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

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.

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.

Case Study: Leo – A Springer Spaniel With Double Jointed Hock Brace for Knuckling

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

Patient: Leo, a 45-pound, 8-month-old English Springer Spaniel with nerve damage causing knuckling on the left hind leg.

Diagnostic History: Leo was playing with their neighbor’s dog when he fell and was impaled on a rebar stake that was sticking out of the ground. The rebar entered through his back to the left of his spinal cord, transected through his abdomen, and exited cranially and distally from the hip joint, through the tensor fascia lata.

Once he was freed, he was rushed to the emergency veterinarian. There was no major damage to any internal organs. 

He made a full recovery but continued to knuckle on his left hind leg due to nerve damage.  This began to produce sores and abrasions on the cranial aspect of his paw.  As Leo was not fully weight-bearing on that leg, his muscles were starting to atrophy.

Leo was seen at My Pet’s Brace in October 2019. It was observed that he was knuckling and had noticeable atrophy to his quadriceps and hamstrings on his left hind leg. He had acceptable range of motion in his hip, stifle, and hock.

My Pet’s Brace fabricated a double-jointed hock brace with a paw pad.  The brace was made with two sets of joints to provide the greatest range of motion.  The first set of joints allows movement at the hock and the second set of joints allows movement at the tarsal.

The brace’s function is to provide stability to Leo’s tarsal and hock joints and keep the paw from knuckling. This was done by supporting the paw from below and removing the ability to hyperflex in the tarsal joint.  Unable to knuckle, Leo can walk normally, bear weight on the leg and build back the muscles in his leg.

Follow-Ups: Leo has returned regularly for check-ups and general maintenance of the brace. Upon his last check-up the abrasions have closed, and the fur is beginning to grow back on the cranial aspect of his paw. He is a young active dog that can now walk and play like a normal dog with the help of his brace. 

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!

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.

Case Study: Schatze – A Non-Surgical Patient with an Achilles Tendon Rupture

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Schatze, a 50-pound, 12-year-old Catahoula with a mid-body Achilles Tendon rupture.

Case of Interest: Schatze was a non-surgical candidate in need of support for her left hock due to an Achilles Tendon rupture.  She was initially seen at our clinic in December of 2017 and returns for regular check-ups almost two years later.  Most of our in-house patients visit our clinic three or four times over the course of a year.  In Schatze’s case, we’ve been able to watch her mature over seven appointments and look forward to providing her with care for years to come.

Diagnostic History: Schatze ruptured her left Achilles tendon while jumping into a car on December 5, 2017. She was seen shortly afterwards by an orthopedic veterinarian and was diagnosed with a mid-body calcaneal tendon rupture. She was not a surgical candidate due to being on prednisone for a low platelet abnormality. A wait-and-see approach was followed but she showed no signs of improvement even after stopping the medication. 

It was determined that she would benefit from a custom-made hock brace. The goal of the brace was to reduce any further damage to the calcaneal tendon or the digital flexor tendon, as well as to protect the skin from excessive pressure while walking in a plantigrade stance.

Schatze presented to our clinic on December 29, 2017, limping on her left hind leg. She was collapsing in her hock and in a plantigrade stance. She was contracting her digits on her left hind leg, indicating the superficial digital flexor tendon was still intact.

A cast was made of Schatze’s hind left leg from the distal ends of the nails up to the stifle.  From the cast, a jointed hock brace providing zero degrees of flexion at the joint was fabricated.  The degree of flexion was controlled by range of motion straps affixed to the back outer shell of the brace.  As healing occurred and strength returned, the range of motion straps could be lengthened to allow for greater flexion at the joint.

Less than a week after her casting, she returned for her delivery appointment. At this appointment, the fit of the brace was assessed and appropriate adjustments were performed. Once the brace was donned, Schatze walked with an exaggerated step and consistently put her foot down with more force than necessary.  Her walk normalized as she became accustomed to the brace.

Schatze’s owner was instructed on the proper care of the brace and that Schatze was to wear the brace during her waking hours, but not at night. No exercise restrictions were given, but it was recommended that she begin with 2-3 walks a day for around 10-15 minutes each to allow her to become familiar with the brace as well as to build up the muscle that atrophied during the months she favored the leg.

Follow- Ups: Schatze returned for follow-up appointments approximately 3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and 1.5 years from delivery. At each appointment the condition of Schatze’s skin and the overall leg were assessed. Appropriate adjustments and general maintenance were made to the brace such as replacing the sole of the brace.

Her walk continued to improve at each appointment as she became comfortable and confident in the brace. She was able to run and play in the brace. Schatze received a favorable report from her orthopedic vet when she followed up with them after receipt of the brace. Schatze continues to use the brace for her daily activities and is a happy and active girl.

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.

Case Study: Hector – A Rescue Dog From Kuwait With Nerve Damage And An Ulcer On His Elbow

By: Amy Rosenthal, My Pet’s Brace Practitioner

The Patient: Hector, a 2-year-old desert dog mix with severe carpal hyperextension and an ulcer on his olecranon (elbow).

Case of Interest: A local rescue organization with international ties learned of and adopted Hector from Kuwait.  Hector was severely collapsed on both of his front legs and walked on his elbows.  In Kuwait, he underwent surgery to repair a fractured radius and ulna in his right front leg.  He also sustained nerve damage in his left front leg and had an open ulcer on his olecranon.  When he was brought to the States, his left front leg was in a cast for several months to support the carpus and reduce the pressure on the ulcer on his elbow.  For a long-term solution, My Pet’s Brace recommended a brace to bring Hector into a more functional standing and walking position as well as to protect his olecranon and allow the open ulcer to heal.

Diagnostic History: Hector was seen at the My Pet’s Brace facility for the casting of his leg in March 2019 for a carpal brace.  The brace would replace the splint he was in for many months, stabilize his hyperextension and aid in the healing of the ulcer on his elbow. The brace was fitted to Hector and adjustments were made to ensure a proper and comfortable fit.

The carpal brace for Hector was made with an additional foam wedge affixed to the top outside of the brace.  The brace supports Hector’s leg in a more functional position and the added wedge lifts his leg off the ground when he lays down which allows air circulation and furthered the healing for the ulcer.

Hector was informed to begin wearing the brace for two hours the first day and increase an hour each day until he wore it during his active waking hours.  Hector’s activity and exercise were limited in the beginning of the break-in period until he became comfortable and the ulcer on his elbow healed.

Follow-Ups: Hector was seen two weeks, one and half months, and four and a half months post-delivery. During each of these appointments Hector’s skin was assessed and his overall comfort with the brace was examined. Adjustments and general upkeep were made accordingly.  As of his last appointment in August 2019, the ulcer on Hector’s elbow is fully healed and he is getting stronger every day.  Hector was also adopted by his forever family and is happily living life in his new home.

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.