How to Make a Wheelchair for a Dog

By Jennifer Lyons

If you have a handicapped, elderly or special-needs dog, it may need a wheelchair in order to move on its own. Buying a wheelchair for your dog from a manufacturer is expensive, because each one needs to be custom made for the individual animal. Fortunately, you can make your own. A wheelchair will give your dog the ability to go for walks, play and eat on its own again.

Construct the Frame

Choose your material. If you have a large or heavy dog, a metal frame works best. For a smaller dog, PVC works well and is light so the dog can easily pull it.

Cut the pipe. Measure the length of the dog from its chest to just before its back legs. Cut two lengths of pipe this length. If you are using metal or don't have a saw, have your measurements ready and most hardware stores will cut the pipe for you. Measure the height of the dog to about the middle of its torso. From this number, subtract the radius of your wheel, then add one inch. Cut two pieces of pipe this length. Measure the width of the dog then add one inch and two times the diameter of your pipe. Cut two lengths of pipe this length.

An elbow fitting normally has a one or two inch bend.

pipe fitting image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com

Attach the pipe fittings. Use an elbow to attach each length-of-dog pipe to a height-of-dog pipe (if your elbows have a large bend, you may need to slightly adjust the lengths to account for it). They should fit snuggly, but you can use superglue to make them more secure. Place the 90 degree angle, the center connector, of each of two T fittings on the ends of one of the width-of-dog pipes. Slide each straight side of the T fittings onto the height-of-dog pipes, connecting them together so the length-of-dog pipes are parallel. Wait to glue this pipe into place until you put your dog in the wheelchair. This is the pipe the dog will be resting on. Then put an elbow on each end of the other width-of-dog pipe, and use them to attach the ends of the heights together. Attach the 90 degree angle of the other T fittings to the front of each length of dog pipe. This is the front of the frame.

Attach the wheels. Drill a hole in each elbow on the ends of the lower width-of-dog pipe. You want to try to drill the holes as close to the center of the pipe end as possible. Cut the dowel so it is long enough to pass through both holes and stick out on each side 1 inch plus the with of the wheel. This is the axle. Pass it through the holes and the lower width-of-dog pipe. Attach a wheel to each end.

Pad the frame. Use water pipe insulation to pad the support width-of-dog pipe. You can put on a couple layers of insulation to make it more comfortable for the dog. If the dog is male, cut a dip in the center of the insulation to account for gender-specific parts. Wrap the elastic bandage around the insulation, sticky side down. Pad the front end of each length-of-dog pipe, by the T fitting, so it does not rub against the dog's shoulders.

Add the Harness

Cut two lengths of elastic two times the width of the dog, plus a few extra inches. Most plastic buckles are adjustable, so it does not need to be perfect.

Attach the elastic to the frame. Loop one of the lengths of elastic down through the left tee fitting (when facing the front of the frame) and up through the right tee fitting. This strap will go around the front of the dog. Loop the other elastic around the two length of dog pipes so it is parallel to the width of dog pipes. This strap will go over the dog's shoulders.

Add the buckles. Use the buckles to attach the ends of the elastic pieces together so you have two complete loops. You can trim any extra elastic off. To finish the ends of the elastic so they do not fray, hold a lighter close (but not touching) to the end. The heat will melt the elastic and form a hard end.

Make a belly harness. If you have a large dog, take some extra elastic or a strip of fabric and sew it into a large loop with its ends attached by a buckle or hook-and-loop fastener. You can use this to help lift your dog into the wheelchair by placing it around the dog's stomach and pulling it up over its back. This is not necessary for a small dog if you can easily pick up your dog's back legs.