While many people refer to their pets as their “fur babies” it is still relatively uncommon to see pets being pushed around in prams — but according to some, that could be changing.
Brisbane woman Catini Leung, the owner of Mochi, a two-year-old Japanese spitz, decided to try one out six months ago when her dog became “skittish” in new places.
“At first I was a bit iffy about it, but then when I saw the result, that Mochi was safer and we could take him to a lot more places, I was for it,” Ms Leung told ABC Radio Brisbane.
Mochi can struggle when in new environments with lots of cars, sounds or people and the pram is helping to change that, proving a safe space.
“I think that’s the best of both worlds,” Ms Leung said.
She said Mochi was not exposed to a lot of different environments as a puppy, so the pram helps to introduce him to new places and development positive associations with them.
Ms Leung said while pet prams are more common overseas, she is seeming more of them here.
But not everyone is accepting and she has been approached by strangers who have said, “Dogs are meant to walk on the ground, not in a pram”.
Why opt for a pram?
There a plenty of reasons a dog might use a pram — they might be old, sick, injured, recovering from surgery or simply timid.
Puppies can also struggle to walk long distances and owners might avoid letting them walk in areas other dogs frequent, until they are fully vaccinated.
New South Wales dog owner Sarah Williams said her four-legged, three-wheeled companion, Buddy enjoys cruising around the Newtown in his pram now that health issues largely prevent him from walking.
“I first got him the pram about three years ago because he has a bowed leg and arthritis, and was struggling to walk for any distance,” she said.
“It meant I could walk him down to the beach or the park.
“Having the pram means we can get him out and about in the fresh air.”
Ms Williams said she considered a carrier but it was too heavy.
Craig Frenchman and Karen Sutch, from Brisbane’s Northside, say their seven-year-old Chippy will “just stop” and refuse to walk.
At that point all three of the extended family’s dachshunds jump into the pram, especially when the ground becomes too hot in summer.
For Mia Millett, who lives in Utah in the United States, a pram has meant she can exercise for longer, even if her ageing dogs can no longer keep up.
“This pram has changed our lives,” she said.
Prams improve quality of life: Vet
Taringa Veterinary Surgery owner and vet, Olivia Dyer, said she has seen an increase in the use of mobility aids like prams.
“They really add to the quality of life for some dogs who for various reasons aren’t able to go for long walks or hilly walks, especially during our hot summers.
“I think people are much more accepting now and that it’s a bit of a snowball effect: you see it a couple of times and your brain doesn’t feel so surprised by the fact there’s a dog in the stroller rather than a baby.”
Dr Dyer said dog wheelchairs can also get bad wrap.
“It looks even more confronting than a pram,” she said.
“We don’t like seeing evidence of illness … you have stop looking at wheels and the limp back-end and you need to look at the happy face and the strong forelimbs.
A spokesperson from pet store Dog Culture said they had seen a steady increase in the purchase of pet prams.
“In the past we used to get enquiries mainly from those with elderly or disabled pets,” the spokesperson said.
“Particularly as in recent times people have been spending more recreational time with their pets.”
You can’t just plonk them in a pram
Dr Dyer said people need to be sensible when using prams, making sure to be with the animal when they are in the pram and not to leave them in the sun.
She said dogs should be restrained while in the pram to ensure they cannot jump out, but the restraint should not be attached to the pram itself.
Dr Dyer said simply getting dogs used to prams could take some work to desensitise them to the new sensation.
“I think some dogs would find it stressful, so you would have to assess how your dog responds to it,” she said.
“If they were really frightened of it, then don’t use a pram.”