Dog Leg Braces – Viable Alternatives to Surgery
Canine leg injuries are very common in dogs, especially the aged dogs due to arthritis and deterioration in joints and muscles. When this happens, it can be especially troubling because they limit a dog’s ability to run, jump, and play. One of the most common injuries to this area include ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, known in dogs as CCL (canine cruciate ligament) tears. As any pet owner knows, watching our dogs struggle with injury or pain is one of the worst feelings in the world.
If your pup has suffered a CCL tear or other leg injuries, don’t panic! There are several different treatment options that can ease your pet’s pain and promote healing and long-term comfort.
Your Dog’s Surgery Alternatives & Surgical Treatment Options
If your pet has a leg injury, it is best to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best treatment option. In extreme cases, your vet might recommend surgery for the best chance at long-term recovery. However, in many cases, a dog may not be a good candidate for surgery due to health issues or advanced age. In addition, surgery such as to repair a torn ACL can be cost prohibitive, ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 per knee. Fortunately, when surgery is not an option, there are some non-invasive treatment plans that may work for you. Joint supplements (fish oil, turmeric, and glucosamine), diet and exercise changes, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, massage therapy, pain medication, and dog leg braces are all options that can help heal your pup.
How Does a Canine Leg Brace Work?
A dog leg brace, including front leg brace, rear leg brace, hock brace, elbow brace, knee or stifle brace, is a simple, non-invasive treatment for canine leg issues. In dogs, the stifle joint is the equivalent of the human knee, and a hock as human ankle, which is stabilized by ligaments. When those ligaments are damaged or torn, the joint becomes unstable and can cause pain, muscle deterioration, and lameness. A dog brace like stifle brace or leg brace, such as Neoally Pets’ Rear Leg Brace with Metal Spring Strips, is designed to immobilize the joint to promote stabilization and allow the joint to heal. Limiting the flexion and extension of the knee joint allows the scar tissue to form a callus over the tear for healing.
Stabilizing the stifle joint serves several purposes. First, it reduces pain and inflammation, making your furry friend much more comfortable. Second, it helps balance a dog’s back and hips, which can prevent damage to other limbs and joints. Unfortunately, more than half of dogs who suffer a CCL tear damage their other leg at some point in the future. A stifle brace prevents the dog from putting undue stress on their healthy leg, thus decreasing the chances of damage to that leg.
Easy to put on, braces are non-rigid and come in multiple sizes to fit comfortably on a range of medium, and large and x-large breed dogs. They can be worn during the day as needed and removed at night. All of Neoally Pets’ braces are waterproof so they’re designed to be worn while your dog is swimming or undergoing hydrotherapy. The length of time you use the brace depends on the extent of the injury to your pet’s leg, your pet’s age, and other factors. In some cases, 8–10 weeks might allow for sufficient healing, while in others, you might choose long-term usage of the brace when your dog is exercising to keep your dog comfortable and happy for the rest of their lives.
Other Uses for a Dog Leg Brace
In addition to helping with CCL tears and leg injuries, a dog leg brace can be used to give support to dogs with arthritis, knee sprains, or strains. Your veterinarian may recommend a knee brace if your dog shows signs of fatigue or limping. A stifle brace for dogs can be combined with medication, physical therapy, and other treatment options to serve as an affordable and effective alternative to surgery. The brace, however, can also help provide therapeutic support to protect the joint and promote healing after a dog undergoes surgery.
If your pet is suffering from a leg injury or simply a weak leg due to arthritis or aging, consult with your veterinarian and determine whether a leg brace might be the best choice for pain-free living.
Types of Dog Leg Braces
Based on the usage and support types, there are three types of dog leg braces:
- Non-rigid dog leg braces – just like the name suggests, this type of dog leg brace is made of neoprene and has no rigid inserts. It provides moderate support, and it has no restriction to dog’s leg movement. This non-rigid dog brace is best for dogs with minor leg injuries or weak legs, and the dogs can still bear weight on her legs.
- Dog leg braces with metal spring strips – this type of brace has dual metal spring strip inserts, which provide extra support to dogs’ legs, while metal spring strips are also flexible and give less restriction to dog movement. This semi-rigid brace is used for dogs with leg injuries and require support and stabilization to the legs.
- Rigid dog braces – this is the dog brace made of rigid materials and used to immobilize dog’s leg. This type of dog leg brace is mostly custom made to best fit dog’s leg. When dog gets an serious injury that requires the leg be completely immobilized or right after a surgery to allow rehab and recovery.