Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Bertocci, Gina E.


Wheelchairs--Design and construction; Dogs--Equipment and supplies; Dogs--Health; Veterinary physical therapy


Hind limb paralysis may occur in dogs for a variety of neurological or musculoskeletal reasons. For dogs with limited mobility their lack of ability to ambulate can have a great impact on their physical and mental health. Canine wheelchairs can provide these dogs with a mobility option. The purpose of this project was to design a cost effective, adjustable, and lightweight canine wheelchair for dogs with hind limb paralysis. To account for the diverse range of canine breed sizes, wheelchairs were categorized into three separate designs (small, medium, and large size wheelchairs). A quality function deployment (QFD) matrix was created to guide each design and to evaluate their performance. To assess the wheelchair designs, static strength, fatigue strength, and stability were analyzed. The wheelchair frames were designed to be constructed from PVC piping. The von Mises stress for each wheelchair design was below the 7500 psi yield strength of PVC. Wheelchair fatigue life was determined to be 25200-39100, 895,000-1x106, and 1000-5110 cycles respectively for the small, medium and large wheelchair. Lateral tip angles were 42o-61o, 32o-49o and 30o-45o, respectively for the small, medium and large wheelchair. The wheelchairs cost between $148-$219, and took 4-5 hours to construct. The small, medium and large wheelchair weighed 3.25 lbs, 12.5 and 12.75, respectively. Three wheelchair designs for dogs with hind limb paralysis were developed and prototypes were constructed that were cost effective, adjustable and had weights similar to commercially available canine wheelchairs. Compared with the minimum cost of a commercially available wheelchair ($220) the developed wheelchairs have the potential to be cost competitive.