How to Sew a Support Sling for Your Ailing Pet
Dolly was fourteen when she collapsed in the yard and couldn't get up. The vet found a malignant tumor on her spleen and told us Dolly would probably not survive the procedure at her age. After a few days at the hospital, our family pet returned home.
She became quite wobbly and tended to fall down, in particular, when she went outside to take care of business. She needed something to help keep her on her feet. This handmade support sling, made from a man's t-shirt, was a quick and economical solution.
Our senior dog needed some extra help staying on her feet when it came time to go outside. We tried using a bath towel wrapped around her underside. It was hard to hold onto the ends of the towel and the length required bending over as we walked around with her in the yard.
Our solution was to make a longer support from the stretchy fabric of a t-shirt. Adding handles to the ends made it less likely that we'd drop her and easier on our backs as well.
After Cookie became ill, we hung one support sling on the handle of the back door, ready to use when needed. We would lift up her back side and reach underneath with one end of the sling in hand. Joining the handles above her back and letting her lead the way became the new routine. It was amazing how quickly she adapted to the process.
Making the sling took just over an hour from start to finish. Cutting the top off the t-shirt, sewing up the edges and affixing the handles was all done with basic sewing skills. Here's how to begin.
- Size Large Man's T-Shirt
- 1 yard of cotton twill
- Marking Pencil
- Sewing machine
- Steam Iron (optional)
Start with an old T-Shirt, preferably a man's size large. You'll also need about a yard of cotton twill from the fabric store. This is sold by the yard and quite inexpensive. You can also reuse fabric handles from other items like a canvas tote or reusable grocery bag.
You'll need a good pair of scissors and a marking pencil, a ruler, and white thread. A steam iron helps when folding the fabric but isn't required.
Using an Old T-Shirt
- Place the T-shirt flat on a work surface. Using a ruler and a marking pen, lightly draw a guideline across the shirt under the armpits.
- Cut across the guideline through both layers of the shirt to separate the arm section from the body.
- Cut off the bottom hem of the shirt. This leaves a tubular section of fabric about sixteen inches (16") long.
Cut along the outer edge of the fabric tube.
Next, open the tubular section by cutting along the outside fold creating a long narrow piece of fabric.
Sew along the long edge of the fabric about 1/4 inch from the edge using a basting stitch.
Turn the edge under along the stitch line using a steam iron to make a fold.
Making a Long Piece of Fabric
Stitch on the edge along the fold. Turn the edge under again and sew along the edge to make a hem.
Repeat this step on the other long edge of the fabric so both sides have a hem.
Turn the Edge Under Twice
Fold the Fabric Lengthwise
Fold the fabric in half lengthwise and iron along the fold. Fold each half again lengthwise along either side of the original fold creating a fan shape.
Stitch across the folded end of the fabric and trim across the edge to make it even.
Cut two pieces of cotton twill about eighteen (18) inches long. You'll get two pieces out of one yard of twill.
Place the ends of one piece of twill across one end of the folded fabric creating a loop and stitch securely to the fabric.
Stitch Across the Ends
Trim Off the Excess
Sew the Handles to the Fabric
The Finished Support Sling
With the aid of the dog sling, we comfortably stabilized Dolly so she could take care of business without falling down. She quickly adjusted to the process where we slipped one end of the support under her middle section and pulled the handles together above her back.
This machine washable sling is easy to make and requires only basic sewing skills. You'll spend less than two dollars on the cotton twill and thread. The reward for your time will be your dog's unfailing gratitude.
This device works best for a female dog.
Tip: Always be gentle when using the sling. Don't try to lift the dog with the support. Instead, place it under the dog's hind end once they are standing.
Caution: Never leave your pet in the sling without direct supervision.
Cookie and her Friend Tony
Cookie, Tony and the Cicadas
Fourteen year-old Cookie and Tony formed a lasting bond over the past five years since Tony was adopted. Years ago, Cookie was Dolly's nursemaid. Now, Tony keeps watch over her.
Cookie has Cushing's disease caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland. Although her strength is waning, we have experienced good results with a product available online from Pet Wellbeing called Adrenal Harmony Gold. The homeopathic remedy, in the form of liquid drops, is not a cure but it has proven helpful as she struggles with excessive thirst and frequent urination.
Adding the product to her food has helped to reduce her need to go outside up to five times an hour. Now, she can wait a few hours between times. Her level of anxiety is also reduced and her hair has started growing back in places where huge patches of fur had fallen out.
She's a Trooper
The time will come when she can no longer support herself, but for now, she has taken to this change in her routine with her usual optimism and good spirit. And for her, every day is a special day.
"Dog and Butterfly" - Heart
If You Don't Have a Sewing Machine
Here's an easier, non-sewing method of supporting your ailing dog made from a reusable canvas grocery bag. Watch as this veterinarian shows exactly how to make a support sling by cutting a canvas bag and how to effectively use it on your dog.
Whether your pet is recovering from surgery or they've reached an age where a little stability is helpful, your family dog or cat will appreciate the help this device can provide when they need to take care of business.
Here's a Non-Sewing Solution to Making a Support Sling
© 2015 Peg Cole