How much do you know about dog exercise wheels?
I bet not as much as you think!
I mean, to be honest, I didn’t even know much about them until recently, and I pretty much sleep and breathe dogs!
Read on for a complete guide to these over sized hamster wheels for your canine companion!
Related: 5 wheels for dogs with bad legs
What is a dog exercise wheel?
A dog exercise wheel is exactly what you’re probably picturing in your mind right now- a ginormous hamster wheel for dogs.
It sounds like a weird concept, right?
I mean, dogs and hamsters have very little in common, so why would the former want to use something designed to exercise the latter?
I agree, it is a fairly novel idea. In fact, I’d say it’s even more novel than dog treadmills, which are really only just starting to catch on as a consumer pet product.
Whenever I consider buying something for my Freya, I ask myself three questions. Is it safe? Is it effective? Will my dog actually use it?
Let’s take a look at the answers in regards to dog exercise wheels.
Are they safe?
Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. Usually, when I’m trying to decide if something is safe, I either turn to studies or expert opinions.
As far as exercise wheels go, I couldn’t find either.
I did find plenty of vet opinions on treadmills themselves, and the overwhelming majority say that they are safe when used correctly.
I like to believe that a company dedicated entirely to dog exercise products wouldn’t put out something that’s unsafe.
I mean, that’s just not good business practice! No one wants to get sued, after all.
So, are dog exercise wheels safe? I’m going to echo expert opinions on treadmills and say probably, when used correctly.
That means talking to your vet first (especially if your dog has medical issues) and supervising Fido every single moment he’s on the wheel.
Why probably? Mostly because all dogs are different, and there really is no blanket “yes” or “no” when it comes to the safety of anything.
Are the effective?
The next important question- will my dog actually see any benefits from using it? In other words, is it effective?
Again, I can’t site studies on this one because there just aren’t any. However, anything that gets your dog moving has the potential to be beneficial.
Are they as beneficial as a walk around the block? No probably not.
Actual walks are beneficial in ways that go beyond just giving your dog a workout. They engage all of his senses in a way that exercise wheels just can’t.
However, if you simply can’t walk your dog due to medical issues (yours or Fido’s), an exercise wheel is a good alternative.
Will your dog actually use it?
Ah, the biggest question of them all! Will your dog actually use an exercise wheel?
In my case, the answer is a resounding no. Freya would not get within a thousand feet of one.
How do I know if I haven’t tried? I just know my dog.
She was terrified of a hula hoop that I used for agility training, so there’s no way she’ll get on what amounts to a giant hoop!
You could use these tips for getting a scared dog on a treadmill. Keep in mind, though, that a wheel is a totally foreign concept, even more so than a treadmill.
While my dog wouldn’t use one, I know plenty of pups that have no qualms about hopping on a wheel for a good spin. You really just need to know your dog’s personality.
So, to recap:
- Dog exercise wheels are probably safe when used correctly
- They’re not as beneficial as a real walk, but better than no walk at all.
- Whether or not your dog will use it depends entirely on his personality.
If you’ve decided that you’re ready to give them a try, keep reading to find out where to get one.
FYI, thenext section contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Where to find exercise wheels for dogs
I’d love to give you a list of the top 10 best dog exercise wheels, but unfortunately very few brands actually make them right now.
In fact, you have even fewer options that you do with dog treadmills. So, below is the super short list of the best exercise wheels, both of which are by the same brand: GoPet.
Best Small dog exercise wheel
GoPet makes several sizes, including a model just for dogs in the toy to small range.
Features & Pros
- Made for dogs up to 25 pounds.
- A totally running area of 40″ diameter by 12″ width.
- Easy to clean, just hose it down.
- Small enough to fit inside your home, but you can also use it outdoors.
- Freestanding unit
- Nothing to plug in
- Comes with a training door (however I’d think twice before locking my dog inside the wheel)
- Soft mat running surfaces keeps paws comfortable
- Fairly pricey, although not as expensive as some small dog treadmills.
- Advertises “free shipping,” but the treadmill costs more on Amazon than on their website, so they’re rolling the shipping into the overall cost.
- Claims that it’s safe enough for the dog to use when home alone. This is such a BAD idea, and I can’t believe they’d be misguided enough to say something like that.
It bothers me immensely that GoPet is claiming their wheels are safe enough for dogs to use unsupervised.
Please, please, please do not allow your dogs to use it when you’re not home.
That said, since this is pretty much the only small dog exercise wheel on the market, it’s the defacto best.
While there aren’t many reviews, the majority of them are positive.
- For Dogs up to 25 pounds. Running Area: 40 D X12 W. Easy to clean. GoPet TreadWheels give your dogthe equipment he needs to exercise. The free standing GoPet TreadWheelprovides an unlimited running area allowing your dog to walk or run for miles - even if you are not home.
- Training Door Included. Running Mat for added comfort. Many dogs will use the treadwheel to relieveboredom and get some exercisewhile their owners are gone. Be sure to check our our Video - If you feel a Treadmill would be a better option please go back to the Dog Treadmills page. A great way to exercise overweight dogs. Allows for outdoor use.
- off-leash exercise so your dog can run at his ownnatural pace.
- Can be used anytime - even if your dog is home alone. Secure and Stable.
- Provides a physical outlet for high energy dogs.
Best Large dog exercise wheel
One look at the ratings for the GoPet large exercise wheel is enough to send you running for the hills.
Keep in mind, though, that there is literally only ONE rating, hardly enough of a sample to really determine its value.
Besides, GoPet is the only brand that I could find (and believe me, I searched high and low) that makes a large wheel.
Most of the features and pros are identical to the small dog exercise wheel except on a larger scale, but lets reiterate.
Features & Pros
- Recommended for breeds up to 150lbs
- Cushioned matted surface for comfort
- No electricity needed as it’s totally dog-powered
- Easy to clean, just hose it down.
- Free-standing so it can be used anywhere, including outdoors.
- Comes with a training door.
- Expensive (close to 2 grand!)
- Again, the “free shipping” isn’t really free since it costs $200 more on Amazon than on their website.
- Way too big to keep indoors, unless you have an entire room to dedicate to it.
- Dimensions are unclear, as GoPet seems to have forgotten to add them.
- Again, claims to be safe enough to use unsupervised, which can lead to disaster.
Since this is the only large dog exercise wheel, it’s again the defacto best, even though the single rating is a negative one.
You have to remember that not many people are buying these wheels yet, so it’s hard to judge their quality by the very few reviews.
If you want a better idea of how people (and dogs) like GoPet exercise wheels, check out the testimonials on their website.
I feel I must reiterate, please do not leave your dog alone on an exercise wheel, even if the brand claims it’s okay. It’s not. Period. End of discussion.
As far as the con regarding the higher cost on Amazon, I can kind of understand why they did it from a marketing standpoint.
We’re just more likely to spend more on something that ships free than we are on a cheaper item with $200+ shipping, even if both items come out to the same amount.
Personally, I’d go with Amazon, and not just because we earn a commission if you do.
See, the extended warranty on GoPet is fairly expensive, while Amazon’s protection plan is super affordable.
Where to find a cheap dog exercise wheel
All of the GoPet options are quite pricey. While the small dog wheel is pretty on par with the majority of treadmills, the two largest options cost more than my rent!
Since GoPet is really the only major brand to make them, finding a cheap dog exercise wheel isn’t going to be easy.
However, it’s doable if you know where to look (which I’m about to tell you).
In order of preference, here’s a list of places to try to find a more affordable wheel:
- Amazon- check the “new and used” listing under the bullet-point product description.
- eBay local listings (so you don’t have to pay for shipping)
- LetGo, Offerup, and other similar apps.
- Craigslist (just meet in a public place)
- A local dog rehab center- they may have an extra one that they’re willing to sell.
Just keep in mind that since not many people are buying dog tread wheels yet, they’re also not selling them, so don’t expect your search to be an easy one.
If you’re tempted to save money buy using a cat wheel, check out the next section first!
Can a dog use a cat wheel?
It’s tempting to buy a significantly less expensive cat exercise wheel for a small dog, but is it actually safe?
According to One Fast Cat, the only brand that actually mass produces cat wheels, some dogs may be able to use their product.
In the Q&A section of their wheel, they have this to say (I put the most important part in bold) :
Some customers have used the product for their dogs. We do advise that it has a 25lb weight limit. The wheel also has a depth of 12 inches. You will want to make sure that that is wide enough for your dog to walk comfortably on since some dogs can be broader in the chest than cats are.One Fast Cat
So basically, if you have a toy-size breed, it’s reasonably safe to use a cat wheel instead. Obviously, a large dog can’t use a cat wheel.
Again, check with your vet first and supervise your dog every single moment that he’s using the wheel.
Dog exercise wheels aren’t quite as trendy as treadmills, so your options are incredibly limited at this time.
They’re bulky, expensive, and hard to return if your dog doesn’t like them, so I recommend using one at a training or rehab facility first to see if Fido will even get on it.
If he does like it, though, they do make a nice alternative to electricity-guzzling treadmills, especially if you’re disabled and can’t walk your dog.