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All shapes and sizes

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

Just like people, pets come in all shapes and sizes and with different levels of ability at most things in life. I have limited flexibility and it’s probably quite amusing to watch me in yoga classes attempting ‘sun warrior’... essentially I’m just standing upright looking at the ceiling, and people say yoga is hard!

Hollie also has her limitations caused mostly by her breed type as she is mainly a Peke. Pekes have flat faces and boggly eyes that can cause breathing and vision problems, but many people don’t realise that, due to their short stature and long backs, they also often suffer with joint problems.

What can we do about it?

Hollie has collected almost all the joint problems it’s possible to have: hips, knees, elbows, back… and this has made me change how we are exercising her. She doesn’t really like walking up or down hills and I live on a hill! I will struggle to carry her because of my mobility and when she is carried it can hurt her hips so I’ve thought hard about this issue. I want to exercise her most often on flat ground so we need a way to get there…

Enter the dog buggy, puppy stroller or canine carriage - call it what you will but it’s perfect for Hollie at the moment. We had a dog buggy before, for our last dog, but it was very open, and Hollie and her anxiety didn’t feel safe in it. So I’ve gone for a newer style one with higher sides and she loves it.

Enjoying our time

We can now enjoy walks properly as Hollie can get the exercise and sniffing sessions she needs, but with rest periods in the buggy. It’s also helped her anxiety as she feels safe in busy places, so we can venture to busy places and she doesn’t mind. There are certain parks she used to refuse to walk into as she didn’t like them, but now we whizz through the gates in her buggy and head to the nice flat areas that are of benefit to her.


You could say we’re winning, as I feel I’ve improved her quality of life in several ways - we get better walks, more socialising and controlled exercise. All of these are a huge benefit to her and if she sees the buggy coming out she sits and waits beside it to be lifted into it.

What has been surprising has been other peoples reactions! Most dog owners are really impressed with it and ask where to buy one – there are loads of different types online! They have explained really great situations where they feel their own dog would benefit, such as having an age gap between dogs (so the older dog may not want to walk so far), or having dogs with different energy levels (where one needs more exercise than the other). Owners are juggling their dogs needs and they see the buggy as a great option to help.

In fact some dog owners with young children have been sharing with me their worry about exercising their dog once their child's buggy has gone, as their dog likes to hitch a lift in the bottom of the buggy during walks! They have also been worried about walking a dog on a lead with a toddler, especially if they have busy roads to cross to get to the park – they could swap one buggy for another and keep everyone safe until getting to the park.

“WHY is that dog in a buggy?”

A dog buggy could be a help in all these situations but there are some people who don’t seem to get it and we’ve met those people too!

One lady in particular seemed to take offense and walked up to me, as I chatted to friends, to ask “Why is that dog in a buggy?” as if it was an act of cruelty! Hollie was having a snooze in her buggy at this point so I think she looked quite relaxed.

I have met people like this before so I have a simple short answer which is: “She’s quite arthritic so this lets her rest on walks”. Until now I thought this was quite enough information to share and arthritis was a condition most people could understand, so it covered everything without going into detail.

Well, today this wasn’t enough, and although the response was “Arthritis, I understand” it was delivered in a tone and with a look that seemed to say she still thought I was on the batty end of the spectrum…

Make your dog happy

Just like us, dogs come in all shapes and sizes with different needs, so the standard concept of dog ownership being 2 x 1 hour walks a day and a single tin of dog food at 6pm is now outdated.

We understand we need to tailor their care to their needs and in my case that has been the purchase of a purple polka dot buggy. I know some people will look at me with my small dog and think I’m molly coddling her, but in this instance she really does need it and from the reactions it sounds like lots of other dog walkers think they’re a good idea too… so don’t be afraid of the odd negative reaction.

Do what your dog needs, and they’ll thank you for it. As for determining what your dog needs… well, that’s a conversation to have with your veterinary team!

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