I think the dog stroller is one of the all time greatest inventions, so I’m going to help you choose the best pet stroller for your pup.
How it helped my dogs
It made a massive difference in the lives of two of my dogs – Red, my heart dog who sadly gained her wings last year, and Jack. Let’s talk about Red quickly. Although she was small and weighed less than 10lbs, she would get very heavy after just a few minutes of carrying her. She was a blind old dog when we adopted her, and although she was perfectly able to walk, she was quite slow. That wasn’t an issue when taking her for walks in the park or quieter areas, but if we were off on a day trip in a crowded area, or just wanted to have a wander, it was a lot easier and safer to put her in her doggie stroller. If you have an old dog, I highly recommend you buy one.
About 2 1/2 years ago our other dog Jack became paralysed quite suddenly. He was fine in the morning and by mid afternoon his back legs stopped working. Luckily surgery was an option, but his recovery was long and for quite some time he was only allowed 5 minute walks. We needed to make sure he wouldn’t get bored or start feeling depressed, so with permission from his 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.
Even after Jack was fully recovered, there were still times he used it when we were out as a family with Red. After running on a hot day he would often take a break by lying underneath it in the shade it created. He has also been known to hitch a ride part of the way home until he got his second wind!
Are you ready to buy a dog stroller?
Whether this is the first time you’ve ever heard of such a thing, or you’ve been looking for ages and are totally overwhelmed by the number of styles and options, I’m going to help you figure out how to choose the best pet stroller for your dog.
Here are my tips in no particular order
It’s hard to decide how much you’re willing to spend on something, if you have no idea how much that something costs!! The good news is strollers for dogs are available in a wide range of prices, so you should find a price point you’re comfortable with. If you’re willing to buy second hand you can probably find a great deal in a local Facebook buy and sell group for example.
Weight the pet stroller can accommodate
You will find weight guidelines on the tag, product description or booklet, and it’s a good idea to follow them so you know the frame will 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 stroller.
Size dog it can accommodate
Weight and size are 2 different things. You may find a great stroller that suits your dog’s weight, but not all dogs with the same weight will be the same size. To find out your dog’s size measure him from nose to tail then width, and compare them to the interior dimensions of the stroller. If the numbers too closely match I would buy the next size up, so I can be sure there is enough room for a comfy blanket and for my dog to stretch out.
How does it look?
There’s nothing wrong with having a nice looking stroller if that’s important to you, after all you’re going to be using it a lot! I was so excited when I decided to buy my first one, I gave absolutely no thought to how I would feel pushing a dog in a bright red stroller. Keep in mind I live in an area where you hardly ever see one! My husband was happy we stuck out so much because he felt it would be a conversation starter. He wanted people with older dogs to realise it was a great way to get their pups out of the house, rather than leaving them home alone because of mobility issues. I guess we were performing a public service!
A good quality stroller doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but it is absolutely an important feature. The last thing you want is for it to break down miles from home.
Handle height and placement
Is the handle height comfortable where it is or does it need to be adjustable? Some pet strollers have the option, others do not. Placement refers to how far the handle sticks out, which can affect whether or not you kick the tires as you walk, especially if you’re going at a quicker pace.
You definitely want a stroller you can fold to keep it out of the way when not in use, and to easily transport in the car or even the train. Most need two hands to fold it (mine does), some just one.
Latch to keep pet stroller closed
Trust me when I tell you it’s a much needed feature. On my stroller there was (yes, past tense!) a latch 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 my husband but it wasn’t me!!), and believe me it not the same without it. I should really try and find a replacement.
Having a canopy that extends is a very important feature. On a beautiful day you can keep it open, but if the sun becomes too hot for your dog, it starts to rain or there are too many bugs about, it’s good to have the option to close it.
I love this feature and it’s on the canopy of my pet stroller. Made of mesh with a velcro flap, it not only provides an extra source of ventilation when the canopy is closed, it also allows me to easily check on my dog without stopping and walking around to the front of the stroller.
How easy is it to push?
Pushing an 8lb dog on a paved path is one thing, pushing an 85lb dog over rough terrain is quite another. If it’s too hard to use no one will benefit. The weight of the stroller and type of tires are some determining factors.
Sometimes a stroller is just a stroller, but other times it can also be a bike trailer, car seat or even a pet carrier. Yep, there are some that come in multiple configurations so one product can serve more than one purpose.
Amount and quality of mesh in the fabric
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 the dog from jumping or trying to jump out. When the canopy is open it 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.
Another advantage to rear entry is you can unzip it slightly if you have to reach in and grab something or even fix the blanket on your dog if it’s chilly out.
A tether is a wonderful safety feature and one I always used. It is a leash that comes attached to the stroller with a clip at the end that you can attach to your dog’s collar or harness.
Tires and wheels
Not all tires are suitable for all terrains, plastic being perfectly fine for smooth pavement, while air filled are better for rougher and uneven surfaces. Mine are plastic but because I only use it on smooth surfaces, they are perfect for my needs.
Fixed wheels or swivel? My stroller has swivel wheels which work well on paved surfaces such as sidewalks and stores. They are also good for turning corners and added maneuverability. Fixed wheels are best for jogging and off road. Some 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.
Some pet strollers come with it, most don’t, mine didn’t. 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 may get in.
How to choose the best pet stroller for your dog – conclusion
Whether you have an old dog with mobility issues, a dog recovering from surgery or illness, or your dog just can’t walk that far, pet strollers for dogs are definitely worth looking into.
Is this the first you’re hearing about a stroller for dogs? If yes, does it sound like something that could benefit your dog? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.