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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: 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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

Case Study: Kirahime – a Doberman with a CCL Tear in her Left Hind Leg

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Kirahime, a 90-pound, 6-year-old Doberman with a CCL tear in her left hind leg.

Case of Interest: Our stifle braces aid in the healing of Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tears by stabilizing the stifle and controlling the forward thrust of the tibia. This healing process occurs within 9 months with the application of a custom stifle brace. After this time period, the dog may continue to wear the brace for extra support during more strenuous activities or inclement weather.  Kirahime is a strong energetic dog who returned to full activity with the help of her stifle brace.  Over two years after her initial injury and brace fitting, Kirahime occasionally uses the brace during highly active times.

Diagnostic History: In 2016, Kirahime jumped up several stairs and started favoring her left hind leg. She rested for 7 months and returned to normal weight-bearing.  She reinjured her left hind leg in December of 2016 running after a squirrel. She was seen by a veterinarian in March 2017 and was diagnosed with a partial tear of her left CCL and mild Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The owner determined that they were not interested in surgery for a variety of reasons and thus decided to pursue conservative management of a custom stifle brace.

Kirahime presented to our clinic for a left stifle brace to assist in the healing of a partial CCL rupture. An evaluation of Kirahime’s body condition and lifestyle was performed and it was determined that she would benefit from a left stifle brace. An accurate cast was taken of her leg from hip to hock using fiberglass casting tape. A brace was constructed using the cast that was taken. This process involves filling the cast with plaster, modification of the mold, vacuum-forming of the co-polymer plastic onto the mold, machining the brace to the correct shape and the addition of buckles, straps and veterinary urethane and nylon stifle joints.  A week after the evaluation, Kirahime was fitted with her brace and the brace was adjusted for a proper and comfortable fit.

Kirahime was given a restricted exercise program, which included 2 or 3 leashed walks a day at around 10 to 15 minutes each.  No running, dog or ball playing.  Stairs were limited to 1 to 4 steps and if more than 4 were required then some help in the form of a sling under the hips or blocking off the area was suggested.  This limited exercise regimen was only required for the initial 3 to 4 months to allow for the formation of scar tissue. After that time, she was gradually allowed to do more strenuous activities such as stairs and running.

Follow-Ups: Kirahime was seen approximately 1 month, 3 months, 5 months, 8 months, 1 year, and a year and a half post-delivery. At each check-up appointment her walking was assessed and it was noted that she was doing well.  Her weight-bearing and muscle mass on her inured left leg increased to normal. Kirahime’s owner said, “Kirahime and I cannot thank you all enough for giving me back my insane girl! No limping or “toe touching” at all and we’re 5 mile off-lead hiking every day again! Not bad for a 7 year Doberman who had a partial tear.”

Why Do We Need A Diagnosis?

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

“Thank you for calling My Pet’s Brace. How can I help you?”

“My dog is limping on his hind leg and needs a brace,” replies the caller.

“Sure, I can help you with that. What is your dog’s injury? What is the diagnosis from your vet?”

“Oh, I didn’t take him to the vet. He’s just limping so I want a brace. Can you make one for him?”

“Sure, we can make a brace but in order the make the correct type of brace we need to know what your dog’s injury is.  It is important the dog see the vet so that we know what is causing the limp.”

“Oh, he’s had this limp for a while. It gets better then it gets worse. I had another dog that had a cruciate ligament injury, and he’s acting the same way. I see no reason to take him to the vet because I’m pretty sure it’s the same thing.”

Unfortunately, the above conversation happens all too often. While we can guess from the conversation and our experience that this dog probably has a torn cruciate ligament in his knee, we cannot nor should we make that assumption. Although our owner is a board-certified prosthetist orthotist which means he has lots of medical knowledge and experience, and our clinicians have bio-medical engineering backgrounds, they are not veterinarians and legally cannot make a diagnosis.

There could be many problems causing this dog to limp and some may not even originate in the knee. For example, the dog may have a problem in his hock for which we could make a brace, but it is an entirely different type of brace than one we would make for a problem in the knee. Maybe the dog has a problem in his hip, such as hip dysplasia, for which we have no type of brace. The dog may have some type of neurological problem for which braces usually do not help. As you can see, getting the correct diagnosis is very important.

Veterinarians go to school for many years in order to learn how to evaluate and differentiate among the countless problems that they see in pets daily. Whether we are talking about your pet’s front or back legs, knees, hocks, carpals, or elbows, getting the correct diagnosis is imperative and required for us to make the most appropriate brace for your pet. Sometimes, in conjunction with the diagnosis we also need x-rays and, if that is necessary, we would let you know. For example, if we are seeing a dog for a prosthetic device or fracture, x-rays may be helpful.

We are here to provide your pet with the best solution for their orthopedic problem and to do that we need to have the proper diagnosis, in writing, from your vet.

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, What Color Brace Shall I Do?

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

While getting a leg brace for your dog is very serious, believe it or not, it does have a lighter side – choosing a brace color. For some people it is very easy, for others it requires much thought and sometimes, a family pow-pow. The good part is, we have 35 different colors and patterns from which to choose.

Some people prefer that no one notices the brace and want it to blend as nearly as possible with the dog’s coat. For those people, a solid color closely matching the dog’s coat color works well. You even can take it a step further and choose one of our patterns that looks like dog hair (but without the shedding).

Other folks feel that since the dog must wear a brace, making it fun is the way to go. For those people we have every solid color to fit the ROY G BIV mnemonic code plus white, black, brown, silver and tan.  Our most popular brace color is hot pink.

For those adventurous folks, we have various patterns that can be fused to the brace to really spice up the appearance. The hunter in the family may want the camouflage pattern; the kids, the shark or graffiti design. The star gazer may look to the cosmos or starry nights pattern; the sophisticate may lean toward the carbon fiber design; while the fashion conscience may opt for the cheetah or zebra print. Finally, for those that like abstracts the yellow/orange or blue swirl may be the way to go.

Regardless of the color or pattern chosen, rest assured that the brace will be durable and easy to maintain. Water will never harm the color or patterns and all braces are completely waterproof and easy to clean with anti-bacterial soap and water. Dog braces can even be worn in the pool or during hydrotherapy with no ill effects.

As we like to remind owners, braces work the same no matter what color or pattern is chosen. The important point is that while we enjoy providing fun color choices, our first and foremost goal is to make the most comfortable, effective, and functional brace to help your dog with their orthopedic condition and to help them to live happier lives.

Case Study: Rockne – a Golden Retriever with a CCL Tear in her Left Hind Leg

By: Katie Mirobelli, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner from Pittsburgh location

The Patient: Rockne, a 67 pound 11.5-year-old Golden Retriever with a CCL tear in her left hind leg

Case of Interest: Rockne was the inaugural patient for the My Pet’s Brace – Pittsburgh location. Rockne is an 11.5-year-old Golden Retriever who presented with a full tear of her left CCL.

Diagnostic History: Rockne presented to her veterinarian in October of 2018 for lameness on her left hind leg after chasing a squirrel in her backyard. The veterinarian diagnosed Rockne with a cruciate ligament tear. Surgery was discussed, but due to her age and concerns about anesthetic risk, Rockne’s owners opted to look into conservative treatment options for Rockne’s injury and made an appointment at My Pet’s Brace Pittsburgh.

Upon evaluation for a brace, Rockne was bright and responsive, with a pronounced limp of the left hind leg. An evaluation of Rockne’s physical condition and lifestyle was performed, and it was decided that she would benefit from a stifle brace. An accurate cast was taken of her leg from hip to hock. A brace was constructed using this cast. The brace was made with medical-grade plastic and veterinary urethane knee joints. Two weeks after the evaluation, Rockne was fitted with his brace and adjustments were made as needed.

Rockne was placed on a restricted exercise regimen, which included no running, dog or ball playing. Stairs were limited to 1 to 4 and if more than 4 were required than some help in the form of a sling under the hips was suggested. Leashed walks or walks in a restricted area were encouraged but limited to 2 or 3 walks a day at around 10 to 20 minutes each walk. These walks could be increased as her healing progressed. This limited exercise regimen was only required for the initial 3 to 4 months to allow time for healing. Afterwards she was gradually allowed to do more strenuous activities such as stairs and running.

Follow Up: Rockne was seen 3 weeks and again at 5 months after receiving her brace. Rockne adjusted quickly to using the brace, and she and her owners were happy to have her mobile again. Rockne’s primary form of exercise were calm walks around her neighborhood. When walks weren’t an option due to weather or schedule, Rockne’s owners would play a calm game of “fetch” by rolling a frisbee slowly across the room for Rockne to walk after and retrieve. At her 5 month appointment, Rockne’s gait was markedly improved and she was able to be more active and to begin to use stairs if desired (squirrel chasing was still discouraged however). As of July 2019, Rockne is 12.5 years old and walking well. Though she is starting to slow down a bit with age, she still enjoys the occasional game of fetch, her walks and saying hello to her many friends. She is able to start weaning off the brace, though she generally still wears it for most of the day.