First, there were pet beds. Then, tote bags with wee furry occupants started cropping up. And now … strollers for dogs? They may seem like an indulgent accessory, but the truth is, dog strollers (which cats can use, too) can be helpful to both of you. “A pet stroller is a good means of transport,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack of Animal Acupuncture. Far from being just another way to “spoil” a pet, a dog stroller can keep your beloved companion safe and happy. Still undecided? Here’s a list of potential benefits that your pet—and you—can get from using a pet stroller.
Less stressful vet and groomer visits. We’ve all been there: a dog pulling on his leash all around the waiting room. Or a cat howling pathetically as you struggle to open the door with one hand while holding a carrier in the other. Pets just know when they’re going to the vet or groomer, and rarely make it easy on us to get them there. Strollers for dogs can make these mandatory outings more manageable, with your pet tucked inside a cozy personal space where he or she feels secure, and you only having to push the stroller along.
Double duty made easier. Two pets are double the love, of course—but can also be double the hassle when it comes to transporting them. If you choose a stroller that can accommodate two pets, your trip—wherever you are headed—just got twice as easy. The Pet Gear Double No-Zip Pet Stroller is perfect for two toy breed dogs, two cats or one of each!
Elderly pets feel young again. If you have a pet who used to love long walks, but just can’t get very far anymore, a pet stroller can bring a bit of the fun back into their lives. “Strollers are a great, efficient means of transport for elderly or disabled pets, as it allows them to venture outside for some fresh air,” says Dr. Barrack.
The same holds true for dogs who, for whatever reason, have a habit of “pooping out” shortly after departing, leaving you to carry them back. “Dog strollers allow for exercise for owners and environmental enrichment for pets that can’t quite make the distance,” explains Tiffany Margolin, DVM, CVA. “The worst sight is someone dragging their dog behind them … a stroller … is so much better for that dog.”
Simpler shopping. More stores are allowing pets to shop along with their humans. That’s great. Comparing prices and checking ingredients while trying to hold a wriggly Maltese? Not so much. Strollers for dogs can make it possible for you to run that quick errand. Plus, you’ll be less tempted to leave your pet alone in the car for “a minute,” which is never a good idea.
“My biggest worry with small dogs in busy crowds is most people aren’t looking for them, and they could get stepped on. It’s our job as owners to protect them from things they can’t protect themselves from,” says Taylor Truitt, DVM, Co-Founder and CEO of The Vet Set.
Practice will make perfect. For pets who dread the vet to the extent that it makes them suspicious of any outing that seems at all out of the ordinary, a stroller can start smoothing the way. “Get your dog used to being out, so he realizes not every trip is to the vet and that being outside is loads of fun,” says Dr. Barrack. It’s a good idea to introduce the stroller during a low-stress, high-enjoyment outing—say, a trip to the nearby dog park. “The dog needs to learn how to calmly ride in one,” agrees Dr. Truitt. One with mesh that zips the pet in can keep bolting at bay while your pal gets used to his new set of wheels. Once the dog has a positive association with the stroller, then he’ll probably be less fearful when it’s time to head to the vet. For long, happy strolls along bike trails or other somewhat bumpy areas, a pet stroller with shock absorbers is ideal, such as Pet Gear AT3 Generation 2 All-Terrain Pet Stroller.
One final bit of advice: Don’t try to repurpose a child’s stroller. It’s made differently, and won’t be as safe nor as comfortable for a dog. If cost is a concern, you can find a number of budget-friendly, quality pet strollers, including Pet Gear Happy Trails Lite No- Zip Pet Stroller and Outward Hound Walk N Roll Pup Stroller.