Caring for an injured or older dog with mobility issues is never easy. Canines rely on their hind legs for pretty much everything! They need them to walk around comfortably, do their business outside, and play.
When your dog suffers from a debilitating issue that makes the back legs weak, it can be heartbreaking to watch them limp around in pain.
Instead of letting them suffer in silence, you can provide support with a dog lift harness. The best dog lift harnesses to support injured or weak back legs will give your pooch some of their mobility back. Simple and easy to use, they remove pressure from back legs and make simple maneuvers possible once again.
Lift harnesses are relatively common. This is especially true in the veterinary medicine world, as they are frequently used to help geriatric dogs or canines recovering from surgery. As a result, you're going to come across numerous designs that look good at face value.
Before you grab the first one you see, it's important to take a step back and evaluate these lift harnesses from every angle! We've taken the liberty of finding some of the best on the market.
To give you some better insight into these handy accessories, we've also created a buying guide with some important information you need to know. Check them out below!
5 of the Best Dog Lift Harnesses for Handicapped, Injured, or Weak Back Legs
1. PetSafe CareLift Handicapped Support Dog Harness
The PetSafe lift harness is perfect for dogs who have mild mobility issues. It's a two-part unit that features adequate support in the back and a traditional control harness upfront.
Both parts are heavily padded and have mesh liner for comfort. Durable materials, reinforced stitching, and adjustable webbed straps are utilized as well.
To support the hips and legs, the harness features two straps. Quick-release buckles make the saddle a cinch to put on. Meanwhile, durable rubber handles on both ends give you complete control.
2. HandicappedPets Dog Support Sling
Next up, we have this simple harness from HandicappedPets. Instead of the complex strap system of the previous unit, this one favors a large fabric panel. The harness rolls up nicely for storage but is big enough to support the lower body without causing any uncomfortable pressure points.
Once you wrap the harness beneath the lower body, a few hook and loop fasteners secure it into place. Then, you're free to use the durable handle to hold your dog up as they move around.
3. Frisco Front & Rear Lift Handicapped Support Dog Harness
Here's another dual-purpose harness. This one is from Frisco. Available in two sizes, it features a harness system on the back of the body and one around the chest. This design isn't merely for control. It also helps to create a balanced load.
A lifting strap connects the two parts of your dog's body while also helping to distribute weight evenly. This can prevent pressure points and discomfort. If you need more focused lifting, there are two handles on both sides as well.
The harness is well-made and versatile enough to get a snug fit. Heavy padding, adjustable straps, and quick-release buckles round off the high-quality features.
4. Doggie Stylz Lifting Dog Harness Vest for Front-Only, Rear-Only or Full-Body Dog Lifting
Check out this flexible harness from Doggie Stylz. It's a two-part system that combines a lower-body harness with a traditional upper-body one. The unique thing here is that the two pieces are detachable. So, you can use one or the other. Or, you can use both a the same time!
Both sections feature a dedicated lift handle. They're also well-made. Instead of a complicated strap system, you're getting a few padded straps and large panels. The panels distribute pressure so that your pup can stay comfortable.
5. PetSafe CareLift Rear Handicapped Support Dog Harness
The CareLift harness from PetSate is simple yet effective. It's a standalone lift harness that's designed to support the back legs only. Like other PetSafe harnesses, it features the high-quality construction and durable materials you would expect.
One thick strap wraps around the hips and abdomen. It's heavily padded and utilizes breathable mesh for comfort. Adjustable straps over the top help you get a snug fit! To accompany the central belt, there are two leg loops. They take the pressure off the hips and legs for maximum comfort and support.
How Does a Lift Harness for Back Legs Work?
A lift harness is a rudimentary device that can make all the difference. It's not as complicated as a wheelchair and shouldn't be used as a long-term option for dogs that suffer from full rear paralysis. But if you have a dog with an injury, joint issues, or overall weakness, they can come in handy!
The best way to look at a lift harness is to think of it as a sling. A large panel wraps around the lower body. On two ends, you have handles. It kind of looks like a handbag in this sense. But instead of holding your daily essentials, you're carrying your dog!
The goal of a lift harness is to hoise your dog's lower body off the ground. You don't have to lift so much that your dog's feet are dangling several inches above the ground! Instead, they're meant to raise pressure off the joints, back, and spine.
With that reduced pressure, your dog can use its front legs to tell you where it wants to go. You're doing much of the heavy lifting, providing relief from whatever ails them.
When to Use a Lift Harness
The beauty of lift harnesses that they are flexible enough to help with many severe to relatively benign issues.
On the more serious side of things, lift harnesses are frequently used to help with spinal and hip issues. Larger dogs are notorious for suffering from hip dysplasia, which prevents the joints from operating smoothly.
As the dog ages, hip dysplasia worsens and prevents them from moving freely. In this case, a harness can provide some much-needed support for the rear legs.
Arthritis and Post Surgery
Dogs that suffer from arthritis and problems related to old-age can benefit, too. Medications can sometimes reduce pain. But many older dogs adopt a sedentary lifestyle to prevent the over-arching effects of arthritis from taking hold.
A harness can help with regular trips outside and may even encourage older dogs to take walks for exercise.
Harnesses also work wonders post-surgery and after traumatic injuries. They're a common sight at rehabilitation clinics where dogs heal from bone fractures, CCL tears, and more.
The harnesses reduce weight to prevent reinjury, allowing the dog to rehabilitate and get back to full mobility slowly.
Related: 7 of the Best Beds For Dogs with Arthritis & Seniors
Choosing the Right Harness for Rear Leg Support
Choosing the perfect lift harness to support your dog's back legs is easier said than done. Thanks to the simplicity of these accessories, you're going to find a lot of variety in design and quality.
Below are some of the most important factors to consider during your search.
One of the most important things is to choose the right type of harness. Lift harnesses are nothing new and can help with health issues beyond the rear legs.
If weak or injured back legs are the problem, focus your search on rear lift harnesses. These are the accessories that are specifically designed to take the pressure off the back legs.
They are in stark contrast to standard lift harnesses, which support the mid-section. You might also see cocoon-style harnesses that envelop your dog's entire body except for the legs!
Other types of harnesses are not going to provide the relief and support your dog needs. Pay attention to where the accessory hugs the body and how it lifts.
This should go without saying, but veterinary assistance is always necessary. If not used properly, or if you use the wrong type, harnesses can do more harm than good.
The pressure exuded during a lift could harm the ribcage, compress internal organs, and more.That's the last thing you want! So, speak with your veterinarian before you invest in a harness.
Furthermore, look for veterinary-approved accessories. Thanks to their simplicity, it's pretty easy to "DIY" a sling. Many are available from craft sites and third-party sellers.
Again, improper lifts can cause more damage than they resolve! Stick to lifts made by professionals only.
A lift designed for a Chihuahua is not going to work for a Doberman! All harnesses fit differently, so you must pay attention to any measurement options given by the manufacturer.
Big-name harness suppliers provide a range of sizes to work for all dog breeds.
Another thing to note is the length of the handles and the presence of other convenience features. If you have a tall dog, you'll need shorter handles that you can comfortably hold at your side.
A lifting arness should act as a leash in the sense that you shouldn't have to lift the handles above your midsection! If you need a bit of extra security, you can also find multi-function harnesses with additional supports, chest constraints, and more.
Quality and Construction
Strong and durable fabrics are a must for the sling portion of your harness. Look for tear-resistant materials that won't buckle under pressure. Heavy padding is a plus, too, to prevent injury.
For the handles and borders, go for something that has added security. Reinforced stitching, ripstop panels, and more provide that peace of mind you need.
Plus, it ensures that the lift harness is built to last no matter what.
The Bottom Line
You should put just as much thought into your dog's lift harness as you do any other health-related item! The best dog lift harnesses to support injured or weak back legs can make a world of difference in your pup's quality of life.
They alleviate pain and restore a bit of normalcy back into your dog's routine.
While they won't address the source of mobility problems, a lift harness can buy you time and prevent further injury.
At the end of the day, all most dog owners want is to make the pain go away, right? A reliable lift harness can do just that. You'd be surprised by how much a touch of added mobility can make to an injured or aging dog's life.
Also read: Measuring Your Dog for a Harness, Coat or Sweater