When Is It Enough? Declines in Senior Dog Mobility

Eddie's Wheels
Image Copyright to Eddie's Wheels

Last night I was struck with the limitations on Jet’s mobility.

It’s not as though I haven’t noticed him slowing down, the clicking in his knee when he gets up, or the difficulty getting up from the floor. Last night, though, I was hit with the severity of his mobility troubles.

I lay in bed until 8am wondering if it was “time.”

I googled, I read, I researched, all the while with tears silently running down my cheeks.

I’m not ready to let my boy go.

Then, the more I read, the more I realized that my boy isn’t ready to let go either.

When pet owners ask vets whether they think it’s time to put their dog to sleep, vets often respond with the “quality of life” questions that they have drilled into them at vet school.

These questions are used to evaluate the amount of pain a pet is in, the appetite of the pet, the hydration of the pet, hygiene of the pet, happiness of the pet, mobility of the pet, and whether the pet has more good days than bad.

When a dog is no longer living with a quality of life, they score poorly on all aspects of the scale.

Poor scoring on some parts of the scale and not others can indicate that there are adjustments that can be made to make the dog comfortable.

Jet scores poorly on mobility and moderately on pain.

There are things that can be done.

I plan to increase his supplements, restock his Adequan, increase his pain medications, implement physical therapy, and we are looking into mobility aids.

There are two options for us for Jet’s mobility – a wheelchair and splints.

The wheelchair will run around $540

The splints will run around $160


The Wheelchair


Eddie's Wheels
Image Copyright to Eddie’s Wheels


This is the Eddie’s Wheels wheelchair, it is $540 for Jet’s size and support needs.

This is obviously something that we cannot afford, at least not right now.

Each month we pay $95 for Vetmedin, $25 for Enalapril, $29 for Adequan, $22 for a joint supplement, $60 for food, $42 for pet insurance, $20 for pain medication…that’s $293. Then there’s a cardiac ultrasound every 6 months, regular vet visits for checkups…for a small family on a limited budget, that’s a LOT.

I’m certainly not complaining, he needs what he needs and as his mom, I will make sure that he gets it.

He is my baby, our baby, and I want him to get the most out of the short life he has.

If a wheelchair will help him, I will find a way to make it happen…I’m just not sure how yet.


The Splints

Rear Splints

This is the Walkin’ Rear Splint from Handicapped Pet’s website. Two of these would cost just over $150.

This is something that we could perhaps afford with a lot of scrimping and saving.

So What Do We Do?

I’m not quite sure of the answer to this question just yet.

My preference would be to be able to afford both of these tools to help Jet’s mobility.

The reason I love the wheelchair option is that it would allow us to once again go walking. It would provide support while allowing Jet to add strength to his atrophied back legs. He would get exercise and actually become healthier, stronger.

At the moment, he does not walk outside. His back leg weakness does not afford him much more than a few minutes out to go to the bathroom.

Strengthening his back legs is a must because it will create a healthier body rather than simply provide support.


Sometimes if we spend too long outside, Jet will get too weak in the back legs and he will either fall, or his back legs will slump downwards so far that he is almost walking on his ankle joint.

This is where the splints would help. They would support that joint to prevent the falling back that comes from hind leg weakness. This support would help to prevent his falling backwards and stop Jet from turning this leg posture into a habit.

You might be asking right about now why we haven’t tried to build muscle in Jet’s hind legs already – I have. Short exercises and short walks, but the weight of his body provides a lot of strain and he soon gives up. Don’t get me wrong, we will keep these efforts up, but I also know that we have to make other accommodations as well. Jet deserves that. Just as an older person may need a walker, my boy needs support too.


I know that some of you out there are likely asking why bother? Jet is a 15-year-old large breed dog and if his hind legs are so weak, why not “put him out of his misery.” The thing is, however, that he is not in misery. Jet still very much enjoys his life. Would you put your grandma to sleep because she needed a walker? Would you put your brother to sleep because he isn’t as strong as he was when he was 18?


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  1. July 25, 2016

    Hi Amy! This is such a thought-provoking post. My Haley’s entering her senior years and these thoughts go through my mind too. There’s so much more these days that can be done for our pup’s health and mobility, it makes decision making more complicated. Luckily, it also gives us many more months and years with our sweet dogs.

    Wishing you the best with Jet and give him a big hug from Haley! 😊

    • July 25, 2016

      Thank you for your comment, Elaine (and Haley!) I agree, there are so many wonderful developments, but it does make our hard choices even harder at times. It’s hard to know what is best.
      Sending hugs right back to Haley!
      <3 Amy & Jet

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