Our four-legged housemates are our companions, training partners, and often best friends. Walking, hiking, jogging, and running with our dogs stimulate them mentally and physically and increase our bond. So, when our pups begin to falter in their daily behaviors, we naturally want to do whatever possible to extend their active life.
Fortunately, there have been several developments in orthotic and prosthetic treatment options for pets. In particular, braces and wraps are increasingly popular for keeping dogs active longer, whether a knee brace for small dogs or a leg brace for larger hounds, many support options are available for dogs of all shapes and sizes.
What are Dog Leg Braces?
If you’ve ever played or watched pro sports, you’ve likely witnessed a player wearing or adjusting a knee, elbow, ankle or another type of brace. These various braces can offer additional support and comfort for body parts.
Dog leg braces perform the same service. A leg brace helps a dog to move with less pain or discomfort.
When is it Time to Use a Leg Brace?
Using a leg brace is usually a response to a change in a dog’s behavior or a result of a veterinary diagnosis. The problem is that dogs can not verbalize where the pain is or what is stressing them. Some conditions are caused by physical activity, but some may result from predispositions based on the breed or specific injuries.
Leg and knee injuries aren’t frequent for smaller breeds since their size and weight are more proportionate to each other. However, luxating patella (MPL or LPL) is more common in small breeds. Signs a dog may need a leg brace can consist of the following:
- Limping or an altered gait
- Noticeable pain or discomfort when moving/walking
- Pain to the touch in certain areas
- Loss of coordination or agility
- Dragging a foot
- Slow to get up from lying down
Of course, these symptoms can be signs of many conditions and should be followed up with a veterinarian. If they are specific to the legs, a brace may offer the support and pain management needed to keep a dog moving.
What are the Different Types of Dog Braces Available?
One of the most common areas to brace is the knee or stifle joint, which requires a high-quality custom product for the best results. The wrist/carpus and ankle/tarsus are common areas to use a brace to support." It’s even possible to design prosthetic limbs for dogs.
- Stifle (knee) brace - Focuses on increased stabilization of rear legs, knees, and kneecaps, reduces the risk of injury to ACL, CCL, and other ligaments, and can be used in place of surgery for some patients. Knee braces are some of the most popular types of braces for dogs.
- Tarsus (rear foot) brace - Helps protect Achilles tendon, tarsal, and metatarsal areas post-injury.
- Carpus (front leg) brace - Effective in stabilizing and fixing bones, ligaments, and joints to promote healing and long-term mobility.
- Elbow brace - Works to reduce the effects of osteoarthritis or dynamic elbow luxation.
- Spinal or cervical brace - Helps support/reduce spinal sagging and assists in surgical recovery.