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

How to Groom a Dog with a Brace

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

People often ask if their dog can be groomed with a brace. Well, if your hand was in a cast would you still get a manicure? The answer may depend on your manicurist. If he or she is careful and gentle, you probably would. The same holds true with your groomer. If he or she is gentle and careful, your dog should be able to be safely groomed, provided they follow a few simple precautions and you have realistic expectations.

The brace is completely waterproof so technically it could be worn during the grooming process.  Your groomer will not be able to do the best job with it on so the brace should be removed for bathing and haircutting. The exception would be if your dog has such a severe injury and your vet does not want the brace removed. Check with your veterinarian to discuss if grooming is safe and follow their suggestions.

While your dog is at the groomer they will be in a controlled restricted environment. They will not be playing or running with other dogs. They will be led on a leash, tethered during the bathing and haircutting process and crated during the drying process. Being without the brace during this time should be safe with those restrictions.

Let’s start with safe bathing. Make sure the groomer puts a rubber bathmat in the tub. Your dog needs sure-footing while being bathed so that they does not slip and slide during the process. Even if the tub has a non-skid surface, a rubber bathmat is strongly recommended. (If your groomer does not have one, pick one up at your local discount store and provide it for use while your dog is being groomed.) When the dog is placed in the crate to dry ask that a rubber bathmat be placed in the crate under the towel. Then as the dog rubs the towel around in the crate – which dogs tend to do – there will still be firm footing on which to stand and your dog won’t slide on the crate bottom. Remember we don’t want the dog wearing the brace while crated.

Now let’s discuss the hair cutting process. In order to do a good job grooming your dog, your groomer needs to pick up each leg to work on it. Gently picking up the injured leg is safe.  Picking up the opposing leg forces your dog to shift their weight on the injured leg which may be harmful to your dog. Ask if your groomer has someone or some way to help support the dog when the opposing leg is lifted. This will also be needed when the groomer cuts your dog’s nails. Getting a nice haircut takes times and your dog will be standing through most of the process. Ask if your dog will be able to take a break or sit if they show signs of fatigue.

Make sure that your groomer understands your dog’s injury and is comfortable grooming your dog with the injury. No groomer wants a dog hurt while under their care so respect their concerns if your groomer does not wish to groom your dog while injured. Finally, don’t worry about getting that perfect haircut on your dog’s leg right now. Be satisfied with your groomer doing the best job possible while keeping your dog safe and happy.


How do dogs adjust to wearing a canine knee brace for ACL injury?

canine knee braceAt My Pet’s Brace, we often are asked “How do dogs react or adjust to wearing an ACL knee brace?” After fitting over 600 ACL braces for dogs with knee injuries, we feel confident that we know the answer:  they do extremely well.

How will my pet react to a dog knee brace?  It’s quite amazing when dogs take their first steps in an ACL brace (also known as a Stifle brace). They generally look back at the brace and seem to wonder “What the heck did you just put on me”? Then after some slow walks they feel the stability it provides and begin to ignore the brace altogether.  Often, after just a few days (sometimes a little longer) we’ll see that as the dog is walking the rear paw pad becomes flatter on the ground and not raised up as before. This shows that they are putting more and more weight on the injured knee.

Will my dog wear the leg brace all the time?  Generally ACL braces for dogs are worn during their waking hours; not at night when sleeping.  We always provide a break-in period that allows the family to get used to applying the brace on a regular basis and helps the dog adjust to the straps and some knee motion limitations. The break-in period for a canine ACL brace typically starts by having the pet wear the brace for three hours on the first day and then increases wearing time by one hour a day until full-time use is achieved. Less active, senior dogs only need to wear the brace while outside, going for walks, playing with other dogs and during other vigorous activity. We recommend that dogs with new knee braces (aka stifle braces) maintain a reduced activity level for three weeks as they work their way up to normal activity levels.

Will my dog leave the ACL brace alone?  Occasionally a dog will try to remove a strap or pad but rarely do we see bite marks on the braces. We’ve found that if a dog wants to remove the brace it is because something is bothering him or her:  a strap fastened too tightly, an abrasion from a sleeve or strap, or hair caught in the Velcro. If this occurs the first thing to do is remove the brace and look closely at the dog’s skin and under the hair to determine the cause of the discomfort. Most minor scrapes can be addressed with powder, or if the condition persists contact My Pet’s Brace at (610) 286-0018 to discuss an adjustment.

dog with ACL brace
Getting rehabilitation and/or exercise is one of the most important things you can do to help your dog recover from an ACL injury. Our next blog will address how to get stronger legs and build up the muscle lost due to an ACL injury.

Follow these links for more information:

Ask us a question about your dog’s specific situation.

Order a brace for your dog.

Jim Alaimo CPO Owner

Strider Remembered

We mourn the loss of a good friend and companion and one of the three founders of our company. Strider the loveable Golden Retriever and our Chairman of the Board succumbed recently to extensive cancer and a related heart condition. Jim and his wife Nancy had to make the very tough decision to let him go. Strider was 10 years old and had been part of Jim’s and Nancy’s family his entire life.

Strider was part of what eventually became My Pet’s Brace from the early days when he kept us company in Jim’s kitchen while we did our research, debated potential business names endlessly and created our plans. Strider was content to supervise and let us do the pencil-pushing.

When we decided to move forward with My Pet’s Brace he converted from dog to Guinea Pig and was the model for all of our prototype braces and test subject for our processes and later was the main subject of our training videos. (We often told people he was probably the most casted dog in the world.) All of this he undertook with good humor and natural grace but always seemed a little relieved to get back to supervising from over there on the rug.

Strider was the happiest, most outgoing dog that I’ve ever spent time with. He loved people and other dogs. When clients came through the front door here at the clinic he would come bounding up the hall to meet the new people and try to make friends with their dogs. Many times I’ve watched him “work the room” as he circulated from one human to another, getting petted and scratched as much as possible. One favorite delivery man always had a treat for him.

Strider would follow Jim around the clinic and plop down in a favorite spot so he could supervise in comfort. The ringing of the telephone seemed to really  hurt his ears and if it rang more than three times he set up a loud wailing howl the would make us all clinch our teeth. Many times when the phone rang one of us would run down the hall, hurdle Strider, usually parked in a doorway, to try to answer the phone before the third ring. If we failed we often had to explain to the person on the line what was going on and assure them that the dog they heard howling was not being abused.

He was also a very intelligent dog. Some of our patients were more relaxed if there was not another dog around so we would keep Strider in another part of the building during these appointments. This is what Strider disliked the most: not being part of the action! So as the appointment time neared, Jim would try to lure or entice him into the back of the clinic using treats, tricks and persuasive talk. All of these worked only one time; the next time Strider was wise to game and would not cross the threshold to the back rooms. Did I mention his stubborn streak?

When we wrote the  About Our Experts section of the My Pet’s Brace website we ended Strider’s paragraph with this sentence, “He is a constant inspiration and always reminds us of what we are really all about.” At the time some of our advisors thought this was too mushy and sentimental and suggested we take it out. Ultimately, I decided to leave it in because, mushy or not, it was true. And, for me it will remain so.

I will miss his supervision. Mark Hardin

April 12, 2012

How today’s materials have made orthotics & prosthetics an emerging field in the veterinary industry

It wasn’t too long ago that orthoses (bracing) and prostheses were made from steel, aluminum, wood, and leather. These materials were quite heavy and made mobility awkward even for human patients. As a result of technological advances gained from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, new materials were developed to protect soldiers and improve treatment options for injuries.

A resin impregnated fabric material called Kevlar™ was used in helmets and bullet proof vests to protect the torso and head of the soldiers. Lightweight material called carbon graphite was used in rifles and packs in order to lighten the load for troops on the ground. Special foams and silicones were developed with anti-bacterial properties to fight infections from wounds and spread weight-bearing forces over a larger area. Soldiers that sustained injuries to the feet, and lower limb were many times fit with braces made from lightweight thermoplastics such as polypropylene.

Today we use these same materials in the veterinary orthotic and prosthetic industry. Carpal, hock and stifle leg braces are made from lightweight polypropylene, co-polymer and polyethylene. These plastics clean easily and are long-lasting and durable. For extremely active, agility, or even obese dogs, we often use carbon graphite or pre-impregnated composites which are very light and extremely strong. In special cases when radiation and chemotherapy results in very delicate or sensitive skin we make carpal or hock wraps that use silicone based materials to protect the affected area and provide a cushion from impact.

This is an exciting time for us in the veterinary orthotic and prosthetic community and we are happy to use some of these new materials to help pets live happier lives.

When is a leg brace or prosthesis a good option for a dog or pet?

That question is familiar one that comes up on a regular basis. I suppose it arises because orthotics and prosthetics for pets is a rather new ancillary service not seen in the veterinary industry until just the last decade. The fact is, most American Board for Certification, orthotists and prosthetists have provided braces and artificial limbs for animals during their entire careers of helping humans. These orthotists and prosthetists would interweave their knowledge of human biomechanics, anatomy and craftsmanship to help dogs, cats, llamas, ostriches, cows, dolphins, birds, and a host of other animals to walk, run, swim or fly again. Many times the referral comes at the request of a caring veterinarian who was completely out of medical or surgical options in order to help these animals. The inquiry from the veterinarian always started with, “I don’t know if you can do anything, but can a brace or prosthesis work on this type of animal?” Today, many veterinarians are realizing that a leg brace or prosthesis is a good option that they can use in order to help their patients live better, happier lives.

We wanted to know why veterinarians, rehabilitation professionals, and owners felt prosthetics or bracing the elbow, carpal, stifle, or hock was a good modality of care in helping pets. To find out that answer we reviewed our patient practice records and noticed some very distinct reasons why bracing or prosthetics in animals is becoming common place in allowing pets to lead more active lives. Since My Pet’s Brace is only one of three companies in the U.S. that provide bracing and prosthetics solely for animals, we felt the data we gathered would be useful and worthwhile not only for veterinarians and rehabilitation professionals who have never use orthotics and prosthetics, but for pet owners who are looking for options to help their pets.

The chart below shows three broad categories of why patients were referred to our clinic. The research shows that 54% of our patient base was referred to us because surgery was not an option for the animal; 21% of our patients base was from pets owners who didn’t want their pets to have surgery; and, 25% was from vets or rehabilitation professionals who wanted an orthosis or prosthesis to assist in the rehabilitation of their patients.