All of our Rear Support Wheelchairs are convertible into a Full Support Design. The typical case where this might happen is with a progressive disease such as degenerative myelopathy.
Degenerative myelopathy of dogs is a slowly progressive, non-inflammatory, and painless, degeneration of the myelin sheath that surrounds the spinal cord. It is most commonly seen in German Shepherds and Welsh Corgis, although is occasionally recognized in other breeds such as Boxers The cause is unknown, although genetic factors are suspected.
The early onset usually occurs later than age 5 and usually begins with a slight knuckling over of the rear feet. You will usually start to notice the toenails starting to wear a little sooner than usual. The knuckling over is due to an inability to sense where the limbs are in space. Some other signs seen during the early stages are progressive weakness in the rear legs, or tremors. You might also notice loss of muscle in the rear legs and difficulty rising. The most common symptom that we see in our DM patients that we fit for a wheelchair for the rear legs is the drunken gait.
During the early stages of DM are the most common times to use a dog wheelchair for assistance. A dog with rear limb weakness will often develop front limb weakness due to compensatory strain. In addition, during the early stages of DM stress and pain are not involved, and the help of a Rear Support Dog Wheelchair to support the rear legs, can improve the quality of life profoundly and limit the front limb strain noted.
Despite the improved quality of life that a dog wheelchair can provide during the early stages of DM, this disease is progressive, and will eventually effect the front limbs. You will start to notice a little more stress and anxiety in your dog. Be sure to keep your own stress level managed, as this can speed up the progression of this scary disease. Speak with your vet, and develop a plan for managed care, such as vitamin supplementation and physical therapy.
If, at this point, you and your vet should decide that your dog still has a strong desire to be mobile, and there is no pain involved, we can speak with you about putting a front end extension onto your current Rear Support Dog Wheelchair. The front end extension has a front support saddle, and a second set of wheels, with turning castors. See the Full Support Wheelchair page for more information.