Everything in the medical community seems to be debated, so we at Doggy Brace wanted to take some time to clear up some myths around using torn ACL braces for dogs. For the sake of colloquialism, we will be referring to the dog’s cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) as the anterior cruciate ligament. They are essentially the same thing, though an ACL is in humans, while a CCL is in dogs.
We are (obviously) biased towards dog braces, but that will not stop us from revealing the truth to you. So, let’s begin.
Myth #1: Dog ACL Braces Do Not Work
Many will claim in anecdotes that a dog ACL brace does not work. They do work when used correctly. A brace is not always a suitable alternative to surgery if your dog requires surgery. It should only be used for preventive care, recovery, or when surgery is not an option for your dog.
Torn ACLs do not heal on their own. A brace is designed to support your dog’s leg, restrict its movement, and make it easier to move around comfortably. Scar tissue will eventually form to help stabilize the limb, but your dog’s leg may never be the same.
For preventive care, a brace disallows the backwards sliding of the femur on the tibia, thus reducing the chance of the ACL from stretching and tearing.
For recovery, the brace prevents further injury, while supporting your dog’s leg and restricting movement.
In short, they do work when used correctly and when surgery is not an option. They are designed to help your dog resume their pain-free lifestyle.
Myth #2: They’re Hard To Use
We’ll admit, some dog leg braces can be harder than figuring out a child car seat. Some of them have too many moving parts, too many straps, and sizing can be a total nightmare. If you do your research and read real customer reviews, you’ll be able to find a simple brace that will work for your pup.
Look for websites with active support pages too! A direct line of contact can be invaluable for sizing questions.
We’re biased, but we recommend our braces because we provide an easy to use and accurate sizing chart for your dog based on its weight, tibia length and upper thigh circumference. We also sell braces for all breeds, from extra small Chihuahuas to the largest Mastiffs.
Myth #3: My Dog Will Hate It
This myth really depends on your dog. We can’t guarantee that your dog will be thrilled with wearing a brace, but we also can’t promise they will hate it. You, as the owner, know your dog best. If they destroy sweaters, then they probably won’t be a fan of a brace.
But you never know! Braces are designed to be comfortable (if they fit correctly) and your dog should barely notice it. ACL braces are flexible too. Every company makes them differently: some use plastic shells above and below the knee, while others use padded wraps. Most of them are connected with velcro to make it easy to attach and remove them. In some cases, a strap goes over your dog’s back.
At Doggy Brace, our back strap is completely optional too! If you prefer having the added support for your dog, we recommend leaving it on. However, if your dog has back problems or if they don’t like it there, you can easily cut it off without damaging the strap. We guarantee removing the strap will not impact the final result.
Myth #4: Surgery Is Always A Better Option
This is simply not true. While surgery is the only way to fix a torn ACL, it is not always an option for dogs. Older dogs or those with health issues or aversions to anesthetics may not be able to get surgery.
Talk with your vet and weigh your options. Beyond health concerns, surgery can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000, which is a large chunk of change if you don’t have pet insurance to help.
Dogs can still lead a normal lifestyle with an injured ACL, though they may not be able to go on longer walks or run as well. As we said above, scar tissue will build up around the injury and stabilize the joint.
There are alternative treatment options available that center around pain management, support, and recovery, such use a brace or prolotherapy for large dog breeds.
Prevention is Always Key
As always though, preventative care is a must to avoid injuries. Observe your dog’s play time and train them out of habits that can cause injuries. Look for sudden and harsh turns, a tendency to bolt forward, large leaps and bounds, and the want to jump off of higher locations.
If your dog is an athletic dog or participates in competitions, be sure you’re watching their form and correcting any bad movements.
In all cases, a brace, paired with proper training, can drastically reduce the probability of your dog injuring their ACL. Check us out at Doggy Brace today to see if we are the right fit for you and your dog.