Braces for Injured Dogs

As a nature lover, I hate seeing any living thing in pain.  While on a photography trip to Los Angeles, I was walking through some of the neighborhood and notice a dog limping.  He is one of those very cute dog, my best guess would be some sort of a Husky Pomeranian Mix.  He was left on the street in pain.  I looked around and no one seem to care, so I picked him up and brought him to the veterinarian hospital.  I learned a lot from the doctor there and found out that this dog needed braces.  Here is what I have learned from that experience.


Dog braces can be very helpful tools for canines that are unable to walk properly due to an injury or condition of the leg. Just like humans, dogs can develop muscle, joint, and bone problems that make the legs unstable or painful to use. Dog braces help to support the affected leg so that the animal can regain a normalized gait. Any dog owner whose pet is living a less-than-full life due to a leg issue may want to consider the leg brace as a possible remedy.


vet hospitalWhat Are Dog Braces?


A dog brace is a support device that is typically made of a durable cloth, metal or plastic, and resilient foam padding. The device is designed to mold to a certain part of the dog’s leg where it can support and immobilize a specific joint or joints. Braces are fitted with straps that circle around the leg in order to keep the device firmly in place as the animal moves around. There are several different types of dog braces, such as the carpal brace, elbow brace, tarsal brace, hock brace, and stifle brace. Each of these devices is designed to support a specific part of the leg by relieving pressure, restricting unwanted movements, and lending strength to certain joint, bone, or set of muscles.


The brace must be an exact fit for the dog’s leg. This is important because a brace that is too large won’t be able to support the leg while a brace that is too tight could cause damage to the limb due to increased pressure. No two dogs have the exact same legs. Just like a human, each dog has specific measurements that are special to him or her. The best way to get an exact fit for the dog is to make a plaster mold of the animal’s leg, similar to a cast. This is often done at a veterinary office where the mold can be sent directly to the company that will create the custom brace.


What Conditions Require the Use of Dog Braces?


The greatest percentage of braces are used during the recovery process. A dog that has suffered an injury to one of the bones, joints, or muscles in the leg may require a brace to support the injured limb until it has recovered enough to be used on its own. Being hit by a car, jumping from a high place, or being attacked by another animal are just a few of the possible ways that a dog might sustain a serious leg injury requiring the use of a support device.


An injury isn’t the only reason a dog might require a brace, however. Conditions such as arthritis, ligament inflammation, tendonitis, and osteoporosis may also bring about the need to use a leg support device. Braces may also be used after surgery to prevent the dog from moving around too much or it could be used as a long-term alternative to surgery.


How Are Dog Braces Applied?


As mentioned earlier, a dog brace contains several bands to help secure the device to the dog’s leg. The way that a brace is applied to the leg will primarily depend on what type of brace is being used. Most braces may simply be fitted over the appropriate area. The straps, which feed through rings or openings in the brace’s frame, then wrap around the part of the leg that is not enclosed in the brace. The straps may be adjusted to obtain a snug fit. Ankle or paw braces might be easier to apply with two people as this brace often encloses the bottom, sides, and tip of the paw. Having one person to immobilize the dog while the other person fits the brace will make the task much easier and quicker.


What Are Canine Prosthetics?


Canine prosthetics serve the same purpose as human prosthetics. A prosthetic limb is an artificial limb that is specifically designed to replace a lost or unformed limb. A dog may lose a limb through a disease, degenerative condition, or injury. It is also possible that a dog may be born with a limb that did not form properly during gestation. Canine prosthetics come in many designs depending on one’s budget and the needs of the dog. Most prosthetic devices are made of composite plastic or carbon fiber and are fitted to the dog using a series of straps. A prosthetic device may not be suitable for all disabled dogs, however, as the device does require a certain amount of bone available to which the device can be fitted.


Can a Canine Prosthetic Restore a Dog’s Mobility?


A canine prosthetic can certainly enable a dog to regain his or her mobility, but there are limitations. Depending on the dog’s specific disability and the prosthetic with which it is fitted, the dog may be able to walk with a relatively normal gait but he or she may not be able to run as steadily or perform agility exercises. For most dogs with prosthetic limbs, the device helps to reinstate the animal’s basic freedom to come and go but it won’t necessarily enable the dog to perform complicated movements such as jumping up and down from a car or swimming in a lake. Each dog is different and can display a different level of adaptability.

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