I have scoured the internet for plans, and can't find what suits my needs. This is a matter of life and death for our family dog.
She is a mixed breed, weighing around 60lbs, and is 15 years old. She's too heavy to lift.
Her hind legs have lost almost all mobility, and she struggles badly while standing to potty.
My family members are unable to maneuver her around any more, and her quality of life is deteriorating rapidly. If I can't quickly build her a wheelchair we will have to put her down.
I am searching for a way to make a folding wheelchair that can stay on her almost all of the time, like some of the ones that you can buy. I have access to various materials, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Can anyone help me find or design plans for this? I'm not a talented engineer, and I don't trust my ability to design this by myself. I can build it from plans, and I have help.
Thank you in advance. Ginger really needs help please.. We love her so much, and I know she's got so much more in her..
Your Ginger is the same size as my golden retriever Merlin was when he went down in 2008. Boy, do I remember.
I will try to give you the very best answers I can. There may be other options I don't know about, but this is just what I am aware of.
The first thing is, as far as I know, the concept of a kneeling or collapsing wheelchair where the dog can lie down, is still more of a holy grail than an established fact. There are a number of major wheelchair manufacturers, and the only one I know of that produces a kneeling cart is Dogmobile. That one is supposed to be able to be operated by the dog himself, but I read in the past that it did not work as well for the dog as you might wish. I do not know anyone with personal experience, so I don't know how true that was, and to their credit they have been in business for a long time.
There is one on the market called the SitGo cart and it is getting very mixed reviews, which I think is more proof it just isn't easy to make a good cart that lies down.
I know you want to make one, but presumably if this was something easy to do, it seems like more major brands would offer them because it's such a good idea.
There is a member of this forum named Rich Bergins at Enabling Pets who came up with a design for a collapsing cart, where the collapsing is operated with assistance by the owner. You can pull two pins and the cart will lower for the dog to rest, without having to take him out of it. It can be used with a heavy dog. It's really a very smart idea. It depends on the owner being home, but you should never leave a dog in a cart unattended, so it is assumed the owner will be home.
If you are wanting a collapsing, lay-down cart, I think he would be the person to ask. Perhaps he would share his plans with you, I don't know. It says he applied for a patent for the design, and now his website looks like he is designing primarily for cats. I do not know how busy he is or if he would share the plans, but here is a link showing the cart he made, and also a link to contact him. The concept is explained very clearly, and the photos show a 105-lb dog both standing and resting in the cart. I think it is about as close as you can come to what you are after:
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=12985&p=67655&hili ... ets#p67655
A dog in a standard wheelchair (non-collapsing) may be able to rest by "parking" next to a bed of the right height. It needs to be something fairly high for a 65-lb dog. These pictures show shorter dogs lying on a dog bed in a wheelchair, I hope they will give you the idea. But here is an important thing to consider. A short-legged, long-bodied dog (Corgi, dachshund) can more easily rest because the long back allows them to recline better. A taller more square-built dog would have a harder time going down on her front legs in a wheelchair, and in many or perhaps most cases, they just can't do it. So when you see a picture of a dog reclining while in a wheelchair, you need to look at the dog and see if it is a dog built like yours or more of a weiner dog shape. My golden retriever would never have been able to rest in his cart. But I have definitely seen a picture of a large dog resting "parked" up against a piece of furniture of some sort. I'm sorry right now I can't think where I saw it, maybe these will give the idea:
The usual guideline is that a dog should not be in a cart for more than a couple of hours, and for a senior dog 30 minutes might be a lot. This guideline is getting pretty far away from what you are wanting to arrange for your dog...the ability to spend most of the day in a cart. I don't think most cart manufacturers would recommend that. There will be sores where her legs are in the saddle if she is not taken out and circulation restored after a reasonable time. You do not want her to get sores from lying down all the time, so being in a cart is a great idea, but you don't want her to get them from being too long in the saddle either, ideally a little of both would be good. If she does get a sore, then she will have to be out of the cart until it heals.
The issue is mainly the task or challenge of getting a 65-lb dog in and out of the wheelchair, so the desire to be able to put her in and let her stay most of the day is very understandable, but maybe not quite realistic. Here is a link to the hoist I made to get my dog in and out of his wheelchair, because I could not lift him. It is quite easy to make.
http://www.handicappedpets.com/mediawik ... _heavy_dog
I'm pretty sure what I've said so far is not really in line with what you are wanting to do to help your dog. There is one set of plans that may help you. I also know of two members of this forum who have not been here for quite a while, but they made great carts. All three are standard non-collapsing wheelchairs.
Randy made a fantastic, amazing wheelchair for his dog Ozo. He may be able to give you plans, but he has not been online for about 13 years so I don't know if he will reply. Here is the message with his email address, and the same page also has link to a webpage showing his dog in the cart he made.
There was another member here with a very large dog, and they made a really good homemade cart for him. The dog's name was Kid John. Here is a webpage showing the design with measurements. This cart is probably too big for your dog, but the plans might be helpful in designing one for Ginger.
https://www.handicappedpets.com/kid-joh ... -dog-cart/
We had another member here named rustybucket who made a really ingenious wheelchair out of a walker. It may not be exactly what you want for the long term, but it looks like you could put it together quickly and have something that works (in this video it works incredibly well) and that will give you time to build a more permanent solution.
I'm not sure the plans I gave here are quite what you want. But there may be another option. Here is a link to information about Wheelchairs on a Budget. There might be something else in it you would like.
One of the organizations on that list is Gunnar's Wheels. They lend out wheelchairs. From what I have heard there is a waiting list, but you never know until you ask. Maybe they will have one for your size of dog. Just for fun, here is a picture of Jason and Gunnar who posted on this forum, and his facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/Gunnars-wheels ... 164561706/
The other thing is, if you are lucky enough to have pet insurance on Ginger, some of the pet insurance companies will cover a cart, you might check what your policy says.
So...to kind of summarize, I have been there and I know the feeling that you need to do something and you need to do it right away. When my dog went down I was so desperate, I was trying to make a cart out of a golf bag carrier (good wheels but it didn't work).
I wish I knew of plans for a cart that lies down, but I'm not aware of one except for the one by Rich Bergins, and I would definitely contact Rich at the link above, he is a very fine person.
You want your dog to stay in the cart all day, and they recommend shorter time in the cart so her skin will stay healthy, but I do understand the challenges of putting her in and out more than once a day, because I lived alone and I could not lift my dog. Maybe the hoist will help with that. Using it takes a little time but not a lot, and it did get the job done. If you have a hoist, then you can use a standard wheelchair and it won't matter as much if you don't find the right plans for a kneeling cart.
You'd like her to spend most of the day in the cart. If you can't get one that lies down, my best suggestion is to come up with some piece of furniture she can roll up to and then rest her head and chest on. This will allow a very senior dog to spend a little longer time in the cart at one stretch, but the guideline about getting out of the cart to avoid saddle sores is still something to keep in mind.
It may be worth a few minutes to look over the list of other wheelchair options, and perhaps shoot Jason a message at Gunnar's Wheels and see if there is a waiting list for loaning out a cart for a 65-lb female dog.
One last thing, if you are thinking of making a cart with PVC, you may hear some people say it isn't strong enough. There is a wonderful company that makes PVC carts and in the past they made them for dogs up to 110 lbs, but you can see from this link in 2006 they decided 85 lbs was their limit because of the stress a large dog puts on a PVC cart. Now they are limiting them to 50 lbs, as you can see in the second link. Here is their statement about PVC and large dogs. I would trust them, if anyone knows, they do. You did not say what materials you were planning to use, you said you have a variety, so this information may not apply to you at all.
As an afterthought, since Ginger is not much over the 50-lb limit they recommend, I do not know...but maybe the PVC would work simply because a 15-yo dog is probably not going to run around and put extra stress on a cart, she will probably be pretty calm, so maybe it shouldn't be completely ruled out. I just made a wheelchair for a cat and I learned an important lesson that there are different thicknesses of PVC pipe. I accidentally bought the thin-wall kind without knowing it, it looked just like the regular stuff. Fortunately it worked out fine for a small cat, but you wouldn't want to make that mistake with a large cart.
If I find that photo of the large dog resting tomorrow, I will definitely post it.
I've messaged a few people that you linked, Carol, and I will continue to find information. You've been a huge help, and Ginger thanks you greatly.
I saw the reviews on Amazon about that cart and they were very mixed, some gave it a 5 some gave it a 1, but nowadays I no longer know how much to believe Amazon reviews since there have been news reports about how websites like Amazon and Wal-Mart get a lot of fake reviews. I am glad you are going to find out for real without risking anything. It would be great if you could post your own results with that cart, good or bad, because I don't think anyone here has tried it so far.
If in the end you decide it does not work (hopefully it will) there is one more thing I didn't mention, but I was just thinking about it. When my dog was losing his mobility, I first got him a 2-wheel cart, but it was not long before he needed the 4-wheel cart just because of the progression of his aging and health. So if you end up having to get a standard 2-wheel cart because the collapsing one is not performing to expectation, I would very much recommend getting one that can be converted to a 4-wheel later. So you are planning ahead just in case. Several major brands have that feature, where you can start with 2 rear wheels (like a normal dog wheelchair) but then you can attach a set of front wheels later if the dog needs it. The 4-wheel carts do not give a senior dog a lot of freedom because it takes more effort to move them, and by the time they need one they are not as strong as when they were young, but they are still good for the dog because he is happy being able to stand up and stretch his legs and not lie down all the time.
Anyway...I would love to hear how this works out, and I am glad you are doing it safely through eBay!