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Case Study: Tula – Labrador Retriever With A CCL Injury

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Tula, a 60-pound, 11.5-year-old Labrador retriever with a CCL tear

Case of Interest: Tula is a happy-go-lucky senior Labrador whose family pursued a custom knee brace and physical therapy for her CCL injury instead of surgery.  Whenever possible, we at My Pet’s Brace recommend combining physical therapy with bracing to aid in the healing process.

Tula lives with her family in Colorado.  A local veterinarian took a cast of Tula’s leg, the cast was mailed to our fabrication facility in Pennsylvania and the completed stifle brace was shipped to the owner one week later.

Diagnostic History: In November 2019, Tula was having the time of her life, running in circles, stopping, and running in circles in the other direction. Then she made that fateful wrong step, yelped and began limping on her left hind leg.

Her regular veterinarian diagnosed her with a fully torn left CCL and recommended TPLO surgery. They said her only other option was crate rest. 

The owner was concerned about surgery due to Tula’s age.  She did her own online research and found us, My Pet’s Brace, in Pennsylvania.  She purchased a casting kit from our facility and a different veterinarian used the materials to create a cast of Tula’s leg.  The cast was mailed to us in Pennsylvania.

The stifle brace was fabricated and mailed to Colorado, where Tula received it on Dec 23rd, 2019 which happened to be her 12th birthday!  The stifle brace controls the anterior drawer movement of the tibia.  Her owner said, “As soon as I put the brace on she started walking on all fours! She knew it was helpful right away.”

Follow-Ups: Tula continued to progress with the help of her brace and began bearing more weight on her left hind leg. However, the owner was still concerned about the atrophy in her hind end.

Tula’s owner found a local canine rehab facility. Tula started with traditional ground-based therapy that focused on balance and strengthening exercises. She also did hydrotherapy, walking on a water treadmill.

She has begun weaning off the brace for local walks and potty breaks but always has it on when she goes for hikes, is in the creek, or playing with other dogs. She is now back to her normal goofy Labrador personality and is not going to be stopped any time soon!  Her owner said, “The turning point was when she visibly had more muscle strength in her left hind leg/gluts. She walks comfortably and confidently in the neighborhood without her brace.  Tula’s custom brace is the best decision I have made as a dog mom.”

How We Fabricate A Dog Brace – Each Device Starts With A Single Cast

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

Many clients are surprised to discover that all our dog braces are made locally in our Morgantown, Pennsylvania facility. This provides us with complete control over the manufacturing and the quality of the braces that go out our doors. It also means that if a brace is returned to us for a repair, we usually can make that repair the very same day we receive the brace and get it back out to you.  So how do we create that brace that is going to give your dog a happier life?

Casting of Smokey's Leg

The process starts with a cast of your dog’s leg. Obtaining a well molded cast is especially important since the cast forms the foundation for the brace. Just as a well-built house depends on a good foundation, a well-fitting brace starts with a good cast. The cast can be taken by us, at one of our two clinics in Pennsylvania or by your local veterinarian. If your local vet is taking the cast, we recommend they watch the casting video on our website as it gives several tips on how to make an appropriate cast.

Cast Filled With Plaster

Once we have the cast, it is filled with plaster to create an impression of your dog’s leg. After the plaster cures, our technicians modify the cast to create a replica of your dog’s leg. It is during the modification process that we incorporate the bumps and nuances of your dog’s leg so that the finished brace will be comfortable and not cause any discomfort to the dog.

Making A Dog Brace

From there, the plaster cast is moved to the molding department where the brace is built from the inside out. Cushioning foam is placed over the plaster mold. This will add padding to the brace and make it more comfortable for the dog to wear. And, because it is a closed-cell foam, it will not absorb moisture or bacteria. Next, joints which allow motion if required are placed on the mold and finally, co-polypropylene, a medical-grade plastic, is heated to make it pliable then vacuumed sealed around the cast. Excess plastic is removed from the mold and the brace is cut from the plaster cast.

Making A Brace

Now the brace is off to be machined. All edges are carefully sanded to create a smooth edge. Great care is taken during the machining process to be sure all edges are smoothed and rounded as any rough edges could cause irritation to the dog’s leg.

Sewing At My Pet's Brace

From machining, the brace moves to finishing. There straps and buckles are added to the brace. If it is a carpal or hock brace, padding is added to provide cushioning under the paw and heavy tread is glued to the bottom to create the sole of the brace. At this point, we also make the suspension sleeve and any pads that are needed. The sewing machine hums, the screws are tightened, the glue cures, and the brace is finally finished. Well, almost…

Dog Knee Brace

The final step before the brace leaves the manufacturing department is a quality assurance check. Everything from the brace color, to the screws and buckles, to the strap sizes, and general overall appearance of the brace is thoroughly checked to make sure we are sending out the best product possible. Only after the brace passes a rigorous inspection check and is signed off does it leave the department to proceed on the final leg of its journey where it is shipped to the client’s home or veterinarian clinic.

Case Study: Miss Winfrey – Boxer with Bilateral CCL Injuries

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Miss Winfrey, a 60 pound, 6-year-old Boxer who sustained a left CCL tear in 2017 and a right CCL tear in 2018.

Case of Interest: According to many published studies and research, if a dog injures one CCL there is a 50-60% chance of the dog rupturing the contralateral CCL. However, our own experiences do not mirror this percentage.

According to our patient reported outcomes survey in 2020, only 18% of dogs injure the opposite CCL after receiving their initial stifle brace.[1] Unfortunately, Miss Winfrey was one such dog in that minority.

Diagnostic History: Miss Winfrey slid across their kitchen floor and became three-legged lame. After her orthopedic evaluation, Miss Winfrey was diagnosed with a chronic CCL tear in her left stifle with a suspected meniscus tear.

Miss Winfrey presented to our clinic in early December 2017 favoring her left hind leg while standing and walking.  We took a cast of her leg and fitted her with a left stifle brace. She wore her left stifle brace for 9 months during her waking hours.

The stifle brace is designed specifically for CCL injuries. An anterior strap is fitted to resist tibial thrust during extension. The resistance to the cranial movement of the tibia reduces the pressure that is put on the injured CCL and the scarification that is occurring. The brace is also designed with hard physical stops which do not allow hyperextension of the stifle, further reducing the strain on the ligament.

In December 2018, she was running around in the backyard when she yelped and began favoring her right hind leg. Her veterinarian diagnosed her with a CCL tear in the right stifle.

She returned to our clinic in mid-January 2019 for a right stifle brace. The original left stifle brace was also cleaned and the straps were replaced.

The owner was instructed to have Miss Winfrey wear the original left stifle brace during the break-in period for the new right stifle brace to give her additional stability. She was also instructed to wear both stifle braces during walks and active periods to ensure ample support during these times.

Follow-Ups: Miss Winfrey returned to My Pet’s Brace for several check-up appointments during 2018 and 2019. She was able to transition from wearing both braces and on restricted activity to being able to go back to her normal lifestyle.  She no longer wears either brace, is bearing full weight on both rear legs and is thriving!

Watch Miss Winfrey with and without her two knee braces.

[1] My Pet’s Brace emailed a Knee Brace Follow Up Survey in January 2020 to pet owners whose dog received a stifle brace for CCL injury between 2015-2018. Out of 687 survey responses, 123 or 17.9% of owners reported their dog sustained a CCL injury on the opposite leg after receiving a stifle brace for a CCL injury on the initially injured leg.

Coping During the Coronavirus – New Processes

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

In mid-March, thanks to the coronavirus, the world spun off its axis. Our world has certainly changed since then, and we have had to change with it. In many ways, we are in uncharted territory. As we strive to provide you and your dog with the best care possible, it means we are doing things differently from the way we previously did them, at least for the foreseeable future.

Morgantown, PA Facility
We have started seeing dogs at our Morgantown facility again, but we are doing curbside appointments on a limited schedule to minimize personal contact. When you arrive at the clinic, you will remain in your car and call us to let us know you have arrived.

Casting of Smokey's Leg

Over the phone, we will review information with you and get your credit card or Care Credit information along with your color choice for the brace. You will then be transferred to the clinician who will review your dog’s case with you and answer any questions you may have. The clinician will then come to the car to get your dog and will return your dog after the cast is completed.

Braces will be shipped to the client’s home. All braces come with written instructions explaining how to put the brace on the dog’s leg. We also have detailed videos on our website showing how to put the brace on.

If you have any questions about the fit of the brace of your dog’s progress, please feel free to email photos of the brace on your dog or video of your dog walking in the brace. A clinician will gladly review the photos and video and respond to you with their comments and suggestions.  If needed, extra padding or straps can be mailed to you directly.

Pittsburgh, PA Facility
At our Pittsburgh location, we are scheduling appointments on a reduced schedule. You are welcome inside the building with your dog. We kindly ask you to wear a mask, maintain social distancing as much as possible and reschedule if you have been in contact with or exhibiting any symptoms. As always, contact us if you have any questions or concerns with your dog’s brace or their progress.

Out of State Patients
For all our clients that live too far away to come to the Pennsylvania clinics, the casting and bracing process remains the same as it has always been. You will need to have a cast made of your dog’s leg and sent to us to enable us to make the brace.

Please be aware that we are doing everything possible during this crisis to still be available to help you and your dog. If you have any problems or issues with the brace, just remember we are only a phone call or email away. Videos and photos will help us to troubleshoot any issues you may have, so please do not hesitate to send them to us. As we repeatedly hear, “We are in this together,” and together we will do all that we can to help your dog live a happier life.

Weight, Joint Issues & Leg Braces

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

A sad fact is the more excess weight a dog carries the more likely it is to have joint issues and develop osteoarthritis. Excess weight puts additional stress and strain on joints. When dogs are overweight, they tend to be more lethargic, resulting in poor muscle tone and reduced ability to keep joints stabilized and supported.

Research has shown that fat tissue is active. It secretes chemicals and hormones – namely leptin, a hormone that gets into joints and causes inflammation. It may also contribute to changes in the bone that affect osteoarthritis. The point is that excess fat contributes to degenerative joint disease and joint inflammation. Joints problems result in weakened ligaments and tendons leading to injuries.

Now that you know the heavier your dog is the more likely it is to have joint problems the question becomes, what do you do about it?

Ideally, the best answer would be to not let your dog pack on those extra pounds in the first place. However, most of us are not too good about that. So, here are a few tips to help prevent those extra pounds from settling around your dog’s waistline.

First, make sure the daily food ration is the appropriate type and amount for your dog. Serious working dogs require a high protein food to keep them well fueled for their active days. While the 12-year-old dog that spends its day lounging on the couch requires far less protein in its food. Feeding package guidelines assume the dog is of moderate activity level.

Second, if training your dog with treats, keep in mind the size of the treat given and the overall daily amount of food consumed. If you are doing numerous training sessions daily, those treats have calories so slightly reduce the amount of food your dog receives for its morning and evening meals.

Keep in mind dogs don’t care what they get for treats, so consider giving low calorie treats such as green beans or slices of carrots. Fresh fruit is another treat option dogs frequently like, especially those sweet summer fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe.

Trying to prevent joint injuries and taking care of them once they occur is a multi-dimensional endeavor.  Many dogs with joint issues can benefit from a custom dog leg brace.  Once the joint is supported, it is more comfortable for your dog to walk and play.  An active dog is more likely to lose those extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.

Monitoring your dog’s food intake and seeing it gets ample exercise will help to keep its weight in check and its muscles strong to provide good joint support. Finding the right solution for an injured joint, be it surgery or a brace, and then striving to get your dog to an acceptable weight will go a long way in helping your pet to live a healthier, happier life.

4 Guidelines When Fitting A Knee Brace For A CCL Injury

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

You are helping a client fit a knee brace on their dog for the first time. You or your client may be asking: Is it fitting correctly? Is it too low? Too high? Is that gapping okay? The knee pad isn’t touching the dog’s knee. Is that right? Here are 4 guidelines to follow when fitting knee brace for a CCL injury.

1) Question: Is The Brace Too High Or Too Low On The Dog’s Leg?

Dog Knee Brace

To determine where the brace should sit on the leg, first locate the tibial crest and patella. Just between these two points is where the joint axis of the brace should sit. This will align the brace’s mechanical joint with the stifle’s anatomical joint. This enables ease of movement and maximum stability.

Fitting Guideline

A line is drawn on the suspension sleeve indicating where we believe the brace and suspension sleeve should attach to each other according to the cast taken of the dog’s leg. Detach the suspension sleeve from the brace (it is attached with Velcro) and move the brace above or below the line to make the brace sit higher or lower on the dog’s leg.

To determine if the positioning is correct, undo all the straps and put the knee in flexion so that it is bent at around 90°. Bend the brace so that it is also at a 90° angle at the joint. Place the brace onto the dog’s leg while still flexed. This will force the anatomical and mechanical joints to align. Cycle the leg through flexion and extension to ensure proper alignment and there is no excess gapping or pinching. Starting distally and moving proximally, tighten the straps to the proper tightness and cycle the leg through flexion and extension again.

If, when the brace is aligned with the anatomical joint, the suspension sleeve straps should be lying just proximal to the calcaneus on the Achilles tendon. If they are below the calcaneus, then remove the suspension sleeve from the brace and reattach it proximally so that the straps sit just above the calcaneus.

2) Question: Is The Brace Too Tall On The Inside Of The Groin?

If the brace is too tall, the dog can experience irritation in the inguinal area. As the leg flexes and extends, contact with the abdomen could push the brace down, which can cause the brace to slide distally or cause sores on the anterior and posterior areas of the hock.

Fitting Guideline

For dogs 40 lbs. and over, there should be 3-4 finger widths between the top of the brace and the inside of the groin. For dogs 40 lbs. and smaller, there should be 2-3 finger widths. This allows for enough room between the top of the brace and the stomach for flexion and extension of the leg as well as comfort when the dog is sitting or lying down.

If the brace is too tall, the brace will need to be mailed to us so we can trim down the upper cuff of the brace.

3) Question: Why Isn’t The Knee Pad Touching Or Tighter Against The Dog’s Leg?

The knee pad’s function is to resist tibial thrust which occurs when the leg is straight but does not occur when the leg is bent.

The knee pad sits on the tibial crest to resist the tibial thrust at its source. The knee pad will be in contact with the tibia when the leg is fully extended. When the dog is standing or flexing their leg, the knee pad will not be in contact with the leg and may look loose. This gapping is normal.

Fitting Guideline

The knee strap is pre-adjusted with a white line indicating the tightness of the strap. Tighten or loosen the strap accordingly if the knee pad does not meet the tibial crest when the leg is fully extended.

4) Question: Is There Supposed To Be Gapping Between The Brace and The Dog’s Knee?

The gapping around the knee is normal as the muscles around the knee change shape during flexion and extension. Excessive gapping can be caused if the brace is sitting too low or distally on the knee. It that case it may need to be moved more proximally on the suspension sleeve.

Fitting Guideline

If you undo the front knee strap and press the brace back against the dog’s leg, the brace will be in total contact around the dog’s knee. When the knee strap is engaged, it utilizes the entirety of the brace as leverage to press caudally on the tibia. This causes the brace to move forward slightly, creating the gapping of the brace around the knee.

These are general guidelines on the fit of a stifle brace. However, every dogs’ anatomy and brace are unique. If you have any questions or concerns about how a brace is fitting your patient, please email us pictures of the dog wearing the brace and call us to speak with one of our clinicians.

Wear & Tear On A Dog Brace

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

You’ve had your dog’s leg brace for a few months, and everything is going well until you notice that one of the straps is wearing out. Now what?

Never fear, we stand behind our dog braces and try to make replacing parts as easy as possible. Straps, pads, buckles, soles, foam liners and suspension sleeves are covered under our 90-day warranty.

Well Used Dog Knee Braces
Well Used Knee Braces

We keep measurements of all the straps, so we know the exact size of the items on your dog’s brace.  This means that all you need to do is call us or send us an email telling us what parts you need.  We will gladly send the parts out to you in the mail.  Straps are easily changed with a flathead screwdriver.

If you need a part we can’t mail to you, like a sole or foam lining, the brace will need to be brought or mailed back to us for maintenance.  These repairs will be done the same day or mailed out the following business day.

What if your dog chewed a strap? The same procedure applies, the items are still covered under the 90-day warranty.  If your dog does chew anything, it’s usually when you first get the brace.  Keep in mind, your dog should be supervised the entire break-in period as they do not yet understand what the brace is or why they are wearing it. 

However, having the dog chew the straps or pads could mean that something is irritating your dog’s leg.  Be sure to check your dog’s leg carefully at the site of the chewed item. Is hair rubbing off? Does it look like an irritation may be starting? If so, please take a picture of the dog in the brace and another picture without the brace, clearly showing the rub mark or irritation and email those pictures to us. We will have a clinician review the photos and determine what steps to take to solve the issue.

So, what do you do if your dog chews the plastic portion of the brace? The plastic is warrantied for one year, so there is no fee for refurbishment during this time.  In order to repair any chewed portions of the plastic, the brace will need to be returned to us.  If the brace arrives early in the day, we will repair it the same day it arrives and send it out to you. If we can’t get it out the same day it arrives, it will be sent out the following business day.

It is normal wear and tear on a brace for straps and other parts to need to be replaced over time.  How long items last depends on your dog, their activity level and their environment.  It is standard for straps and soling to need to be replaced every six months to a year.  Once the 90-day warranty has expired, there is just a small charge per item. 

We understand making a good quality product is only half the job. Standing behind our product completes our responsibility. Our top-notch customer service and fabrication team are here to ensure that your dog’s brace stays in tip-top shape for as long as they wear it.

Case Study: Ginny – Bluetick Coonhound with Neosporosis

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Ginny, 50 pound, a 1-year-old Bluetick Coonhound with Neosporosis causing hind leg abnormalities.

Case of Interest: Due to an unexpected illness, Ginny’s mobility and range of motion in both of her rear legs completely changed.  She was fitted with a custom stifle brace that mitigated the effects of her condition and improved her quality of life.

Diagnostic History: Ginny was seen by her veterinarian for lameness in her right hind leg after playing in a dog park with a few other dogs. As the months progressed, lameness increased and was not improving with medication. She was eventually diagnosed with Neospora, a parasite found primarily in cattle and canines.

Neosporosis in canines typically does not show signs or symptoms but can be associated with hindlimb atrophy and/or hindlimb paresis and rigidness. Ginny’s illness progressed until she had a totally rigid right stifle and hock and a weak left stifle and hock.

When Ginny bears weight onto her left hind leg, she collapses medially at the hock and has a valgus conformation at the stifle and hock as well as internal rotation of the hip and stifle. Her right hind leg is rigid at the stifle and hock and she bears weight on the medial aspect of the digits.

Her veterinarian recommended a left stifle brace to reduce the stress and pressure on the medial collateral ligament, cranial and caudal cruciate ligaments and the meniscus. 

A brace was created to reduce the stresses in Ginny’s stifle and slow the progress of the degradation of the joint. The brace was fabricated with extra padding where the stress would be transferred. It was based on a three-point pressure system where the pressure that was exerted on the medial aspect of the stifle would be transferred and spread out to the lateral side of the thigh and calf. The joints allowed normal range of motion but resisted motion medio-laterally.

Follow-Ups: Ginny returned to My Pet’s Brace three-weeks and three-months after the fitting of her brace. Her family said, “The brace has helped Ginny astronomically. Before she was struggling to use the restroom because of the unique shape of her left leg and not having the proper support needed. With the brace, she uses the restroom with no issues and it appears to be easier for her during the bathroom process. Ginny is also able to run and play with other dogs because of the added support. When she has the brace on there is a noticeable improvement in her walking, without the brace she uses her right leg (peg leg) more frequently whereas with the brace it is more balanced.”

The Big Day Has Arrived – Brace Delivery at a My Pet’s Brace Facility

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

The day the brace is delivered, you arrive excited and concerned – wondering how your dog will respond to the device. Fear not, as our adaptable canines usually take to the whole process much better than we would. Since knowing what to expect makes it easier for everyone, here’s a glimpse into what will happen that day.

Dog With Knee Brace For ACL

With minor exceptions, the delivery process for braces is similar whether we are fitting a stifle (knee), carpal, hock, or elbow brace. Since the stifle brace for a torn cruciate ligament is the most common brace we make, we’ll focus on that one.

The clinician will begin by reviewing the various brace parts – pointing out the different straps and pads and explaining their purpose. Special attention is paid to the suspension sleeve as that piece is responsible for suspending, hence the name suspension sleeve, the brace on the dog’s leg.

Next, the clinician will demonstrate putting the brace on your dog’s leg which begins with powdering the suspension sleeve. Powdering is very important as it helps to reduce friction and the chance of irritations. Starting from the bottom up, the clinician will put the brace on your dog’s leg attaching each strap and explaining how to tell if the strap is adjusted correctly.

Once the brace is on, the clinician will check the fit. Sometimes, the brace or the suspension sleeve needs adjusting. If that is the case, the clinician will make those necessary adjustments.

Following the adjustments, the brace is placed on the dog’s leg again and the clinician will double check the fit to make sure everything is correct. Satisfied, the clinician will have you slowly walk your dog up and down the hallway several times. This walk enables us to “see the brace in action”, see how the dog is taking to it, and check for slipping or pinching.

If everything looks good, the clinician will mark the straps. Marking the straps means that a white mark is placed on each strap aligning it to the buckles. This makes putting the brace on easier as it tells you how tightly to pull the straps.

Now it’s your turn to put the brace on. Just like anything new, people feel like they are all thumbs when putting the brace on for the first few times. This is totally normal. After doing this a few times, you will be able to put the brace on and take it off easily. Practicing putting the brace on while here in the clinic is very important. It enables you to get a feel for the process and allows us to make sure you understand how the brace goes on and how snuggly it should fit.

Sometimes, you need to practice putting the brace on more than once. Don’t worry, if you get home and can’t remember how to put the brace on, we have a detailed video on our website showing the process:

It’s important to note that, with rare exceptions, there is a break-in period for all braces. Initially, the dog starts by wearing the brace for 3 hours per day for stifle braces and 2 hours per day for all other braces. That wearing time increases by 1 hour daily until the dog is wearing the brace full-time. All clients leave the clinic with a wearing schedule, written instructions for putting the brace on, instructions for accessing the video on our website showing how to put the brace on, and a reminder to call us with any questions or concerns they may have. We schedule follow-up care in three weeks and thereafter at regular intervals.  By working together, we can provide your dog with the best fitting leg brace to help their orthotic problem.

Case Study: Hannibull – A Cadaver Dog With A CCL Injury

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Hannibull, a 55-pound, 9-year old working dog with a Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tear on his left hind leg.

Case of Interest: Hannibull is an active cadaver dog.  He is trained to detect human remains and alert his handler. He is a working dog that needed support for his CCL injury so he could continue his job. 

Hannibal with Knee Brace

Diagnostic History: Hannibull injured his leg while playing in his yard in early September 2018. He was seen by his veterinarian shortly after and was diagnosed with a CCL tear on his left hind leg. The decision was made to pursue a custom stifle brace for his injury due to the amount of activity that his job required. He was seen at the My Pet’s Brace clinic about a week after the injury for the casting of his leg.  He returned the next day for the fitting of the brace.

The stifle brace is designed specifically for CCL injuries. An anterior strap is fitted to resist tibial thrust during extension. The resistance to the cranial movement of the tibia reduces the pressure that is put on the injured CCL and the scarification that is occurring. The brace is also designed with hard physical stops which do not allow hyperextension of the stifle, further reducing the strain on the ligament.

Follow-Ups: He was seen multiple times at our clinic for check-ups on his progress and brace maintenance. In January 2019, he returned to our facility to have a second, spare brace manufactured. This second brace was used when his original brace was dirty or undergoing maintenance. He wore his stifle brace for nine months. He no longer wears his brace and has regained full weight-bearing and function. Nothing is slowing him down.

Let’s Talk About Casting

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

Many people are concerned about having the cast made of their dog’s leg. Believe it or not, the casting process is simple. It is non-invasive, doesn’t hurt the dog, and is finished in under five minutes. So how does the magic work?

We or your local veterinarian professional make the cast while your dog is in a natural standing position. If the injury is such that the dog cannot put any weight on the leg, the cast can be done with the dog lying down. To keep the dog comfortable, someone will support the dog’s weight during the casting process. At our facilities, you the owner, is with your dog the entire time offering help and a calming voice.

First a cotton stockinette is placed over the affected leg. This is a light-weight fabric, heavier than a nylon stocking but lighter than a regular sock, which goes over the dog’s leg to prevent the casting material from sticking to the hair. For those hairy dogs, we gather that excess hair and compress it into the stockinette eliminating the need to shave the leg. That makes everyone very happy!

Next, a piece of surgical tubing is placed vertically on the lateral or outside along the length of the dog’s leg.

Casting of a Dog's Leg

The fiberglass casting tape is soaked in tepid water for about 10 seconds. This activates the ingredients in the tape. The casting tape is wrapped fairly snuggly around the leg and over the tubing overlapping the fiberglass in two to three layers. For hock and carpal braces, the entire foot in included in the casting process. The casting material is then massaged well to facilitate a good impression of the dog’s leg and the location of the surgical tubing is marked with a marker.

Once the casting tape starts to setup, which only takes about a minute or two, the practitioner cuts along the marked surgical tubing with a utility knife. With the cast cut open, the clinician uses scissors to cut the stockinette. The cast is then slipped from the dog’s leg, stapled together, and allowed to harden. Voila – we now have a cast of your dog’s leg.

We have videos on our website that show in more detail how a cast is taken for each type of custom brace we make.  You and veterinarians can watch the videos to understand and learn the casting process.

The cast will be filled with plaster and an exact replica will be made of your dog’s leg. Using that plaster replica, we create the custom-fitted brace so that we can get your dog on the road to recovery. Whether we are making a stifle, carpal, hock, or elbow brace, a well-made cast is the basis for a comfortable, functional brace that will help your pet live a happier life.

Case Study: Leo – A Springer Spaniel With Double Jointed Hock Brace for Knuckling

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

Patient: Leo, a 45-pound, 8-month-old English Springer Spaniel with nerve damage causing knuckling on the left hind leg.

Diagnostic History: Leo was playing with their neighbor’s dog when he fell and was impaled on a rebar stake that was sticking out of the ground. The rebar entered through his back to the left of his spinal cord, transected through his abdomen, and exited cranially and distally from the hip joint, through the tensor fascia lata.

Once he was freed, he was rushed to the emergency veterinarian. There was no major damage to any internal organs. 

He made a full recovery but continued to knuckle on his left hind leg due to nerve damage.  This began to produce sores and abrasions on the cranial aspect of his paw.  As Leo was not fully weight-bearing on that leg, his muscles were starting to atrophy.

Leo was seen at My Pet’s Brace in October 2019. It was observed that he was knuckling and had noticeable atrophy to his quadriceps and hamstrings on his left hind leg. He had acceptable range of motion in his hip, stifle, and hock.

My Pet’s Brace fabricated a double-jointed hock brace with a paw pad.  The brace was made with two sets of joints to provide the greatest range of motion.  The first set of joints allows movement at the hock and the second set of joints allows movement at the tarsal.

The brace’s function is to provide stability to Leo’s tarsal and hock joints and keep the paw from knuckling. This was done by supporting the paw from below and removing the ability to hyperflex in the tarsal joint.  Unable to knuckle, Leo can walk normally, bear weight on the leg and build back the muscles in his leg.

Follow-Ups: Leo has returned regularly for check-ups and general maintenance of the brace. Upon his last check-up the abrasions have closed, and the fur is beginning to grow back on the cranial aspect of his paw. He is a young active dog that can now walk and play like a normal dog with the help of his brace. 

Year End Reflections

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

As the year comes to a close and we pause to reflect, I’d like to give you a glimpse into the feelings and thoughts of the people who keep the wheels turning, or shall I say “keep the dogs walking” at My Pet’s Brace.

Staff Photo at My Pet’s Brace

Each one of us realizes we have the privilege of working in a very niche industry. With so few companies making devices for animals, we are aware of the huge responsibility that rests on our shoulders to help these animals. Each dog that comes to us is a new challenge because every dog is different. Dogs may share the same injury, but their anatomy is different, their personality is different, their environment is different, and their owner is different. Each dog is unique, and we strive to treat them as such.

Some dogs come to us with unbridled enthusiasm – happy to face new people and places. Those are the easy ones. Others are very frightened and require extra time and a very gentle touch. Some, although few, are aggressive and require not only extra time, but also caution. Others we only know by leg and a phone call (casts shipped to us from all over the world).  We gladly take whatever time is needed to see that each dog has a positive experience with us and their brace.

Corrinne, a My Pet’s Brace Clinician, taking measurements for a stifle brace

We have had the opportunity to help over 1,500 dogs with custom leg braces and prosthetics this year alone.  As you can see, some cases have been truly unique. 

Nya came to us following a serious accident where both front legs were severely injured. She had the wonderful fortune of being treated by a veterinarian that completed a complicated surgery where she reattached the pads of the amputated paw to the bottom of the front leg and surgically saved the other front leg with an external fixator. Following the removal of the fixator, Nya came to us for a carpal brace for that leg and is now living a very happy life.

Ginny came to us with an unusual disease that caused severe muscle deterioration and mal alignment of her back legs, necessitating a stifle brace to keep her mobile.

When these special cases appear, all of us come to watch and cheer as the animals take their first steps toward a better life.

All our employees are intense animal lovers and come to work each day ready to serve those creatures that need our help. Many bring exceptional knowledge, beyond the basic love and medical expertise required to help the animals that pass through our doors.

Val, a My Pet’s Brace Clinician, taking a cast of a dog’s leg

One employee was involved with the training of search and rescue dogs with the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, another spent years working in a boarding kennel and evaluating dogs for group interactions so that all dogs involved could interact peacefully without confrontation. Another employee trained dogs in obedience and agility, spent more than a decade as a groomer, and donated countless hours fostering dogs for rescue, while yet another employee grew up on a farm raising and showing livestock in 4-H competitions. We also have three vet techs with decades worth of care and expertise.

How many people get to say they love what they do? Fortunately, we do. As the year ends, we realize our ability to help injured animals is what keeps us going and striving to constantly improve our product.  It’s knowing that every day we can make a difference not only for the animal, but also the owner.

It’s what makes our customer service exceptional – knowing that the faster we respond to our customers, the faster their pet is going to feel better. It’s knowing that when distraught owners call, we feel their anxiety and concern. It’s knowing that when owners call and tell us their pet has passed away, we understand the pain and intense loss they experience.

As animal lovers, our job is bittersweet – we are sorry that we see injured animals every day, yet we are thrilled to be able to provide a product and service that makes their lives better. To all our referring veterinarians and past and future clients, we say thank you for entrusting your pets to us. From all the employees here at My Pet’s Brace, we wish you and all the pets in your life a happy, safe, and injury-free New Year!

Case Study: Wicca – a Cane Corso from Canada with a CCL Tear in her Left Hind Leg

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Wicca, a 109-pound Cane Corso from Canada with a Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tear on her left hind leg.

Case of Interest:  Wicca is a large breed dog from Canada. At My Pet’s Brace, we ship leg braces all over the world once we receive a cast of the dog’s leg from you, the local vet or rehab professional.  Wicca used her custom knee brace in conjunction with rehab therapies.  This case shows how rehab can aid and improve a dog’s outcome with the assistance from a brace.

Diagnostic History: Wicca injured her left CCL in March 2018. Her local vet made an accurate cast of her leg and mailed it to our fabrication center in Morgantown, PA in late September 2018.

Due to the length of Wicca’s leg and her weight, it was determined that her stifle brace required heavy-duty joints. For larger dogs, we use aluminum dual-axis joints with long aluminum arms to provide the necessary support.

The stifle brace is designed specifically for CCL injuries. An anterior strap is fitted to resist tibial thrust during extension. This resistance to the cranial movement of the tibia reduces the pressure that is put on the injured CCL and the scarification that is occurring. The brace is designed with hard physical stops which do not allow hyperextension of the stifle, further reducing the stress and strain on the ligament and the scar tissue forming in the stifle.

The completed brace was mailed to Wicca’s veterinarian one week later for fitting.  She was instructed to wear the brace for 6-9 months. We mailed Wicca a sheepskin pad to add to the bottom-most strap of the brace to solve a red spot on her hock.

Follow-Ups: Wicca partook in physical therapy sessions with a professional as well as at home during the use of her brace.  Sessions included hydrotherapy, cold laser treatments, cryotherapy, acupuncture and special exercises. Wicca wore her stifle brace for six months.  Her mom said, “Wicca is doing fabulous!! No more limping, not a lot of stiffness. She has gained a lot of muscle back in her leg, we try to hike six to eight km a day now…lots of hills and uneven terrain.”

How To Clean And Maintain Your Pet’s Brace

By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative

While dog leg braces are very sturdy and durable, they still require some basic maintenance to keep them in good working order. Just like you would not want to wear a messy, dirty brace, neither does your dog. Following a few simple suggestions will keep the brace clean, looking good and functioning at its best.

Cleaning Knee Brace

It is a good idea to check the brace at least weekly. Check the straps and pads for wear and tear. On stifle braces, check the straps of the suspension sleeve to make sure they are not showing signs of wear, especially at the ends of the straps where you grab them to remove the suspension sleeve. Normal wear will cause traps to fray, but they are still functional – simply trim the frayed threads with scissors.

If you notice straps or pads beginning to tear, please contact us so that new ones can be sent out to you. Under the warranty, straps and pads are covered for the first ninety days that you have the brace. After the ninety-day period, there is a minimal charge to replace these items.

Be sure to check for chew marks on the straps, too. If you see chew marks, try spraying the brace with a chew repellent made for pets. You don’t want your dog to get into the habit of gnawing on the straps.

The hook on the Velcro straps easily attract hair and dirt.  You can use a wire brush to brush in one direction to remove any debris and keep the Velcro sticky.

Dogs naturally seem to gravitate to smelly, messy situations. Obviously, if your dog has gotten into a messy situation – playing in mud or getting into something we just don’t want to mention – clean the brace as soon as you make this discovery. The brace is easily cleaned with antibacterial soap and a washcloth. If the brace is super dirty, it can be cleaned with a non-toxic cleaner and rinsed with water. Dry the straps with a dry cloth. Remember, the braces are completely waterproof so that makes cleaning easy.

Hock and carpal braces require a little extra attention. Because these braces extend under the dog’s paw and are always hitting the ground, they naturally get dirtier than other braces.

Each day when you remove the brace, look to be sure nothing is caught on the foot pad of the brace. It is easy for sticks or tiny stones to get caught between the paw and the foot pad. (Think flip-flops in the summertime and getting gravel between your foot and the flip-flop.  You know how uncomfortable that can be!) During the winter snows, it is especially important to remove the brace when your dog comes inside.  Check for any snow that may have gotten trapped between the paw and foot pad.

Just as the soles of your shoes need to be replaced periodically, so do the soles of hock and carpal braces. How quickly a dog wears down the sole depends on a lot of factors and there is no way we can predict how soon the sole will need to be replaced. Walking on grass as opposed to asphalt or rocks will extend the life of the sole. 

Check the sole regularly to see how it is wearing. It is important to not let the sole wear down so far that the plastic is exposed. You can always return the brace to us to have it resoled or, if you have a good shoemaker in your area, feel free to contact them about resoling the brace.

A clean, well-maintained brace is a pleasure for your dog to wear and for you to handle. Spending a few extra minutes weekly to ensure the brace is in good working order is time well spent for you, your dog, and the life of the brace. Remember, if you have any problems, we are just a phone call or email away and are here to help both you and your dog.