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wagons for dogs, senior dogs, handicapped pets, vital vet

Jane L., who’s part of the Vital Vet community, wrote and asked if we could recommend a dog wagon for her beautiful 63 lbs Pittie girl, Cora.  Jane had researched wagons but couldn’t quite find what she needed.  Cora is a big girl; she has arthritis and can only walk short distances.  “Once Cora plops down, that’s the signal that she needs a wagon to ride the rest of the way.” said Jane, so she contacted Vital Vet’s Product Wizard for help in sourcing the best wagon to meet Cora’s needs. 

Cora, the pitbull girl with a beautiful pink nose in need of a wagon 

The Product Wizard experts noticed that many wagons were not specifically made for dogs and therefore, not easily accessible for them.  Wagons either had a very narrow opening making it difficult for larger dogs to get inside or the pet parents had to lift dogs to place them inside the wagon (a daunting task if you have a big dog with disabilities).  According to Jane’s e-mail, “Most people would not be able to lift a heavy dog like Cora over the side of the cart, so what’s the purpose?” GOOD POINT! Most wagons only load from the front or top.  If you have a big dog, or you are not physically able to lift your dog, you need a wagon whose sides open up. 

Why Use a Wagon

Older or disabled dogs enjoy family outings as much as any dog.  With a wagon, you can take your buddy for longer trips outside so that they can sniff, see other dogs, and be social.  For dogs, mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise.

Wagons are especially useful for:

  • Dogs with arthritis, painful back, knees, hips… that can limit movement
  • Dogs with weak hind end like those with hip dysplasia or degenerative myelopathy
  • Senior dogs who don’t have as much endurance and get tired faster
  • Amputee/tripod dogs who may not be able to go for longer distances 
  • Dogs with other medical issues like blindness, heart problems, cancer or other conditions that can cause weakness and lack of energy

Why Choose a Wagon Over a Stroller

  • Wagons usually hold more weight (100 lbs and up) and are wider and/or longer than strollers and are therefore better for larger dogs; they’re also great for hauling multiple dogs or your dog and a supply of treats and toys 
  • Wagons are usually sturdier and tougher than strollers and can withstand more wear and tear so they’re great for destructive or active dogs
  • Wagons are lower to the ground and a few do have sides that open (see below), making them easier for dogs to get in/out
  • Many wagons are less expensive than strollers, making them a more economical choice

What to Look for When Choosing a Wagon

  • Check accessibility, that is, how you get the dog inside the wagon.  Make sure that there’s a side that opens and that it’s easy and wide enough for your dog.  If the sides of the wagon don’t open, make sure the wagon is low enough so that you can comfortably help your dog inside.
  • Check the weight capacity of the wagon.  This is especially important for dogs weighing more than 100 lbs.  Most wagons can handle up to 100 lbs but fewer can handle more weight.
  • Check the length of the wagon and compare that to your dog’s length.  Your dog should be able to lie down comfortably in the wagon.  You may want to add a thin bed or blanket in the wagon, and this will take up extra room so take this into consideration.
  • Make sure the bed of the wagon (where your dog lies down) is flat and sturdy so that your dog feels supported.  Wagon bottoms with slats or grates are not comfortable and not recommended unless you plan on covering the bottom with a thick dog bed or blanket.
  • If you have to load the wagon in your car, it’s helpful to have a wagon that is collapsible and lightweight
  • Make sure the wagon is easy to pull, steer, and turn 

The wagons below are the ones that were recommended to Jane to help her and her dog, Cora.  

VITAL VET’s Overall Best Choice is…(drum roll please)

Radio Flyer 3-in1 Off-Road EZ Fold Wagon with optional Canopy

  • Holds up to 150 lbs
  • Side zips open so that your dog can get in/out easily
  • Fits dogs up to 40″ long (measure from neck, over spine, to base of tail)
  • Collapses easily to fit into your car (wagon weighs 22 lbs)
  • Off-road tires make for a smoother ride on grass and trails
  • Includes a canopy to provide your dog with shade on sunny days
  • The base model with canopy is super economical at just over $100

    These next ones are worth more than a second look:

    Heavy Duty Collapsible Folding All Terrain Wagon



    • Large capacity wagon opens to 36.2″ x 21.4″ x 24.6″
    • Holds up to 150 lbs
    • This is a great wagon if you live in the country or near the beach – the extra wide tires tackle most terrains, including sand
    • Easily foldable and weighs 24.5 lbs
    • *DRAWBACK – Dog must be lifted and placed inside the wagon

    Radio Flyer All-Terrain Pathfinder Wagon


    • Folding seats
    • 10″ all-terrain rubber air tires
    • Holds up to 200 lbs
    • Highly rated
    • Assembled dimensions are 41. 5” L x 18” W x 17. 2”

    *DRAWBACK – does not collapse; may be difficult to take in the car
    *DRAWBACK – flatbed has 2 cup holder holes and a hard, plastic base so please fill the holes with a small towel or other material so paws don’t get caught, and use a thick blanket or dog bed to cover the base



    Heavy Duty Utility Wagon

    • Heavy duty – holds up to 300 lbs and dogs about 31″ long (measure from neck, over spine, to base of tail)
    • Foldable and easy to carry and pack
    • All terrain 4” wide and 7” diameter wheels will let you pull your pup easily through grass and sand
    • Fabric can be removed and easily cleaned
    • Steel frame is rust proof
    • *DRAWBACK – Dog must be lifted and placed inside the wagon

    Muscle Carts Steel Utility Garden Wagon

    • This wagon will hold the biggest dogs – weight capacity is 400 lbs (hopefully, NONE of you need anything bigger!)
    • Holds dogs up to 34″ long (measure from neck, over spine, to base of tail)
    • ALL sides open up
    • Corrosion resistant frame
    • 10″ rubber tires will go through just about any terrain
    • *DRAWBACK – Assembly required, including filling the tires with air and the tools needed for assembly are not included
    • *DRAWBACK – does not fold; may be difficult to take in the car
    • *DRAWBACK – flatbed is steel grate so use an extra-thick blanket or dog bed to cover the base

    For those needing a custom-made wagon, see our friends at Elwing Works

    If you want recommendations for a product or device for a pet with special needs, contact Vital Vet’s Product Wizard

    A Vital Vet Publication  

    Let’s work together and give them the best life possible!

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