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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.

Braces and Water

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

While water and oil may not mix, water and our braces do not have that same problem.

All of our braces are completely waterproof. The shell of the brace is made of co-polypropylene plastic. The inside lining of the brace is made of closed-cell foam which means it does not absorb moisture or bacteria. The buckles, screws and rivets are all stainless steel. All of this means the brace is very easy to keep clean and water will not affect it.

If the brace should get dirty it is very easy to clean with antibacterial soap and a washcloth. If it gets dirty, feel free to use a non-toxic cleaner, such as Simple Green, on it along with water.

If your dog has water therapy, they can wear the brace (with the therapist’s approval, of course). If your dog likes to swim in the family pool, fine. If your dog enjoys the creek while on those trail hikes, great. Just follow a few simple steps when your dog comes out of the water to keep the brace performing at its best.

  1. Remove the brace from the dog’s leg and dry the brace and straps off completely.
  2. Dry your dog’s leg off as well as possible.
  3. Powder the suspension sleeve really well. This will reduce friction which increases with moisture present.
  4. Put the brace back on your dog’s leg.

One final note, if you live near the ocean and your dog enjoys playing in the waves just remember that salt water is very caustic. When your dog comes out of the ocean remember to rinse the brace very well with fresh water then follow the steps noted above.

Following these simple tips will ensure that your dog can participate in the water activities they love and the brace will serve them well for years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Knee Braces From My Pet’s Brace

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

Cranial cruciate ligament injuries (ACL/CCL) are one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs.  For this injury, veterinarian and rehabilitation professionals recommend surgery, physical therapy and/or a knee brace.  As one of only a handful of companies in the world providing custom knee braces for ACL/CCL injuries, we receive inquires every day about our knee brace.  Here we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

How does a knee brace help my dog’s ACL/CCL injury?
Our knee braces are specifically designed for ACL/CCL injuries to prevent the tibia from thrusting forward (drawer movement) and the hyperextension of the joint.  The brace greatly reduces your dog’s pain and allows your pet to put more weight on the leg and limp less while the natural healing process of scar tissue formation occurs.  Once good strong scar tissue has built up, your dog will be back to their normal activity level and they no longer need to wear the brace.  Most dogs only need to wear the brace for nine months, during which time they’ll be able to have an almost normal lifestyle.

Is the brace comfortable for my dog to wear?
Your dog’s brace is custom-made from a cast of their leg and comfortable for them to wear all day.  In fact, many clients tell us their dog can’t wait to get the brace on; they lie down and offer their leg for the brace.  The brace is:

  • Custom- forming to the exact contours of your dog’s leg to create the perfect fit
  • Lightweight- most braces weigh only a few ounces
  • Jointed- your dog can easily bend their leg to sit, lie down, go for walks, play and even swim while wearing the brace
  • Well padded- the entire inside of the brace is lined with foam and extra padding on the straps of the brace

Read our blog “How Do Dogs Adjust To Wearing A Brace?” to learn how dogs quickly acclimate to their new brace.

How do you put the brace on/take the brace off?
The brace is easy to put on and take off your dog’s leg with three to four Velcro straps that go around the back of the leg.  You’ll soon be a seasoned pro and it will take less than 60 seconds to put the brace on in the morning or take it off at night.

Our brace design has no harness system that attaches to another leg and you do not have to thread your dog’s leg from the top to the bottom of the brace, like other companies.

How does the brace stay up on my dog’s leg?
The brace stays securely in place through the use of our innovative suspension sleeve which suspends the brace on your dog’s leg.  The suspension sleeve Velcro’s to the inside of the brace and wraps around above your dog’s hock.  Your dog’s natural anatomy helps suspend (hence the name suspension sleeve) the brace on your dog’s leg with the help of this sleeve.

Other braces use harness systems or they continue tightening the bottom strap of the brace to keep the brace from slipping down.

What is the brace made of?
All of our braces are made with the same high-quality materials that are used for human braces and are waterproof.  The outside of the brace is a hard medical-grade plastic which is required to provide the necessary support for ACL injuries.  The inside is lined with closed-cell antibacterial foam for padding and the screws and rivets are stainless steel.  The entire brace is very easy to clean with mild soapy water.

What happens if my dog chews the brace or I need a replacement strap?
To many peoples’ surprise, it is rare for dogs to chew the brace. If they chew anything it is usually the suspension sleeve or one of the straps. Here’s where good customer service, which we pride ourselves on, comes into play. Before any brace leaves our clinic, we record the measurements of the all the straps and make a copy of the suspension sleeve. That way if a replacement part is needed all you have to do is call us, let us know which item is needed, and we can mail it to you. Straps can easily be changed using a flat-head screwdriver. Replacement parts usually go out the same day requested – like I said, good customer service.

What happens if I have a question about my dog’s brace?
We are just a phone call away! Again, we want your dog to do well with its brace and if your dog isn’t happy, neither are we. If you call with a problem, a clinician is only a phone transfer away and they are always ready and willing to speak to customers. Many customers can’t come to the clinic because they live too far away or possibly in another country, but we still want those dogs happy too. Therefore we will ask for a video or photo to be emailed to us so that we can see exactly what is going on. We often do that for local patients as well as that may save them from having to come in to the clinic.

How long have you been making braces?
My Pet’s Brace was co-founded in 2010 by Jim Alaimo.  Jim Alaimo is a Board Certified Prosthetist Orthotist and practiced human orthotics and prosthetics for over 20 years.  For the past eight years, he has evaluated, cast and fit dogs with our braces at our Main Office in Morgantown, PA.  His daily hands-on interaction with patients of all breeds and orthotic needs allows us to continuously improve the devices and gives us the practical expertise necessary to answer even your most detailed questions.  We have fabricated over 5,800 braces for dog living all over the world.

Why can’t I just buy a soft knee brace or braces made from measurements?
While soft braces have their uses for strains or minor injuries, they simply can’t provide the support or stability needed to support a seriously injured joint, such as a torn cranial cruciate ligament in the knee. Soft braces are usually made of neoprene fabric, the same fabric used in wetsuits. That means it’s pliable and bendable; it can be squished up with your fist. A seriously injured joint requires support from something that will not bend or give – a rigid material.   Braces made from measurements alone are not able to accommodate for breed differences or the exact curves of your dog’s leg. 

The My Pet’s Brace Difference:

  • Efficacy – above all, the brace works
  • Comfortable for your dog to wear
  • Easy application and removal of the brace
  • Easy replacement of parts
  • Readily available clinicians
  • Excellent customer service

The bottom line is that we want to help your dog walk and play comfortably again for you to be satisfied with our product and service. Let’s be honest, when your dog is happy, you’re happy, and when you and your dog are happy we’re thrilled because for us it’s not just a job, it’s a dedication!  If you have any other questions, please give us a call.

Hiking With Your Dog

Most of our clients love to be outdoors with their pets, and that can range from sitting in the backyard while their dog romps, to partnering with their pet on a more adventurous outing like hiking, boating or camping.  We often hear that the brace we made helps their dog be more active–around the farm, on longer walks, hikes, and mad dashes after local wildlife–and they have the peace of mind that the support provided by the brace will help protect and prevent re-injury.  Of course, we work closely with our veterinary and rehabilitation professionals and recommend you check with them before embarking on any out-of-the-ordinary exercise or trips.

We’re big fans of hiking, and it goes without saying that we love dogs.  So we went looking for more information and tips for hiking with your dog.  Here’s a sampling of what we found, with links to our resources and additional information at the end.

Find just the right trail for the activity level of both you and your pet.  Before visiting a new spot or taking an unfamiliar trail, learn as much as possible about the terrain, local weather, water sources and location.  Bookstores and online searches will yield resources for great pet-friendly trails in your area.  We listed a few below.

Be prepared, with supplies and know-how for pet first aid, proper clothing and dog boots for colder, snowy or wet weather, wipes for cleanup, sunscreen, and waste disposal bags (this is only a partial list–follow links below for further information and links to education and supply sources).  Learn symptoms of common conditions like heat exhaustion and hypothermia.

Preventive measures:  these are important all the time, but getting ready for a hike or longer trip is a good time to make sure your pet is generally in good health and is up to date with vaccinations, rabies tag, contact information on collar, etc.

“Trail manners” are important.  For dogs with less trail experience, stick to less-traveled spots at first, to let your pet gradually get used to passers-by and other dogs.  Our resources all agreed that a leash is a necessity, both for your dog’s safety and the safety of others.

Food and water:  smaller meals may be better when getting lots of exercise, but at the same time if the trip will be strenuous you need to make sure your pet is getting enough calories, so check with your vet for advice.  If you’re going somewhere unfamiliar, find out if stream or spring water is safe to drink; otherwise pack water or a filter system.

Share the load:  packing can be a great experience for your dog and will ensure you are able to carry enough supplies for both of you.  Check with your vet first to make sure your dog is in shape to carry a pack, and start light to allow them to get used to the added weight.  There’s loads of tips, information and gear out there if you want to give it a try.

Back home:  a bath is probably in order; check for burrs, rashes or cuts, ticks and other unwanted passengers.  Contact a vet if you see anything of concern.