As pet parents, it hurts our very own hearts to see our canine companions suffer. It’s likely you’re here because your pet has suffered a knee injury, and you’re looking for solutions. The good news is, there are a lot of them out there, and a knee brace for dogs can be an excellent aid in healing your pup’s hurt leg. Doggy Advice is here to help you understand dog knee braces, which one might be the best bet for your pet, and to answer the FAQs that folks most commonly ask about dog knee braces.
Signs of Knee Injury In Dogs
First things first, let’s define “knee” in terms of doggy anatomy. Since canines are quadrupeds (they walk on four legs instead of two), it’s easy to think of the joints in any of their legs as “knees” or something similar to the knee in the human sense.
Here’s a little bit of terminology trivia for you, though. Your dog’s front leg joints are actually considered elbows rather than knees, while the primary joints of the back legs are much more closely related to our knees. In your vet’s vocabulary, this joint is called the stifle or the tibiofemoral joint.
Now that we know what’s where in terms of Fido’s bones, we can talk about how to spot signs of trauma or injury to your dog’s knees (or elbows).
- Limping – you may see your furry friend favoring a limb and not bearing their total weight on a particular paw. This is a sign that something isn’t feeling quite right to your pup. It could be that they picked up a sticker or a thorn from their romp through the park, but if you can’t find anything immediately apparent, there’s a chance it’s an injury.
- Lameness – if you see that your pup can’t put any weight on a particular limb at all, that’s a sure sign there’s trauma, injury, or pain of some kind.
- Avoiding Activities – Let’s say your furry best friend can usually be found curled up beside you on the couch, but suddenly you notice they aren’t hopping up to join you. Or, your dog ordinarily adores car rides, but they’re not showing any interest in a ride-along these days. Losing interest or not being able to do the day-to-day activities they usually love is a good tip-off that your pet could be in pain.
How A Knee Brace Can Help
If you’ve noticed any of the above signs, it might be time to consider checking in with your vet. Keeping in close contact with your regular vet is sound advice for all pet parents, and a visit to the vet is the most essential step in helping your pet heal if there’s been an accident or an emergency event that left your pet’s leg injured. Whether you decide to try it out on your own at home or your vet recommends it, here’s how a knee brace can aid your pup’s ailing limb.
Full Support – A knee brace will offer your dog extra support so that your pup doesn’t bear their full weight on an injured joint. The stability provided helps your fur baby stay as mobile as possible during the healing process.
Pain, Pain, Go Away – Pushing a joint to do more than it should while healing can add to your pup’s agony, so lightening the load also decreases pain.
Support Equals Stability – Along with the redistributed weight, the brace will also keep your pup more steady on their paws, which leads to less risk of new falls or accidents.
Cost/Benefit Analysis – A custom brace can cost a pretty penny, but the one-size-fits-all-dogs variety runs up to about $150. That’s not exactly small change either, but it’s certainly less than surgery or long term use of expensive medications.
Steer Clear of Surgery – In instances of mild injuries, a knee brace could clear up your pup’s problem all on its own, thereby avoiding more invasive treatment like surgery. Of course, consulting with your vet is the best way to decide about your pet’s major medical events.
When To Use A Knee Brace
Canine knee braces can be used in all sorts of situations. They can help lessen or prevent pain, protect and stabilize an injury, or keep your dog from licking a healing wound. Here are some more specific instances you may face as a pet parent where a knee brace can be an excellent solution.
ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament. It’s also sometimes called the cranial cruciate ligament, or the CCL, in case you hear your vet use either term. Unfortunately, this kind of injury in our furry friends usually calls for surgery, just like it does in human knees. However, a brace can be useful for pain relief and stabilization both before and after surgery.
This is fancy terminology for a knee cap (patella) that won’t stay put. If your pup’s patella is luxating, that means it’s moving around rather than staying in place over the joint. This seemingly small problem can turn severe with time, resulting in osteoarthritis, the need for surgery, and even the loss of use of the leg. A knee brace is more like a preventative measure in this case, as it has the potential to help the patella stay in place, though there are no guarantees it will be enough to do the trick.
Like the disease of the same name in humans, canine arthritis can create a level of pain and discomfort that debilitates your pet. The result of inflammation in the joints, this condition doesn’t respond to surgery, so your pet’s treatment plan, drawn up with the help of your veterinarian, will likely include long-term use of a brace as well as anti-inflammatory medications and even dietary and lifestyle changes.
As we mentioned in the case of luxating patellas above, sometimes a knee brace is used as a preventative measure. If you’ve noticed your once-active pup packing on the pounds with age, it may not be a bad idea to use a knee brace to prevent injuries that can occur from being overweight. Of course, it’s a solid plan to use the knee brace alongside implementing a routine that includes exercise and a healthy diet to keep you and your furry best friend feeling fine and dandy for as long as possible.
Dog Knee Brace Buying Guide
There are several factors to consider when looking for a knee brace for your Fido. Canine knee braces are relatively niche, and without crossing over into custom-made territory, you’re not going to have a super-wide range of options. Still, you’ll want to select the best brace for your furry buddy.
Canine Comfort Factor
If you were going to be wearing a knee brace for hours on end, the first thing you’d think of would be the device’s comfort. Consider the same when choosing a dog knee brace for your canine companion. The question of comfort in canine knee braces involves factors like padding and ventilation. You’ll find that manufacturers tend to trend toward one or the other, with some braces offering ample cushion for high-pressure points and others touting breathability as a bonus. In the end, it’s up to you and your pup which option provides the most comfort in your unique circumstances.
One of the primary functions of your dog’s knee brace will be to provide support and thereby greater stability. The support offered by a brace will vary by design. Some braces will hold only the joint itself and the portion of the leg closest to the joint. Other braces are designed to cover the entirety of the leg and even wrap around your pup’s back or attach to their harness for maximum structural support.
Easy Off & On
Typically, a knee brace will only be worn while your pup is out-and-about and active. That means during the bulk of the daytime hours, when they’re going about their doggy day-to-day, they’ll need the brace. At nighttime, or when your pup is resting, you’ll likely be removing the brace. That adds up to a lot of put-on and take-off for you as a pet parent, so you’ll want to be sure the brace you select isn’t too complicated or difficult for you and your pet to maneuver multiple times a day.
A knee brace needs to be made of reasonably tough stuff to stand up to your pup’s day-to-day adventures. Obviously, you’ll want to discourage your pet from chewing, scratching, or otherwise destroying their knee brace, but you also have to consider that it could happen. Plus, there’s everything your canine could encounter in the great outdoors, or even your own backyard, like stickers, sharp branches, fences, and the like. To prevent damage and keep your canine protected, consider a dog knee brace made of a staunch and sturdy material like neoprene. Regardless of the manufacturing material, be sure you feel that you’ve found a high-quality brace for your fur baby.
FAQs About Dog Knee Braces
Consulting with your vet is always your best source of information about how to care for your canine companion. Especially in the case of something so specific to the needs of your pup as a knee brace. In the meantime, Doggy Advice offers answers to some of the most commonly asked questions around dog knee braces.
Can A Knee Brace Help My Dog?
The answer to this one depends on your pup and the unique circumstances of your situation. A knee brace can certainly help provide support and stability. It can help to reduce pain. And, braces can be used as preventative measures in some cases.
Will A Dog Knee Brace Help With ACL problems?
In doggos, as in humans, a torn ACL usually requires surgery to completely resolve the problem. However, a knee brace can help both before and after in lessening the pain and offering support for your pup’s injured joint.
Will My Dog Have To Wear A Brace All The Time?
If your dog has knee problems, or you’re using the brace preventatively, as in the case of an overweight pup, your dog will likely wear their knee brace during most of their waking hours. The brace must be used to offer support during the more active parts of their day in order for the brace to be most effective. Your vet will probably advise that you take it off at night so your dog can rest comfortably.
Do I Have To See The Vet For A Knee Brace?
No, you don’t necessarily have to, but yes, you should. Technically you don’t need a prescription or some kind of go-ahead from your vet for a brace. But don’t skip the office visit just yet. If your dog is limping, has an obvious injury, or even if you’re just worried that their extra weight could result in problems, you’ll need to consult your vet. Your vet can help you choose the most appropriate brace for your pet and can even help you fit it correctly when you put it on the first time so that you and your fur baby are both comfortable using it.
How Much Does A Dog Knee Brace Cost?
The best answer to this question is that it’s entirely up to you and your budget how much you spend on your dog’s knee brace. A one-size-fits-all dog knee brace like the ones you’ll find on the shelf of your local pet store will generally run between $30 and $150. Alternatively, you can have a custom-made brace created for your canine, but the price tags tend to get much higher.
We know it stings when you witness your pup suffering, especially with painful knee or joint injuries. That’s why Doggy Advice compiled this information on how dog knee braces can help heal your canine companion. Armed with your new knowledge and a visit to the vet, you can choose the right dog knee brace to get your pup on the mend and moving again.