What’s the Difference? A Dog ACL Brace vs Surgery

We know how difficult it can be to see your dog in pain, especially when you don’t know how to help. It can seem impossible read your dog’s mind to figure out what’s wrong too. If they’re limping, then is may be caused by stiffeness, a sprain, ACL injury, torn nail, or paw injury. There are a few ways to remedy all of those problems and we’re going to compare a dog ACL brace vs. surgery.

Before we jump into that let’s go over a few reasons why your dog may be limping. Not all of them will need surgery to correct — some may need time to heal on their own! After that, we’ll focus on the difference between a dog ACL brace vs. surgery.

Reasons Why Your Dog Is Limping

There are many different reasons as to why your dog may be limping. It is important to do your best to notice how serious the injury may be. Your dog may give you certain signals that you should watch out for.  They could be limping or struggling to walk or run for any of these reasons:

  • Stiffness
  • Sprain
  • Arthritis
  • Lyme disease
  • Bug bites
  • ACL tear
  • Dislocated kneecap

If you notice limping it is important to take notice if it is simply a sprain from running and jumping, or if your dog has a more serious injury. How can you tell? Watch how your dog moves around. If they’re stiff, then they should only limp after laying down for a longer period.

They may have started limping after a walk or playtime and they’re refusing to put weight on their leg. That’s usually a sign that something more serious is going on. It could be their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or, more accurately known as a cranial cruciate ligament (CCL).

If you are fearful that your dog may have a torn ACL take them to your vet immediately. Below we list a few symptoms of a torn ACL in your dog:

  • Swelling
  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Unwillingness to run or jump
  • Atrophy of muscles

ACLs do not heal on their own — the tear eventually becomes covered in scar tissue, which will support their leg, but can lead to arthritis, long-lasting soreness, pain, and limping. We don’t recommend leaving your dog with a tore ACL! The injury can reoccur with simple tasks, like your dog playing, chasing animals, or just jumping up onto the couch.

Choosing a Dog ACL Brace vs Surgery

Like we said before, torn ACLs do not heal on their own. More often than not your vet will recommend surgery for a torn ACL.

However, if the injury is only a sprain or microtear, then a dog ACL brace may be the right course of action. Your vet may sometimes recommend a dog knee brace depending on your dog’s age. Due to age and other potential conditions during or after surgery some dogs are not the best candidate for ACL surgery

If your furry friend has a small tear or just a soft tissue injury it will usually take around 2 months for the injury to heal with simply a dog brace to support their leg. Because the injury does not require surgery a dog brace is perfect to help keep the knee stabilized and supported. The brace helps to limit movement as your dog walks around, which supports their leg and restricts any rotations that may exacerbate their injury.

Depending on how bad your dog’s knee injury is your vet may recommend surgery as the only option. While this is rather expensive you may want to take into serious consideration what your vet thinks is best for you and your dog. After surgery it is still smart to get a knee brace for your dog as a stabilizer. After all, your dog will need extra support getting strength back in their injured leg!


As you look for a knee brace for your dog and begin to understand the difference between an ACL dog brace vs surgery you will find that our braces are some of the best! We are of course big fans of dogs ourselves and understand just how important your dog can be to your life. At Doggy Brace we strive to help you and your furry friends come to a full recovery with our knee braces.


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