Need an emergency assist? We’ve been there. Our DIY emergency dog mobility support sling is soft, sturdy, washable, and suitable for large dogs like our boys. This is not the most exciting or glamorous DIY post we’ve shared here on the blog, but if it helps another dog owner at some point then it’s totally worth it. As shared in our post about dog cataract surgery, Oli’s temporary vision loss meant that we needed a pet sling. There was zero chance of buying one locally and no time for a special order. Oli is a big boy and lifting isn’t an easy task, so I quickly made one with materials on hand while they were on the drive home from surgery.
Emergency Dog Mobility Sling Options
Emergency Dog Mobility Sling Alternatives
With no time to special order or buy a dog support sling, I looked for alternatives. A quick Google search brought up several DIY dog slings made from cut and repurposed reusable shopping bags. We had a few around the house, but none that I would trust with Oli’s weight. Except perhaps the sturdy DIY fabric shopping bags I had sewn myself. Hmmm… Why not sew a purpose-made and sized emergency mobility sling instead? I was on it! But I needed to be quick and work with what supplies I had available to make an emergency sling before Oli’s arrival.
Supplies and Materials:
To make a similar emergency dog mobility sling, you will need:
- Soft but sturdy fabric(s) for the body of the sling
- Sturdy fabric or strapping for the handles
- Sewing machine and general cutting / sewing supplies
There was no time to shop for supplies, so I used materials already on hand. I decided to repurpose some old microfiber tea towels for the body (very strong, soft, and absorbent for any pee drizzle), scrap fabric for sturdy handles, and fleece material to make a cover. The cover makes the completed sling look tidy and adds durability, but it also ensures the edges are padded, soft, and low-pressure. Not the prettiest, but very fast and functional. It’s now kept with our emergency pet first aid supplies in case needed again in the future.
Making a DIY Dog Mobility Support Sling
Measuring for Fit
The right fit will depend on the dog and the situation. In my case, it was needed for stair support, not for flat ground or prolonged use. I wanted to give Oli as much support as I could with minimal pressure, so the sling was sized to go across his full underbelly and wrap halfway up his sides. Helpful Humphrey was my Oli stand-in for measurement and sizing estimates.
Making Our Emergency Sling
Making it was quick work. Good thing too, since I was in a hurry to finish before they arrived home! Here’s how the sling was put together.
Creating the body of the sling:
- Measure for fit (see above), if possible.
- Cut the covering fleece to the required size plus extra for folding over to wrap around the edges. I made the top and bottom fold over larger on my sling, but that was just for convenience. Fleece doesn’t fray, so the edges do not need to be finished, just secure.
- Fold or cut the lining material to the required size. My tea towels were an almost perfect size. They just needed a little fold-over to tweak the size slightly. I used two towels layered together for extra strength and plush softness in the sling.
- Position the lining and fleece covering.
- Fold and sew the side (head and tail) seams securely.
- Fold and sew the top (handle) seams securely. For a tidy finish, I folded the side edges in and under on slight angle, as shown, before sewing the top into position. I sewed these seams in two steps for each fold-over, sewing from the centre outwards (like quilting), to minimise the risk of bunching.
- Sew a seam across the midline. Again, I sewed this seam in two steps, sewing from the centre outwards to minimise bunching.
Creating handles for the sling:
- Customise the length of your straps to be at a comfortable height for you to hold and support the sling while in use, if possible. Crouching while helping dog in the sling is awkward, as my much taller husband now knows all too well. For strength and structure in the sling, my straps go all the way around the body (optional), so substantial additional length is required for attaching to the sling.
- Cut long narrow rectangular strips of sturdy fabric for making two handle straps. The handle fabric should be the desired length plus extra to attach to the sling. For strength, the strips I used used were four times the desired strap width, and folded into quarter layers. They’re constructed similar to making double fold binding tape.
- Fold each handle strip along the mid-line into half and iron to crease.
- Open, then re-fold each the side raw edges inwards to the centre crease and iron.
- Fold closed again along the original middle crease, with the raw edges folded inwards.
- Sew a narrow seam along the open edge to secure the folded layers closed in position.
- Sew a narrow seam at the same distance from the fold on the closed edge for security and a uniform finish.
Attaching handles to the sling:
The instructions and photos are for handles that pass under the full body, secured to the sling. This helps distribute the load and gives the sling extra stability and structure. You can adapt to attach differently, if you prefer.
- Pin the straps to create a hidden finished joining seam at each free end, making a large loop of fabric. This seam will be positioned at the middle of the underside of the sling.
- Position the straps on the outside (fleece cover side) of the sling. Take care to ensure that they are equally positioned, straight and square on the sling, and not crossed or looped. The folded joining seam should be neatly seated on the bottom on the sling body.
- Pin to secure. Double check positioning and length before you sew.
- Sew the handles to the sling following the existing stitch lines.
- Optional but recommended: Sew crossed boxes at the bottom of the straps (the joint) and near the top edges of the sling body to reinforce for added durability.
Ready for Dog Mobility Sling Support Duty!
Not the flashiest or most fun DIY (and I probably could have been a little neater with my rushed sewing…) but it was quick and easy to make. Our emergency dog mobility sling worked perfectly to help support Oli’s weight when assisting him in and out of the house over the changes in elevation for the door and steps at potty time. Since I was assisting solo, there are no in-use pictures.
I used a handled harness for gentle in-house guidance, but it wasn’t suitable for step support which was a two-handed (whew!) job for me. It would also have been an uncomfortable pressure on Oli with his weight in a strappy harness. Especially with a full bladder! On the subject of full bladders, I’m pleased to report that the sling also washed very well. It is now on-hand in our pet emergency kit in case one is ever needed in the future.