If I had to choose one thing that has made a huge difference in my life and the life of my senior dog, I would have to say it’s a pet stroller. Although we would never have left Red behind on a day trip (unless we had a pet sitter), having the dog stroller made it a lot easier to include her. I highly recommend every senior dog parent purchase one, but it turns out our stroller had another use I never could have foreseen.
Almost 2 years ago my dog Jack became paralysed quite suddenly, meaning within the span of just a few hours. During his recovery he was only allowed 5 minute walks, but I also wanted to make sure he wouldn’t get bored or start feeling depressed. With the permission of the neurologist I took Jack out every day in the stroller, making sure we stopped in to see some of his favourite humans along the way.
He’s now fully recovered, but when he’s running around on a hot day he’ll often take a break by lying underneath it in the shade it creates. He has also been known to hitch a ride part of the way home until he gets his second wind!
You may have already started looking for a pet stroller and become somewhat overwhelmed by the number of styles and options available, or you have yet to start because you haven’t a clue where to begin. Either way I’ve got you covered.
I’m going to be discussing the various features you’ll find in a pet stroller as well as things to be aware of, to help you choose the best one for your senior dog. The more features it has, the more beneficial it will be.
Weight the stroller can accommodate
Do follow weight guidelines, as the frame has to be able to offer enough support. If your dog is at the recommended weight or even just below it, I would play it safe and buy a bigger size.
Size dog it can accommodate
Weight and size are 2 different things. While the stroller may accommodate your dog’s weight, not all dogs who weigh the same have the same measurements!! I suggest measuring from his nose to his tail, and his width, then check the interior dimensions of the stroller.
How does it look?
Nothing wrong with having a nice looking stroller if that’s important to you, so it’s good to know there are various colours and prints to choose from.
Ease of folding
You will absolutely want your dog stroller to fold for ease of storage and ease of use. Most need two hands to fold it, some just one.
Be sure the stroller you choose is sturdy and can accommodate the size of your dog. The last thing you want is to be miles from home with a broken axle or a cracked wheel, and a 40lb dog you couldn’t possibly carry.
Handle height and placement
Is the handle height comfortable? If not is it adjustable? Some have the option, others do not. Placement refers to how far the handle sticks out, and if it’s far enough so you don’t kick the back wheels when walking, especially at a faster pace.
How easy is it to push?
Pushing an 8lb dog on a paved path is one thing, but what about an 85lb dog over rough terrain? Too much hard work, and no one will benefit. How easy will it be to jog or do off road walking with a dog inside? A lot of that will be down to the weight of the stroller itself and the type of tires.
Sometimes a stroller is just a stroller, but other times it can also be a bike trailer, car seat or even a pet carrier.
A canopy is an important feature that will protect your dog from the sun, rain, even bugs. Having one that folds means options – keep it open so your pup can enjoy the beautiful weather and have a great view, but when it becomes too hot, it offers shade while still allowing him to see.
I love this feature and it’s one my pet stroller has. There is an area on the canopy that is mesh with a Velcro flap, which not only provides an extra source of ventilation when the canopy is closed, it also means I can check on my dog easily without stopping. No need to open the entire canopy, or walk around to the front of the stroller.
Amount and quality of mesh
More mesh means more breathability, and a better view for your dog if he’s too small to see out the top or if he’s lying down. Pay attention to the sturdiness of the mesh, too thin and he can claw it and tear it.
Enclosing the stroller
I would say most strollers have the option of completely enclosing it, and I like that for a couple of reasons. One being added protection from the weather, the other for safety to prevent him from jumping or trying to jump out. When open the canopy attaches to the stroller with a zipper or non-zip option.
How many points of entry
Some strollers have one way to put your dog in and that’s through the top, others also have a rear zippered entry. This is particularly handy if you have a bigger dog, or you are unable to lift him. If it’s low enough to the ground your senior dog may be able to walk right in, but if he can’t a small step will help.
A leash attached to the stroller, it’s a great safety feature should your dog get anxious and try and jump out, or so excited he can’t wait to get out. Depending on who is in the stroller I may keep hold of the leash, but I also use this clip as an extra safety measure.
Tires and wheels
Not all tires are suitable for all terrains, plastic being perfectly fine for smooth pavement, while air filled better for rougher and uneven surfaces.
Fixed wheels or swivel? My stroller has swivel wheels which is fine for pavement, malls and other smooth surfaces, and good for turning corners and manoeuvrability. Fixed wheels are best for jogging and off road. Many strollers have wheels you can let swivel or fix into place.
Rear locking wheels
An excellent safety feature to stop a stroller from rolling, you simply engage and disengage with your foot. Perfect for public transport, stopping for a chat, parking the stroller while walking the dog, or even while loading and unloading your pet.
For me a storage basket underneath the stroller is a must have, so check the size before you buy. On day trips we do take a knapsack, but having the basket means quicker access for things like – an extra sweater, human and canine water and snacks, sun hat, sun tan lotion….
Most strollers have it, although configurations may differ. It’s super convenient for items you want to keep close to hand such as water bottles, keys, phone, treats… If you like to keep a water bottle within easy reach, check the depth of the holder. Mine is perfect for a small bottle of about 8oz (250ml) or so, anything bigger and it will fall out if we walk on rougher terrain. It’s not a huge deal although slightly inconvenient. I put it in the canopy when it’s closed but when it’s open I have to put it in the storage basket.
Latch to keep pet stroller closed
Trust me when I tell you it’s a much needed feature. This latch is affixed to one part of the frame, and once it’s folded you click it onto the other part and it keeps the stroller closed. Unfortunately ours was lost (I don’t want to blame anyone, but it wasn’t me!!), and believe me it’s a nightmare without it. I should really try and find a replacement.
Some pet strollers come with it, most don’t, mine didn’t. The good news is they can be purchased separately because they are handy to have should you get caught in a rainstorm. Even if the stroller fabric is water resistant, if the rain is heavy enough it will get in through the mesh windows.
How to choose the right pet stroller for your senior dog – conclusion
If you have a senior dog who isn’t able to walk too far or join you on day trips, then you definitely need a pet stroller. It can be as basic or fancy as you like, and they come in a wide variety of prices to suit most budgets. Now that you see how wonderful they are, you don’t have to leave your old dog at home, or stay home because you don’t want to leave him alone. It can absolutely be a life changer…for both of you!
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I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.
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