By the end of this article I am convinced you’ll know why you need a pet stroller.
Why I would never be without one
When I first started seeing pet strollers, I admit I wasn’t crazy about the idea. To me it looked like nothing more than people wanting to show off their cute dogs, like a new accessory. Of course there are still those who treat them that way, but a pet stroller is so much more…indispensable in most cases I would say.
Here are 3 examples of how important a stroller is to me
Red is a 16 year old (approximately) blind Chihuahua/Min Pin cross we adopted 8 years ago. She’s able to walk, but not far and not for long. If we didn’t have a pet sitter we would take her with us on day trips, and my husband and I would take turns carrying her. She only weighs 9 lbs, but after a short while it soon felt like 50.
A few years ago I got it into my head that I needed a pet stroller for her, and I can only say I wish I had thought of it earlier. I can’t count the number of times we’ve used it, and how much easier and better it has made our lives. We’ve gone to the beach, I’ve used it when I wanted to do some power walking, and taken it on buses and trains to festivals and dog events.
Jack is the first young dog we’ve ever had, and sometimes I join Jack and my husband when they go to the fields for a run around – yep sometimes they both run!! Anyway, after about an hour of that, especially if it’s a summer day, Jack is too hot and tired to walk all the way home, so he hops in the stroller until he re-charges, then walks the rest of the way…or not.
Unfortunately a few months ago he developed a different type of need for the pet stroller. On August 22, 2016 Jack went from walking to paralysed in a matter of hours. Emergency spinal surgery was followed by 8 days in the hospital, then strict instructions not to move. He was allowed out 5x a day, for 5 minutes and that was it.
Being such an active dog, I don’t want him to become depressed or frustrated, which is not fair to him, and I believe would hinder his recovery. With the neurologist’s permission I took him out in the stroller twice a day to see his two legged and four legged friends. I made sure it was low key so he would remain calm, and being out of the crate really perked him up.
These are just 3 examples of how much I rely on my pet stroller, but keep reading for a host of other uses.
21 reasons why you need a pet stroller
No more guilt
Of course you’re going to leave your dog alone sometimes, it’s not healthy to never leave their side. But…when he’s left behind on a family day out because it’s too hard to bring him along, a pet stroller will change all that.
Senior dogs/arthritic dogs
Your dog may still be able to get around, just not as much as before – enter a pet stroller. Let your dog walk as long as he is able, then when he’s had enough, put him in the stroller. You both get exercise, a chance to enjoy fresh air and a change of scenery.
Festivals and large gatherings
If you’ll be at a large gathering such as a festival, keep him safe in crowds by putting him in a stroller. Little dogs can easily get stepped on, and even lash out when hurt, avoid confrontations with aggressive dogs, and keep him away from spilled drinks and dropped food that can make him sick.
Recovering from surgery, illness or injury
It can be very tough, and depressing being stuck in the house, and even more so for an active dog. He may not be allowed to walk, but he may be able to roll…smoothly. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise, so ask your vet if it’s safe to take him out in a stroller. Left in the house to get depressed and frustrated will not help your dog (or cat) recover.
Big city living
If you live in the heart of an extremely busy city with packed sidewalks, walking a dog can be challenging, especially if he’s small or nervous. Use a stroller to get to the park or quiet area, then again when you’re heading back into the chaos.
Human with mobility issues
A dog’s human may have mobility issues, even temporarily, and find it difficult to take the dog out as often as they would like. Hopefully kind family, friends and neighbours are offering to walk the dog, but a stroller may help you get out with him at times as well.
If you live within walking distance of your vet, how easy is it to put your dog in the stroller, and take a walk? Exercise for you, no dealing with traffic, and environmentally friendly!
Even if you’re driving carriers are heavy, sometimes too heavy for some people to lift. Use the carrier for safe travels in the car, then transfer him to the stroller from the car to the office. Then when you can’t find a parking spot close to the entrance, it won’t matter.
No more excuses not to exercise!
You have to walk your dog anyway, but if he can’t walk for long, or at the pace you’d like, bring the stroller with you. When he’s had enough, you can carry on. Why end your workout early?
To learn more about the importance of exercising our dogs (according to their abilities obviously!) this article written by Susan Nelson, Kansas State University veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences, will be of interest.
Multi dog households
One dog is going this way, the other that way; one is a speed demon, the other more sloth like. Another scenario that has “dog stroller” written all over it.
One quick point – if your dogs don’t walk nicely on a leash together, one on one leash training will help.
If you’re off for a few days with the dog, a folding pet stroller is perfect. In and out of the car, unfamiliar sights and sounds, long days sightseeing, and some time spent people watching at an outdoor café. A stroller is perfect for any scenario!
More quality time for you and your pup
If your dog is in a stroller, it is more likely places that would not normally allow a dog, will be okay with this set up. Some shops are cool as long as you carry the dog, and don’t put them on the floor. Have you ever carried a dog while trying on shoes or clothes? I have, a 10 lb dog, and it was not easy. Another reason to get a pet stroller.
Transporting foster puppies or kittens
If you foster puppies or kittens and are constantly back and forth to the vet or shelter, you know how heavy a carrier can get. Imagine how much easier it would be to wheel them around?
Traveling on a boat or ferry
Some dogs don’t like the feel of the gangway surface (I know Jack doesn’t), and short of dragging them (which you should never do by the way!!), a stroller is the solution. If being on a boat is a new experience, a stroller can give him a feeling of security and make it a more pleasant voyage for everyone.
Take your dog to work day
If your workplace has a “take your dog to work day” or you run your own business, a stroller will give your dog a den to rest in, and stop him from running riot. It’s also easier to wheel in what you need, than to carry a bed, blankets and supplies.
Visits to friends and family
If you’re visiting anyone with other pets or small children that may annoy your dog, the stroller will serve as a nice little escape.
I have seen many people on public transportation with crates, on their way to the vet. Imagine how much easier it would be if they had a stroller. We’ve been using public transport recently, back and forth the hospital and vet appointments with Jack. The taxi bills were mounting, as are the vet bills, so the bus and train are comfortable, cheaper options.
We know what burning hot concrete feels like on our feet…that’s how it feels on your pets’ paws. Have you ever seen a dog react to salt on an icy pavement? Ever tried putting booties on them? Some dogs are happy wearing them, but of course mine are not!
Evacuation in case of emergency
Whatever the emergency, if you find yourself in a situation where you have to evacuate, a stroller may be the safest way to transport your pet. Your otherwise calm dog or cat can get pretty scared – attaching the safety clasp to the harness (found in most strollers), then zipping the stroller up completely, will keep him secured.
Taking an indoor cat…out
If you have an indoor cat, you’re probably always looking for ways to prevent boredom. Unless you’ve trained him to walk with a harness, a stroller is a great way to give him a change of scenery and some fresh air. Make sure the stroller you buy doesn’t have gaps he can escape through, and test how well he handles it indoors first. Put a harness on him, and clip it to the tether in the stroller for added safety.
Protection from the sun
Heatstroke is no laughing matter, and too much time spent outside in extreme temperatures, can be dangerous. A stroller will allow your dog to get some much needed exercise, and keep him safe from being out too long in the sun.
Meet new people
It’s true! Some people use a pet stroller as a way to meet new people, and I can say from experience it works. I can’t keep track of how many people stop us when we’re out, ask about the dog… Perfect if you’ve just moved to a new place and don’t know anyone, or you’re a bit shy approaching someone new. This is the perfect ice breaker.
Styles and types of strollers
4 wheel – 3 wheel (basic and jogger strollers) – foldable (most fold but if it’s an important feature, be sure the model you’re looking at does)– convertible (converts into a carrier, car seat and even a bike trailer) – double (side by side or double decker)
Features vary depending on type and style of stroller, but they can include:
- Mesh panelling for air circulation and greater visibility
- Padded handle for comfort
- Fold down canopy that zips closed for security and protection from the elements
- Cushioned pad for comfort
- Cup holder(s) and tray for things like keys, phone, snacks…
- Roomy storage basket underneath
- Locking rear wheels
- Safety clasp that hooks onto a collar or harness and acts as a tether
- Front and rear entry
- Foldable (with clip to prevent accidental opening)
How to choose the best pet stroller
Choosing the right stroller is not complicated, but it does require a bit of thought before making a purchase.
What size do you need?
Take some measurements of your pet. We never think it’s necessary because we’re sure we can eyeball them and know. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t!
Too small and your dog will be squashed, too big and he could be sliding around.
If you are buying a stroller for a puppy, unless you want to buy more than one to accommodate her growing size, buy the size appropriate for her as a full grown dog, and add a bed or some blankets so she’s not lost in there.
Weight of pet
Strollers have weight limits, so if you put a 30lb dog in a 20lb stroller, you risk damaging the stroller, and possibly injuring your dog if it collapses.
If your dog’s weight is at the maximum of the weight limitation, look for the next size up.
What will you use it for?
Jogging or hiking will require a different stroller than a walk around your neighbourhood of paved sidewalks.
How many pets will use it at once?
If you have two pets using it at the same time, a single compartment stroller may be enough, depending on their size. Alternatively a side by side or dual compartment may be the solution.
Features and options
There are many handy features and options so think about their benefits to you.
- Storage baskets
- Bottle holder(s)
- Trays for treats, snacks and cell phones
- Wheel locks
- Collapsible (with a clip to prevent it opening)
- Safety tether that attaches to collar or harness
- Mesh panels to keep out bugs and provide lots of air circulation
- Adjustable/folding sun shade or canopy
- Padded handle
- Height of handle – is it adjustable
- Zipper or zipperless
- How many entry points
Would you like to be able to walk on pavement, rough terrain and jog with your dog? One stroller may not be able to serve all purposes. The best thing to do is find the jogging stroller first, because a basic one for strolls in the park won’t do. Even if the jogger doesn’t suit all requirements, you can find a very inexpensive basic one for your neighbourhood walks.
Consider your budget
There is such a wide range of prices, you’re bound to find one that fits your budget. Nothing wrong with buying the least expensive option, but consider how often you’ll be using it and the quality of what you’re looking at. As we’ve all experienced, the cheapest can turn into quite an expense.
Your pet’s behaviour
You may know your pet well, but still have no idea how he’ll react to a stroller. Check for spaces he may be able to squeeze out of, put a harness and leash on when out, and attach the in stroller tether to the harness. Buy one that can be zipped up for extra security.
Try it out for the first time in your house, then backyard. If he’s okay, do a test run with a short walk around the neighbourhood before you go too far afield. As a precaution, I hold onto the leash when pushing the stroller, just in case. If something does happen you have a good hold on him.
Why you need a pet stroller – conclusion
Whether or not pet strollers really started off as another way to turn your dog into an accessory is not something I have an answer for. What I do know is how much it can improve a senior dog’s quality of life, help those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, help keep you fit, protect paws and so much more.
I speak from personal experience, so believe me when I say what a lifesaver my pet stroller has been. From being able to include my senior dog Red in our outings, to taking Jack out while he recovers from spinal surgery, a pet stroller has been one of the best things I could have done for my dogs.
So was I right… do you now know why you need a pet stroller?