So your dog needs a wheelchair, but you have other pets. You might be worried that your other companions will act strangely around the dog with the disability, or get outright hostile.
Don’t worry: that’s not very likely. We frequently build wheelchairs for dogs who have a pack—and the packs’ humans have told us that all the other animals get along fine.
This post covers cats and other dogs, since they’re the animals most likely to encounter a dog in a wheelchair. Check with your vet if you take care of a different animal.
How Dogs in Wheelchairs Get Along with Other Dogs
Dogs are remarkably perceptive about the condition of the dogs in their pack. They’ll notice if one of the pack has a disability, and what the pack needs to do to accommodate it.
“[Dogs] all get it—it’s really interesting,” Patricia Denys says.
Denys’s dog, Andy, is a Bichon mix. He’s six years old, and he’s had his wheelchair for a few years. Denys’s other dogs get along fine with Andy. She says they’re patient when Andy gets ready for the day.
“If we’re going outside or somewhere, the cart comes out first for Andy,” Denys says. “The rest of the dogs know that, and they see the day starting.”
The rest of the pack even keeps it together when Andy is getting ready for his walk!
“While we put him in the cart, [the rest of the dogs] have to wait, but they’re patient.”
So dogs in the same pack get along fine when a packmate gets a wheelchair. However, dogs that haven’t met your dog might have a bad reaction. You’ve probably met dogs at the dog park who get upset when they meet a dog wearing a vest or harness. That kind of dog will react the same way to a dog in a wheelchair.
How Dogs in Wheelchairs Get Along with Cats
Cats are very particular. (You may have noticed.) So they might be skeptical of the cart when you bring it home. Expect lots of sniffing.
But it’s most likely that your cat will get used to the wheelchair. That’s what happened with Denys’s cats. After the initial skepticism, your cat will continue to enjoy a good relationship with your dog—or the opposite of that, if your dog and cat have never gotten along.
We can help your dog with a disability get around again, but we can’t convince cats to do anything they don’t want to. Nobody can.