Do-it-yourself (DIY) Dog Wheelchairs - Worth the Effort?
We are always at a loss as to how we should advice owners who have exhausted their resources paying for veterinary care and find the cookie jar empty when they need to buy a cart. There are several websites that advocate do-it-yourself (DIY) dog carts. As big fans for Home Depot and Lowe's, we certainly try the DIY angle ourselves often. But is a DIY cart a cost savings or a headache?
It isn't hard to find a number of DIY websites for dog wheelchair designs. Several come up immediately in google, yahoo, or bing search engines. Although K-9 Cart Company East owns the first patent on dog wheelchairs, as long as you are building a dog wheelchair for your own use rather than starting up a business, you probably aren't violating copyright and patent law. Whew! But almost all these sites are variations of the same design despite what they say.
What do you need to buy for a DIY carts?
Essentially these plans consist of building some sort of support structure using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. That's the white plastic pipe that you can find at your home hardware store that was designed for plumbing. That's right, it is meant to carry water not support weight. Ask any builder, houses are built of framing made of either wood or metal studs. Yes, the plumbing is in those walls, but it isn't meant to carry weight.
What else do you need:
- glue to hold the components together
- support harness
- cable ties
- nylon webbing
- saw to cut the PVC
- drill and drill bits
and, of course, a good ability to read directions and lots and lots of time .
What does a DIY cart cost?
|Louisville Wheelchair Assembly|
The most sophisticated plans we have seen are available at the University of Louisville website. You are required to register to download the plans. Although it is not clear why they make you register. You will notice that there is no patent for these design plans. Why? Because the plans are essentially a knock-off of our tubular aluminum wheelchair that we developed and patented in 2004 and have since improved many times in the ensuing years.
The material list consists of 22 items. Yes, it is 22 distinct items to build a do-it-yourself wheelchair. They itemize the costs and the grand total is $204.65 for a small cart and $220.15 for a medium large cart. When you consider that a small, custom-made K-9 Cart dog wheelchair typically costs $300-$325, isn't that a lot of money to pay to build it youself? Not to mention that it is made of PVC not aluminum. Despite the design coming from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, there is no mention of the material properties of PVC vs. aluminum or stainless steel. But we can assure you that PVC - especially when you riddle it with wholes to adjust the height - cannot provide the strength of aluminum or stainless steel. We tremor at the thought of trying to use this for a large dog!
In addition, the support system for the cart consists of a Walkabout harness. Now we know many owners love their walkabouts, and we understand how they provide a nice bridge when not in the cart or for rehabilitation. However, walkabouts were not designed to support a dog in a wheelchair.
So maybe it isn't so bad an idea for a small dog. Yes, PVC may be able to provide enough rigidity and strength for your 15 lb. dog. However, the diameter of the PVC is much larger than aluminum tube. Hence, the cart is bulky. Add to that the wheels that you can purchase are heavy spoked wheels. All this contributes to a lot of weight that you are asking your little dog to drag behind it.
Other comments about DIY carts?
You know the old saying, "You get what you pay for." Well, clearly that is where we stand with DIY dog wheelchairs. At K-9 Cart Company East, you not only purchase 45 years of veterinary expertise in building dog wheelchairs, but the ability to call or email and get veterinary advice about your pet's specific handicap or disability. We continue to make improvements on our carts, and pass those new ideas on to our customers. Each cart is custom-made specifically for your pet not made to be adjustable for every dog coming down the pike. Think about it. If a cart is made to fit a 30-60 lb dog there has to be extra weight in there to accommodate that wide a range. Sure we build some adjustability into each cart since we know how difficult it is to get exact measurements.
Still Can't Afford a Custom K-9 Cart Dog Wheelchair?
So after all those vet bills or your kids extra curricular activities, buying a new wheelchair isn't something you can afford. There are several options to consider:
- Call or email K-9Cart.com: While we don't "sell" used dog carts, we do keep a list of owners who no longer need their carts. Send us your measurements, and we will see if we can find a match. If so, we will give you the wheelchair's owner's contact information. From there it is up to you to negotiate a price, but typically most owners ask about 50% for a used K-9 Cart. At half-price that is still less than the cost of DIY cart.
- Look for used carts on Ebay or Craigslist: While this is a less likely way to find a K-9 Cart dog wheelchair, we do see other vendors carts almost daily on these online resources. Just be careful. There are some inexpensive "new" carts on Ebay. Would you buy medical equipment for your spouse or kid on Ebay. Probably not so keep this in mind that you get what you pay for on Ebay.
- Ask for help from animal lovers: We have had some very creative owners that have done everything from contacting AAHA Helping Hands and other resources for veterinary assistance to garage sales and bake sales to raise money. There are a lot of animal lovers out there that may be able to assist you. More resources are available on our links page.
Still have Questions?
Not sure whether a cart will work for you? Peruse our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) at K-9Cart.com. If you can't find an answer there, look at our Forums or post a question there yourself. Or shoot us an email at k9carts[@]yahoo.com or call us toll-free at 866-K9-CARTS (866-592-2787.)