Even on the saddest days, dog owners can't help but smile when they get home to their pups bouncing around with joy. For that simple reason, we always aim to keep our four-legged family members healthy and happy.
But as any dog parent knows, aging and other health conditions can bring confusing challenges. When we see our best friends in pain, it is common for anxiety and preoccupation to take over since we want to help them and ensure they stay on the path to a healthy and full life.
Mobility issues are one of the most common challenges dog owners face. Those problems can be caused by everything from arthritis to ligament injuries and muscle strains.
One of the most effective solutions is dog knee braces, which can help relieve pain and keep your dog moving comfortably.
If you are looking for answers about how to help your dog with knee braces, this guide compiles all the information about how they work, why they are so effective, and how you can incorporate them into your dog's routine for better life quality.
What Are Dog Knee Braces and How Do They Work?
Dog knee braces are special orthotic devices that can support your dog in knee injury, ligament strain, arthritis, and other joint issues. They are commonly made with a combination of plastic polymers and other lightweight materials, providing the dog extra stability and comfort while remaining active.
The knee braces provide additional support to the dog's joints and help them stay active without causing further damage to the strained ligaments or muscles.
Dog knee braces are designed to reduce the pain and take pressure off the knee joint, allowing your dog to move safely and comfortably again.
Are Dog Knee Braces Effective?
Knees are complex joints that bear a great load of the dog's weight while doing daily activities like walking, running, jumping, and even playing. If knee joints fail, it can be painful and uncomfortable for the dog and lead them to emotional and physical exhaustion.
One of the most common causes of vet visits is dog knee injuries and joint issues caused by the following conditions:
- Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tear
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear
- Meniscus tear
- Patellar luxation
- Muscle strain or sprain
Orthopedic treatments for dogs were once among the most difficult because the options were limited to surgery. Sadly, surgeries are invasive, expensive, and with high risks due to anesthetics.
Fortunately, dog knee braces have become a popular and incredibly effective alternative for providing stability and pain relief. Today, these orthopedic devices offer a wide range of designs that can perfectly adapt to the dog's style while providing dog owners with a cost-effective and noninvasive solution.
How to Measure Your Dog for a Knee Brace
Suppose you just went to the vet, and the diagnosis for your dog is that they need an orthopedic knee brace to recover or prevent further injuries. But when you get home, you realize that you don't know how to measure your dog for the proper custom-made brace, and you don't even know where to start.
No worries! Measuring your dog for an orthopedic knee brace is not as difficult as it seems as long as you carefully follow the steps our Bionic Pets experts suggest.
Step 1: Measure Your Dog’s Weight
The first step is to determine your dog's weight. This will assist you in selecting the best dog knee brace according to size.
Step 2: Measure the Circumference of Your Dog’s Knee
You will need a flexible measuring tape to take the dog's circumference. Place the dog in an upright position and measure the upper leg circumference starting from the dog’s hock, going up and around the dog's knee.
Step 3: Measure The Upper Leg’s Height
Once you have the dog's circumference, measure its upper leg height from its hock to mid-patella.
Step 4: Measure Above The Knee
Then, measure the dog's lower leg height from mid-patella to ankle. Under 15-pound dogs should be measured half an inch above the knee.
Step 5: Measure Below the Knee
Finally, measure the dog's lower leg circumference from below the knee to the dog's ankle.
Once you have all these measurements, you can contact us at Bionic Pets, and our dog knee brace experts will help you find the perfect device for your dog.
How to Make a Dog Knee Brace?
First things first, you must know that making a dog knee brace yourself is not the best option. This orthopedic device must be custom-made according to the dog's needs and measurements, requiring a lot of skill and knowledge.
However, emergencies may occur at any time. For that reason, knowing how to make a temporary homemade knee brace while seeking a long-term knee brace can save your dog's life.
If for some reason, you need to deal with an emergency or are just waiting to get a custom stifle brace, the steps below will guide you through the process.
You’ll Need the Following Materials
- 2 pieces of soft fabric (cotton or flannel work well)
- 1 piece of velcro
- Sewing machine (optional)
- Carefully measure your dog's leg from the top thigh to the bottom of its calf. Cut two pieces of fabric that are each twice this length.
- Fold each piece of fabric lengthwise, then fold it in half again. You should now have a long, thin strip of material, four layers thick.
- Turn the fabric strips inside out by sewing along the raw edge and stopping short of the fold.
- Place one of the velcro strips around your dog's thigh and the other around their calf. Attach the two strips, adjusting for a snug but comfortable fit.
- With extreme caution, take the dog's leg and gently wrap the knee brace around it.
Start from the dog's thigh and slowly roll down towards its calf. Secure both Velcro strips in place.
- Trim any excess fabric and make sure the dog knee brace fits properly.
This dog knee brace should help your dog recover from an injury and provide some relief while you seek a long-term solution.
How to Help a Dog With Arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain in dogs and anxiety in their owners. Dog arthritis can appear due to age, an injury, or a health condition.
The knee of dogs is composed of bones, ligaments, and cartilage. The arthritis condition causes degradation of the cartilage lines and the joint fluid that prevents the dog from having smooth movement. The dog will experience pain while moving when one of those elements fails.
A dog with arthritis requires much more attention and special care, and as dog parents, we are only sometimes prepared and informed about how to help our dog through this condition.
Physical therapy, a good diet, supplements, and a pair of tailored dog knee braces can all go a long way toward helping your dog manage the pain and discomfort of arthritis.
If you want to create a routine focused on making your arthritic dog happier and healthier, here are a few tips:
- Avoid surgeries and try on pet prosthetics instead
- Give them massages
- Help your dog stay active and mobile
- Provide comfortable resting spots
- Adjust their diet
How to Help a Dog With a Strained Muscle?
A strain muscle injury is a tear in the dog’s muscle fibers. Strained muscles in dogs can appear due to overexertion, improper exercise, or poor nutrition.
Usually, strained muscles appear in areas such as the dog’s legs, back, neck, and chest. The most common muscular strain occurs in a dog’s hind legs due to excessive jumping or running.
To determine if a dog strain muscle injury is present, dog owners should observe the dog’s behavior and take them to a veterinarian specializing in dog orthopedics.
If the dog strain muscle injury is confirmed, then it's important to give the dog some rest and take precautionary measures to prevent any possible complications.
Some of the most necessary precautions to help a dog with strained muscles are
Rest: The dog should abstain from strenuous physical activities, such as running and jumping, for a few weeks to let the dog strain muscle injury heal.
Ice: Place an ice bag on the dog’s strained muscles for 10 minutes and repeat this process three times a day.
Compression: Dog knee braces are a great solution for strain muscle injuries as they provide extra support and stabilize the dog’s joint.
Elevation: The dog should be placed in a position that raises the affected area above the dog’s heart. This will help reduce the dog’s swelling and inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory medication: Anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a veterinarian should be given to the dog to ease the dog’s pain and reduce swelling.
Rehabilitation exercises: After a few weeks of rest, dog owners should start implementing rehabilitation exercises that will help strengthen the dog’s strained muscles.
How Many Hours a Day Should a Dog Wear a Knee Brace?
Within the usage of knee braces for dogs, the amount of time a dog should wear them is a common question. As we know, dog knee braces are a comfortable and safe solution, but it is worth remembering they are still an external device that must be used properly to maximize their effects.
For dog owners, it is recommended to limit the dog's exposure with dog braces between 4-6 hours a day, and dog owners should remove the dog knee brace once the dog has finished being active.
If we leave the orthopedic piece for long periods, we may cause the dog to overheat, cause skin irritation, lack of circulation, bone calcium deposition, and even loosen the braces’ fit.
Can You Wrap a Dog’s Torn ACL?
An injury to the Cranial Cruciate Ligament, or CCL, is a common cause of lameness and limping in dogs. CCL is the ligament of the dog's knee that connects the femur to the tibia and prevents excessive movement between them. Unfortunately, this ligament is prone to tearing due to the dog's regular high activity and body weight.
Wrapping a dog's torn ACL is not recommended because it provides little support and does not improve their condition. Instead, dog owners should opt for knee braces that offer specialized support while allowing them to remain active and comfortable during recovery.
Can a Dog’s ACL Heal Without Surgery?
Dog ACL tears affect around one in five dogs and are among the most common dog knee injuries. Unfortunately, surgery is often the most common recommendation to restore the dog's mobility and functionality in its knee joint.
As we mentioned before, the nature of surgery is invasive and generally requires an extensive rehabilitation process for the dog to recover fully.
Thankfully, dog knee braces can be very helpful in these cases, improving dog gait and more freedom of movement.
The bottom line is that a torn CCL in dogs can often be healed without surgery. The key is to follow the advice of your veterinarian and give your pup the necessary care to help them recover as quickly as possible.
Can a Dog Live With a Torn ACL?
Even when a dog's ACL is a complex condition requiring special attention, dogs can cope with torn ACLs and live happy lives. Of course, dog parents must be aware of the dog's limitations and take all necessary precautions to reduce the strain.
Remember that even if you have the most clever furry friend, they always need extra help from us. If not treated properly, dog ACL can eventually cause lameness and other more severe dog injuries.
Creating optimal conditions for dogs with a torn ACL is not impossible, but it does require commitment and discipline from those responsible for taking care of them.
If you are looking for answers to a dog's ACL condition, the following tips will help you give your dog a better quality of life:
Get a professional Diagnosis.
The first step is to get an accurate diagnosis from a veterinarian to determine the dog's condition and the best action plan.
Evaluate different Treatment Options.
After the initial diagnosis, the professional veterinarian should provide additional treatment options, including dog knee braces and rehabilitation programs.
Learn to Live With a Torn CCL.
Once you have established the dog's condition and treatment plan, you must learn to accept your dog's limitations and adjust its lifestyle accordingly. You can help make their life more comfortable by doing the following:
- Keep them on a leash while outdoors
- Provide plenty of exercises
- Provide a comfortable place to sleep
- Encourage healthy foods
How Much Do Dog Prosthetics Cost?
The cost of custom braces is one of the main concerns dog parents have when they consider dog prosthetics. But since we are discussing an accessory with unique designs for each dog, it is hard to establish an exact price.
Generally, one prosthetic dog leg costs around $1,500 for the initial purchase, but it's also worth noting you may want to set aside about $100 in annual maintenance.
Our advice? Before buying a knee brace for your dog, consult orthopedic experts to get a proper diagnosis and measure the dog’s leg to select the right prosthetic and overall braces’ costs.
Give Your Best Friend the Chance to Enjoy Life.
Whatever your pet's condition, we assure you that with the right help and instruments, they can still live life to their fullest by your side.
At Bionic Pets, our main motivation is to create useful, effective, and comfortable prosthetic accessories for pets' best possible care.
Our founder, Derrick Campana, started by making prosthetics for humans until he seeded and cultivated the idea of creating dog knee braces and other dog orthotic devices. That is why he started creating dog knee braces, optimal torn ACLs, arthritis, and strained muscles treatment.
We craft dog knee braces that can be custom-made for your dog's anatomy to provide the best possible support and comfort. And as if that was not enough, we have an extensive collection of dog knee braces in different sizes, styles, and colors that adjust perfectly to every Bionic Pet style.
Our organization's plans include expanding to Bionic Barn, providing animal prosthetics.
We invite dog parents to visit us at Bionic Pets and see why dog knee braces are the best option. If you need more information or if you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We want to help your dog live as normally and comfortably as possible!
And remember to witness Derrick Campana save animals' lives on our tv show, Wizard of Paws. Now available on Disney+, BYUTV, Animal Planet, and Nat Geo.