‘Puppy Power Pants’- Why I love the Help ‘Em Up harness!
Dr Jane’s explains why a little support can go a long way in helping senior or recovering pets to improve their mobility and comfort.
My top-tip for older dogs to help with mobility, is to give them a much-needed helping hand to get up after sleeping, sitting or lying down. Just like older people, it’s damn difficult to sit in a low chair or get back up from it again! And we certainly don’t make Grandpa sit on the floor! But our pets do need to sit and lie on the floor or their beds, so we need to devise ways to help them more easily move from sitting to standing.
I luuuuuve the Help ‘em up harness for getting these guys up quickly with ease (for the owner) and comfort (for the pet) so they can use their tired muscles for the good stuff- like going for walkies!! The muscle effort and exertion needed by the dog’s back-leg thigh muscles to stand often takes so much out of them, that their fur parents tell us they are tired or weak on their walk. If we can help them stand, then they are often ‘good to go!’. Providing additional traction with Toe Grips is an excellent solution (See our blog or product page for more infor on these little guys) and I will often use these in combination with a harness.
The harness was designed in the US by working with rehabilitation or physiotherapy vets like me. It has a handle at the front, on a large chest piece. Why so big? Because dogs are often chest heavy and we need a larger surface area for the harness to safely help lift and support them. In old pet’s we also want to avoid anything pulling around the neck or lower neck (the thoracic inlet)- many old dogs will have neck pain, and some have more difficult breathing, so we don’t want to risk putting any strain on that area.
The back part of the harness, I affectionally call ‘the puppy power pants’ because this is the part the many dogs really need to give them that little bit more power or boost to the back legs. The power pants (rear part) also has a handle, which allows me or the owner to transfer just a little bit of lift to the hind end of the pet. With a little boost or taking a little of the weight, these fur babies are sooooo much more easily able to stand and conquer! I ask the owners to use a hand (often a finger list) on the power pants to help their pet up any stairs, inclines or accross tricky areas (like slippery floors), they need to negotiate.
Is it comfy? Yep! The harness was created with an understanding that if a pet needs help to get up, then this occurs many times a day, so the harness needs to be super comfortable, so it can stay on for extended periods of the day, ready for use.
Check this video to see handsome Ebony cruising the street and Dr Jane helping him up a few steps using his 'puppy power pants''.
So why are the back leg muscles getting weak? Older dogs will often lose their hind leg strength due to atrophy or loss of the muscle, which in turn leads to weakness. Atrophy of the muscles can be due to several things:
- Lack of use - Can be due to pain, for example arthritis in the hips, which make the dog less willing to walk, climb stairs or play, so less muscle is needed and this progresses to weakness
- Neurological weakness – can be due to degenerative conditions of the spine which cause the back legs to be under less control by the brain
- Generalised muscle loss from loss of protein through kidney or intestinal problems or cancer which affect the whole body and leave the muscle atrophied and weaker.
Help ‘Em Up harnesses come in all sizes and we have fitted them to all kind of breeds from XS for Mini-Poos, Peks and Poms; S for Pugs, Shibas or Corgies with their super long backs; M and L for our Hong Kong Tong Gaus (cross breeds), Goldens, Labs, Doodles, GSDs, Huskies, Rotties, even Burmese Mountain dogs. But until recently, I had not yet found any doggy to fit an XL!! Now that size will sit proudly on a Bull Mastiff!
Not just for back legs weakness- any problem that means the pet has difficulty to stand using their front or back legs. At Paws in Motion, I have fitted HEU harnesses to loads of spinal rehabilitation patients to help them with the early mobility and to give me a handle to use during their rehabilitation exercises! I have even used the harness on cats and rabbits to help with mobility and neurological retraining.
Help ’Em Up™ Harness
Introducing the Help ’Em Up Harness with “Hip Lift.” A complete shoulder and hip harness system that literally lifts the lives of aging or recovering dogs! By placing a pair of handles where you can quickly reach them, this unique dog harness allows you to lend support at any time.Choose options
Six year old mini poodle, Buddy, went from a bouncing super active doggy to unable to move overnight, when his brain had an infection that affected his ability to do everything. We used physiotherapy exercises and his determination to get him back moving.