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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.

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.

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.

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: https://mypetsbrace.com/training-videos.

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.

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.

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!

What Happens During An Evaluation Appointment At My Pet’s Brace?

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

Frequently, owners express concern about the evaluation appointment for their dog’s leg brace. Many fear that we aLeg Casting During Evaluation Appointmentre going to manipulate the dog’s leg and cause pain, or that they will not be able to remain with their pet. Neither of those thoughts are true. So, let me explain what happens during the evaluation appointment.

The first thing needed for the appointment is a written diagnosis from your vet or rehab professional telling us about your dog’s injury. Since we are not veterinarians, we need to know the exact diagnosis so that we can be sure we are making the correct leg brace for your dog’s injury.

Next, you and your dog will be taken into an exam room where you will meet with the clinician. After taking time to review the information from your vet and meeting you and your dog, the clinician will ask several questions regarding your dog’s living arrangements, time spent inside vs outside, activity level, and any other pets in the household. The clinician will discuss your dog’s injury and observe your dog walking up and down the hallway several times. The clinician may feel your dog’s leg to check for any swelling or discomfort. We may bend your dog’s leg, in a normal flexing motion, to listen for any type of clicking or popping sounds. This will not hurt the dog. If the dog shows any type of discomfort with this flexion, the clinician will stop.

Once the clinician has gathered all the information, we will explain what is going on in your dog’s leg and how and why the brace will help. You will have ample opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Sometimes, the clinician has the unfortunate task of telling the client that the brace is not the correct solution for the dog’s injury. Rest assured that if we do not feel a brace is appropriate for your pet, we will be honest and let you know that. If that occurs, there is no charge for the evaluation appointment.

After explaining your dog’s injury and how and why the brace will help and making sure you want to move forward with the brace, the clinician will make a cast of your dog’s leg. You will be with your dog the entire time, helping to keep them calm. Someone will support your dog under their belly, so they are comfortable while the clinician does the casting. The casting process takes less than 5 minutes and is completely painless and non-invasive for the dog. The toughest thing your dog will need to do is stand there, with support of course. After casting, the clinician will take measurements of your dog’s leg. If your dog is getting a hock or carpal brace, the clinician will make a tracing of your dog’s paw.

Once the cast is complete and the owner has no further questions, payment will be handled at the front desk. All braces must be paid in full before the brace goes into production.  We accept all credit cards, cash, check and Care Credit.

Our goal during the evaluation, or any of our appointments, is to provide a warm, friendly atmosphere for both the dog and owner. We want to answer all your questions and alleviate any concerns you may have regarding the brace and your dog.