Doing this could make your dog follow you by simply using its front legs; However, once it learns that the wheels will carry its back half, you’ll have your dog using the DIY dog wheelchair in no time.
Nevertheless, some dogs won’t budge at all. They will simply sit there stubbornly. In certain instances, you will want to get a tasty treat and use that treat to bribe your dog into moving.
Alternatively, you could tie some string to the front of the DIY dog wheelchair and then manually pull your dog forward. This motion will likely cause your dog to begin walking with its front legs, which, in turn, speeds up the entire process.
This process will require trial and error, so do not be afraid to keep trying till your dog is convinced to use the DIY dog wheelchair.
Other Cheap Alternatives to Dog Wheelchairs
The good thing is that DIY dog wheelchairs aren’t the only ways you can help your injured or disabled dog move around. There are a plethora of alternatives that can help you move your dog from one place to another. A few of the most notable products are:
You could use hundreds of things to help your pooch love around better. While none of them will work as effectively as a pet wheelchair, you could repurpose some items by altering them.
For instance, you could use an old-fashioned wagon to wheel your dog around the park or neighborhood. Additionally, you could use a wheelbarrow; however, you need to carry your dog up and put it inside the wheelbarrow. This alternative might not be great for those with larger dogs.
You could simply be creative, using just about anything with wheels. A mechanic’s creeper could work if you tie a rope to it. Alternatively, you could strap a milk crate to a hand truck.
If you live in a climate that gets a lot of snow, you might not even need wheels. You can simply get a snow sled and drag your dog around.
If you prefer simply wheeling your dog around, but you don’t want to go through the trouble of creating a DIY dog wheelchair, you could instead get a dog stroller.
Dog strollers work on the same principle that human ones do. Simply place your dog in the “cockpit” and push them along. There are design differences between a baby stroller and a dog stroller, as a dog stroller has a different cockpit to make the dogs comfortable while they ride in it. Furthermore, many others feature screened canopies to stop your dog from jumping out.
Dog Slings or Purses
A sling or carrying purse might be a great option if you have a small dog. Most slings do not only provide a wonderful way for you to carry your dog, but they can also be functional and fashionable. Most of the best dog slings are equipped with pockets that you can use to carry treats and other things you might want to have with you when you carry your dog.
Backpacks are perhaps one of the most effective ways to help a mobility-impaired dog move around. Dogs typically love moving around their owner’s back this way. It can be a great way to carry even moderately heavy dogs because you can seamlessly support your dog’s weight using your back, chest, and shoulders.
When it comes to the dogs you carry using this method, ensure not to overdo it, as carrying too much weight on your back could cause you to become hurt. There are dozens of various backpack carriers available on the market, so take your time to pick the one that best suits your needs.
Even if you make the best DIY dog wheelchair possible, you will still need to find a way to get your dog up and down the stairs. And while it might be easy to pick up a chihuahua and carry it up the stairs, it might be difficult to do the same with a German Shepherd.
It would be much better to use a sling or a harness.
There are a plethora of various lift harnesses on the market, and various models have been created to assist in other ways. For instance, certain harnesses have been created to offer support for the back or front of your dog’s body, while others are created to provide full-body support to dogs unable to use their back or front legs.
You can simply head to the internet to find the lift harness that best suits your needs.
Final Thoughts on Making Your Own Pet Wheelchair
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter the type of DIY dog wheelchair you create for your dog. It could be one made from aluminum or PVC.
Regardless of the material you choose, the most important thing is that your dog gets the help it needs to move around easily. Moving around can be the key to ensuring your dog doesn’t become frustrated or depressed.