How a Dog Leg Brace for their ACL Works and How to Use it
Some dog leg braces are for very specific purposes so be sure you research each type to know if it’s right for your pup. For instance, a dog leg brace could be used to their ACL (technically called a CCL for cranial cruciate ligament), for their wrists/ankles, for their elbows, or for their leg bones. They all accomplish the same goal — to support the affected area while helping your dog be mobile — but are designed to help very different problems.
For example: a Doggy Brace shouldn’t be used to help your dog recover from a sprained paw or a broken bone! This is because our brace doesn’t go down to their paw and it doesn’t provide enough compression to help a broken bone heal.
So, how does a dog leg brace for an ACL work?
How a Dog Leg Brace for ACL Works
First, you need to understand what the ACL (again, technically it’s a CCL) is. The ACL is a ligament in your dog’s knee, which is only in your dog’s hind legs. Because of how a dog’s hind leg is built, their ACL is always undergoing strain. This means it’s very easy for it to become sprained.
A mild sprain isn’t a big deal and normally doesn’t need any additional medical attention from your vet. A moderate sprain and severe sprain are more severe, as they result in partial or full tears of the ligament.
A dog leg brace for their ACL is designed to either provide support, which helps dogs who are either at risk for tearing their ACL or who injured it in the past and recovered/are recovering, or pain relief for dogs who aren’t a candidate for surgery or are recovering from a surgery.
Using a Brace for Structural Support
As you may have guessed, dog leg braces are fundamentally used to help support their legs. For Doggy Brace and others that are used to their dog’s ACL, the method behind them is very much like an athletic compression sleeve.
A dog’s leg is not built for quick and tight movements. In fact, those two things combined are one of the leading causes for ACL injuries. A brace that is designed for structural support knows this — it is made to restrict most unnatural movement and discourage your dog from making too tight of turns.
Some dogs are more prone to leg injuries too! Their age, weight, and breed all play a factor in their chances of injuring their ACLs. Studies have shown that St. Bernards, Labradors, Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, Rottweilers, and Akitas are more predisposed to ACL injuries. Older dogs and those that are overweight have a higher chance of injury too. Doggy Brace significantly reduces the risk of a sprained ACL (or worse) because of the added support.
Recovery from Injury
A dog ACL brace can also help if your dog is recovering from, or has recovered from ACL surgery. Many studies have shown that if a dog has torn one ACL, it’s more likely to tear the other. Why? It’s because if your dog has a sprained ACL, or if they’re recovering from on, they will avoid putting weight on their injury.
This avoidance leads to them overcompensating. They’ll shift too much weight onto their good leg, which adds more strain to their ACL. Putting a brace on their good leg helps reduce that chance!
Using the Brace for Pain Relief
Braces help prevent excessive movement and rotation while supporting your dogs knee and reducing the risk of injury. They’ll help your dog comfortably put weight on their limb as it recovers. Think of the pain relief brace like a human knee brace — one that allows you to move around with less pain and more endurance than if you didn’t have it.
Others may find comfort and peace of mind in wearing a knee brace, especially those who suffer from arthritis or chronic pain from a previous injury.
Some custom braces are built to immobilize the knee almost entirely. They’re almost more like a hard cast than a brace. These are more for severe injuries, such as a fractured bone paired with a torn ligament, and are designed to keep your dog’s leg still while the injury heals. These are usually not suited for ACL recovery alone.
How to Use a Doggy Brace
As mentioned above, Doggy Brace is designed for preventative care to reduce the risk of your dog injuring their ACL. They are easy to use too. For visual instructions on how to use the brace, check out our video!
How to use a Doggy Brace:
- Undo and loosen all of the straps
- Turn the brace so the logo faces outside
- Slip your dog’s leg into the brace like a sleeve
- Pull the backstrap over their hips
- Tighten all of the straps as needed
If they don’t like the backstrap, you can remove it without compromising the brace’s functionality or integrity. To remove it:
- Find the base of the backstrap on the left and right side
- Using scissors, cut it off as close to the seam as possible without cutting the actual brace
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