Phone: (610) 286-0018    Fax: (610) 286-0021

Meet The Front Office Staff

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

Since we introduced you to our fabrication technicians, we thought you might like to meet the office staff, the friendly voices that greet you when you call into My Pet’s Brace.

Anna Spangler – Office Manager/Marketing Director
Anna graduated from Villanova University with a BS in Marketing. For the past five years, she has handled our company’s marketing and was recently promoted to office manager.

Anna grew up on a Holstein dairy farm in central Pennsylvania where she raised and showed cows, goats, and rabbits for 4-H competitions. Today, she lives on a dairy farm in nearby Kutztown with her husband, Ben, dog Peaches, and cranky kitty, Tyson. Anna enjoys traveling and has visited such far-off places as Africa, Iceland, and the Galapagos Islands. She also enjoys reading, sewing, and baking.

Jess Vicknair – Customer Service Representative
Jess grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Millersville University with a BS in Anthropology. Prior to joining My Pet’s Brace, Jess was supervisor of a doggie day care service at a local boarding kennel where she performed temperament testing on incoming dogs.

Jess currently lives in Richland with her husband, Chuck, and two rescued pit bulls, Gavin and Stanley. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, cross-stitching, quilting, biking, and customizing her Jeep Wrangler JK.

Judy Fitzcharles – Bookkeeper
Judy grew up in nearby North Coventry township and graduated from the Lansdale School of Business. She came to us four years ago and her 25 years of bookkeeping and office experience has served her well.

Judy still lives nearby in North Coventry township, and her hobbies include going to craft shows, reading, watching movies, and spending time with her nieces and nephews. Come fall you can find her glued to her television as she is a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan – she bleeds black and gold!

Terry Lackmeyer – Customer Service Representative
Terry grew up in nearby Pottstown and graduated from Millersville University with a BS in Elementary Education. Before joining the My Pet’s Brace family, Terry spent 14 years as a dog groomer with the last 11 of those years owning and operating her own dog grooming salon. She was also active in her local dog training club and trained her dogs in obedience and agility.

Currently, Terry lives in Reading with her husband, Steve, and a rescued, anxiety ridden Dogue de Bordeaux aptly named Nuttie Nutmeg. When not calming her anxious dog, Terry enjoys yoga, Pilates, bike riding, swimming, kayaking, reading, gardening, and cooking.

Case Study: Leo – Australian Cattle Dog With A Carpal Contracture

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The patient: Leo, a three-year-old, 41-pound Australian Cattle Dog with a carpal contracture

Case of Interest: Leo’s carpus needed long-term support.  Six years and three braces later, Leo continues to wear his brace every day and is an active, happy dog.

Diagnostic History: Leo was adopted from the Australian Cattle Dog Rescue Association when he was one and a half years old.  Because Leo could not bear weight on his right front paw, his family had him evaluated by a neurologist, an orthopedic surgeon and a rehabilitation team.  Leo was diagnosed with radial nerve damage in his right shoulder.

The injury, most likely from blunt force trauma, resulted in a carpal contracture.  After undergoing physical therapy, Leo’s family decided to pursue a custom brace.

The patient presented to My Pet’s Brace in November of 2014 with a carpal contracture, walking on the dorsal aspect of his carpal.

After an evaluation at our clinic, it was concluded that Leo would benefit from a carpal brace to prevent further contractures and to protect the paw from knuckling and abrasions that could become infected.  Initially, a jointed carpal brace was fabricated using medical-grade plastic and an adjustable metal joint. 

Follow-Ups: Leo was reexamined at six months and seven months after delivery of the carpal brace.  By his first recheck, Leo was wearing the brace full-time and was bearing increased weight on the braced leg. 

Due to his athleticism and responsiveness to commands, Leo began taking agility classes while wearing his brace.  Leo loved the challenge of the obstacles and climbing elements.  

A new non-jointed carpal brace was fabricated eight months post-delivery of the original brace.  Physical therapy did not improve the contracture and Leo was not extending at the carpal, making the joint unnecessary.  Leo wore the brace so much that the family ordered a spare non-jointed carpal brace one year post-delivery of the second brace.

Leo continues to wear his brace every day for support and protection.  His family said, “The brace has made his life so very much easier. You can tell when he needs it put on, he looks at you and offers up his leg. Without the brace he tires out easier and is a bit more sedentary, but with the brace he just soars. It’s been life altering for all of us.”

When Is A Dog Brace Not A Good Solution?

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

Whenever someone contacts us about getting a brace for their pet, the first question we ask is, “What is your pet’s injury?” That is an especially important question because we need to make sure that we are providing the correct brace for the injury. It is also an important question because, unfortunately, a brace is not appropriate for all conditions. So, let’s take a look at when a brace is not an appropriate solution.

Dog Leg Braces

Hip Issues: Frequently, people contact us because the dog has hip dysplasia. This is a very difficult problem to solve since the range of motion at the hip joint is significant. Unfortunately, we do not have any braces for hip issues. Owners may want to investigate physical therapy for their dog as this may help. If the condition is severe and the dog is having serious difficulty walking, a mobility cart (wheelchair) or surgery may be a more viable solution enabling the dog to still get exercise and go for walks.

Shoulder Problems: Occasionally, we are contacted about dogs that have shoulder issues. We are not able to make braces for shoulders as we cannot isolate the area to create a workable brace. Again, depending on the problem, physical therapy may prove helpful.

Luxating Patellas: Although a luxating patella or “popping kneecap” is a condition of the knee. To prevent the kneecap from popping out, a brace needs to apply pressure to keep it in its proper position. We generally recommend surgery for this condition. If a dog is too elderly or medically compromised for surgery and the luxating patella is severe, again a mobility cart (wheelchair) may be a good solution.

Obesity: Dogs that are extremely overweight are not good candidates for stifle (knee) braces because the dog’s belly can literally prevent the brace from being positioned correctly on the dog’s leg. Also, even if we can get the brace on the leg, it can be pushed off the leg by the belly when the dog sits down. If the dog is otherwise a good candidate for a brace, the owner can contact us again after some weight loss has occurred.

Age-Related Muscle Atrophy: As dogs age they often experience muscle atrophy, especially in the rear legs. This presents with dogs having difficulty getting up after lying down or splaying their legs as they walk, particularly on smooth surfaces such as wood or tile floors. Braces would not be the correct solution in these cases because to use braces effectively, dogs need to have strength in their legs. If a dog cannot get up from lying down, braces would not make that any easier. In fact, braces may make the process harder. For these situations, adding throw rugs or inexpensive yoga mats around the house to help eliminate those smooth surfaces often makes getting up and down and walking easier. The dog also may benefit from wearing a Help ‘Em Up Harness or similar harness. The harness would enable the owner to help the dog get up from a lying down position or to assist the dog when walking on slippery floors, going up and down stairs, or getting into and out of the car.

Although some owners are not happy when we explain that the brace is not the best solution, we believe that being honest is the best policy even if that means saying no. While our goal is to provide the best possible solution to the pet’s orthopedic problem, sometimes that solution does not include a brace. In those cases, we do our best to provide an alternate, helpful solution so that your pet can continue to live a happy life.

3 Month Check-In For Knee Braces

What You Should Be Seeing And Tips Going Forward

By: Clayton Blunk, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

Selma With Knee Brace

If you are reading this post, you likely have had your dog’s knee brace for their ACL/CCL injury for about three months. I want to take this opportunity to lay out what I would expect to see at this stage for the average dog. As one of the senior clinicians at My Pet’s Brace, I have seen every possible response to the brace.

Remember, this is a serious injury and most dogs need to wear their brace for nine months.

Initial Use
First, let us review how I hope you have been using the brace. Most of you are probably “morning to night” users and wearing the brace for 8-14 hours a day.  Walks should have been kept to two to three per day, generally around 10 or 15 minutes at a time, as tolerated. The brace should never be worn at night or while your dog is crated.

At minimum, you should be using the brace for potty breaks, walks and while he/she is more active. If you are struggling to keep your dog’s brace on during this time, please reach out so we can help! We want you to prevent running, ball playing and zoomies as much as possible for the first three months.

Weight-Bearing On Injured Leg
At the three-month point, you should see a clear improvement in your dog’s ability to put weight on the injured leg. Your dog should be limping much less while wearing the brace, even after your walks.

It is still normal for your dog to unload the limb when they stop, or there may still be the occasional “funny walk” during faster or longer walks.

Some dogs look nearly perfect at this point and others may be only showing small improvement. By this milestone, you should see less limping and be confident the brace is helping your dog.

Time To Check-In
The three-month mark is a good time to check in with us and/or your local vet.

Your veterinarian will be able to provide essential insight as to how your dog is progressing with their ACL/CCL injury with the help of their brace.

On our end, please email, Facebook Message, or LiveChat us videos and photos of the brace on your dog for us to review. We will check to make sure everything is fitting perfectly and they are improving as expected.

The straps on the brace are most likely still in good shape, but keep an eye on them.  If the elastic becomes too stretched or the Velcro is no longer sticky, it may be time for replacements.  We keep all your strap measurements on file so they can quickly be mailed to you.  You can change most straps at home with a screwdriver.  There is a charge per strap after the 90-day warranty period.

Activity Level 3+ Months
If you’ve seen improvement in your dog’s weight-bearing, you can slowly start increasing their activity level. Gradually increase the length or difficulty of their walks. You can carefully start unleashed walks and play. You should be able to build up to running and playing while wearing the brace.  This may take another three months.

Tula With Knee Brace

They can begin doing more than four stairs. In the beginning, keep them on a leash so they don’t bolt up or down. As they become more confident, they can do stairs unaided.

If you’ve increased their activity level and your dog starts limping more than normal, you’ve pushed it a little too far.  Scale the activity level back and give them more time.

Keep Wearing The Brace
Is your dog completely weight bearing on their injured leg? Do you no longer see a limp even after more strenuous activity? Some dogs look to be completely healed at this point. Keep wearing the brace! Your dog still needs support. If you take the brace off too early in the process, it is highly likely they will re-injure themselves. The scar tissue is still very fragile and can easily be damaged during strenuous activity or sudden movements.

We’re A Phone Call Away
Hopefully, this post helps to give guidance on where to go from here or encouragement in knowing you are doing everything right. Again, please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.

Case Study: Suki – Horse With Protective Blanket For Burns

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Suki, an 11-year-old old mare with severe burns and skin grafts

Case of Interest: We don’t only make leg braces and prosthetics.  For Suki the horse, we designed and fabricated a blanket to help her skin heal from extensive burns. 

Diagnostic History: In the middle of the night in July 2009, the barn where Suki was sleeping caught fire. Suki escaped the fire, but not before a burning piece of the roof fell onto her back. Suki had second- and third-degree burns covering 70% of her body and was rushed to the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

The burn wounds slowly began to slough off revealing pink, new skin beneath. However, a patch of particularly burned skin on her back was having difficulty healing. As the wound would begin to heal, Suki would roll onto her back to relieve the itching. This would open the wound again and healing would be delayed.

To help promote healing, a skin graft was eventually decided upon. The skin graft used small skin plugs that were taken from the healthy left side of Suki’s neck. Over two dozen small plugs were then implanted into the wound on her back.

Over the next weeks and months, the area would start to heal and she would again scratch her back by rolling. Each time she rolled she would open the graft and the healing would be further delayed. Eventually, veterinarian Dr. Lori Ferdock recommended contacting our office for suggestions.

In June 2011, a practitioner from My Pet’s Brace met with Suki, Suki’s owner, and Suki’s veterinarian several times for evaluation and fitting appointments. The area on her back with the skin graft was about 12 inches by 18 inches. A breathable light-weight material was fashioned into a blanket with a molded insert that would bridge the burnt area and protect the skin, even if Suki rolled on the ground. 

First, a material that has a hexagonal honeycomb-like shape was molded and conformed to the wound area. The material would also allow the area to breathe and encourage air movement around the skin graft. A pocket in the lightweight fabric allowed the insert to be removed for cleaning. Straps were added to keep the blanket in place while Suki moved.

Follow-Ups: Suki was seen multiple times since the protective blanket was created. Small modifications were made to ensure it did not shift. She has since healed perfectly and is back to being ridden and living a very full life. She has been an inspiration to many burn victims, both human and animal, and has touched the lives of so many people in many walks of life.

To learn more about her amazing story and recovery visit:

Saluting Our Unsung Hero, Mr. Freeze

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

Five years ago, Jim Freeze joined the ranks of the My Pet’s Brace family. He had retired years earlier from his career as an electrical engineer and was working part-time in a nearby home improvement store. Our owner knew him through the local Rotary Club and felt his engineering background would prove beneficial in helping us through some especially busy times. Little did he know…

Mr. Freeze at My Pet's Brace

In no time at all, Mr. Freeze learned the ropes of pouring casts – the first step in turning the cast into a dog brace. He quickly moved on to pulling plastic and machining braces. His methodical and meticulous nature along with his excellent work ethic made us realize Mr. Freeze wasn’t just someone to help us out during busy times. We needed him full-time!

As with any business, there are challenges to meet and problems to solve. Can we do this better? How can we make that more efficient? Mr. Freeze with his engineering background rose to the challenge. He seemed able to solve any mechanical issue that came along, suggested ways to improve things, and always did it with a willing nature and a smile on his face.

Then came the real challenge – when we outgrew our original building and moved to a facility three times bigger. We needed to have larger and more efficient workstations, improved capabilities for working on multiple braces simultaneously, better storage, etc., and we wanted all of this to be neat, orderly, efficient, and of course, we wanted it yesterday. Once again, Mr. Freeze came to the rescue. “Sure, I can do that”. Or, “Yes, I can figure something out,” seemed to be his mantra. There wasn’t a problem he couldn’t solve.

Over the years, Mr. Freeze stopped working on braces and became our go-to maintenance man (although he was more than willing to jump in and help with brace production when the need arose). No matter what we needed, we could count on Mr. Freeze to come to our rescue. From working on the furnace, to painting, to unjamming the shredder, to designing and fabricating vacuum forming stations, to creating revolving storage spaces, to making or creating anything and everything we needed. Our mantra became, “Talk to Mr. Freeze; he can take care of that!”

Needless to say, when our beloved Mr. Freeze announced he was retiring for the second time, we were crushed. What will we do without our problem-solving-fix-anything-can-do-attitude maintenance person? We will miss you greatly, Mr. Freeze, that’s what we will do.

Mr. Freeze, with a smile on our faces and tears in our eyes, we wish you the absolute best. At 83 years young, you have earned the right to retire… again. Your age may say retirement time, but your youthful thinking and jovial attitude proves you are decades younger. Enjoy whatever it is you choose to do. Travel with your wife (once COVID ends), go kayaking, have fun. Above all, enjoy life. We may end up with another maintenance person, but we will never find anyone to replace you. You are truly one in a million!

Mr. Freeze at My Pet's Brace

Case Study: Lt Danny – Pitbull with Bilateral Prosthetic Devices

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Lt Danny, a 2-year-old, 40-pound Pitbull terrier with congenital amputations of both rear paws

Case of Interest: As a young active dog without rear paws, Lt Danny’s family was concerned about his long-term quality of life.  They pursued bilateral prosthetic devices to protect his residual limbs, level his spine for proper alignment and reduce overcompensation on his front legs.

Diagnostic History: Lt Danny was born in Georgia without his rear paws distally from the calcanei. He was rescued by a veterinarian who decided that prostheses were needed to ensure that Lt Danny would not develop arthritis or develop any back issues due to the height discrepancy between his fore and rear legs. Prosthetics were also needed to protect the skin covering the residual lumbs from injury. Prior to Lt Danny coming to our facility multiple sets of devices were attempted by another company but were unsuccessful.

Lt Danny came to our facility on New Year’s Eve 2019 for an evaluation for bilateral prostheses. His weight-bearing, range of motion, activity level, skin sensitivity, and height discrepancies were examined. It was determined that he would be a good candidate for bilateral prosthetics. Casts were formed around the remaining portion of the limbs and focused specifically on the distal end to ensure as comfortable and intimate fit of the devices as possible. The height discrepancy between the shoulder and hip was determined to ensure that the prosthetics were the proper height for a better conformation.

The prosthetics were created with a hard-plastic outer shell for stability and a softer padded inner shell for protection. The inner shell is slipped onto the residual limb first, then it is inserted into the outer shell. This design allows for the inner shell to come apart from the outer shell in extreme cases such as the prosthetic becoming lodged in a hole while outside. The fit between the inner and outer shells is tight enough so that during normal activity such as walks, running, and jumping the prosthetic will stay firmly in place but only during extreme cases will the shells separate.

Follow-Ups: Lt Danny was seen approximately one week after delivery to determine the fit of the prosthetics after a few days of break-in and consistent wearing. Appropriate adjustments were made to the devices to ensure comfort and safety. Lt Danny continues to use the prosthetics for exercise and uses them to run and play with his friends at doggy daycare.

Meet The Fabrication Team

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

Last month we blogged about how braces are made. This month we thought you would like to meet the folks that make those braces. Their expertise and attention to detail ensures every device is made to the highest standards.

Jeremy Amos – Production Manager
Jeremy has lived in the area his entire life, having grown up in nearby Gibraltor, Pennsylvania. He received his associate degree in business administration from Penn State Berks campus and has been creating braces with us for 3 ½ years.

When not making braces, Jeremy enjoys guitar playing and has played in several local bands. He also enjoys cooking, especially barbequing, camping, outdoor adventures, attending concerts, and watching movies.

He currently resides with three roommates and a sweet pit bull mix named Sam.

Mike Stangl – Technician
Mike grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from West Chester University, then went on to receive his Master of Theology from Dallas Seminary in Dallas, Texas. He returned to the area in 1993 and now resides in Gap, Pennsylvania.

After pursuing the ministry for twenty-three years, Mike was ready for a change. His additional mechanical expertise has served him well and he has been with us for 4 ½ years.

In his spare time, Mike enjoys woodworking, furniture repair and refinishing, history, genealogy, and archeology. Mike resides with his wife and two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Mindy and Bella. He has two grown children, a boy and a girl.

Michael Gallagher – Technician
Michael grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He spent two years studying theatre arts at Arcadia University and is currently studying computer science at Delaware County Community College. Prior to starting with us, Michael worked at Home Depot and spent several years in the food service industry.

Michael currently lives in Pottstown with his girlfriend, Alice, and two ferrets, Nibbler and Niffler. He holds a third-degree black belt in American Kenpo, a form of marital arts, and has spent the last seven years as a volunteer at Preston’s and Steve’s Yearly Camp Out for Hunger, one of the largest food drive events in the nation. In his spare time, Mike enjoys walks, the beach, and hanging out with friends.

Martin Reph – Technician
Martin is the latest addition to the My Pet’s Brace family. He grew up in the nearby East Greenville/ Pennsburg area of Pennsylvania and attended Lehigh University where he studied archeology. Prior to joining us, he spent 5 years working in the prosthetics and orthotic industry.

Martin currently resides in Pottstown with his wife, Emily, and five children. His family includes a pet bullfrog, Pigu, and two bunnies, Sandy and Kiwi. In his spare time, Martin enjoys sculpting.

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.