We are all about preventative care for dogs here at Doggy Brace. We want to help your dogs before they get injured and support them so they can live a long and happy life. That’s what our dog ACL braces are specifically designed for!
Did you know that some breeds are more likely to injure their CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) than others? The predisposition is sometimes referred to as the CCL rupture trait. The rule of thumb is that the larger the breed is, the more likely they are to develop knee problems later in life or during puppyhood. The breeds are Labrador Retrievers, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, and Newfoundlands.
For larger breeds, hip and knee issues are common as puppies transition into their adult bodies. Think of a Newfoundland, for example, which can easily reach 150 pounds when they are adults. The breed starts as a 20-pound puppy. They’ll be packing on over 100 pounds in under a year, which is very stressful on their body. If their growth is not supported by proper nutrition and careful exercise, your puppy could tear their ACL at a very young age.
Thankfully, puppies are resilient and spring back fairly well after surgery. And because they grow so quickly, a brace may not be the best option for keeping their joints comfortably restricted.
How do you know if your dog is at risk? Let’s break that down.
Is My Dog At Risk for Leg Injuries?
Specific breeds, like the ones we mentioned above at an increased risk to tear their ACL due to their size, energy level, and genetics. For instance, Rottweilers are 2-5x more likely to experience issues with their CCL and hip dysplasia than other breeds due to their size.
Dogs prone to other degenerative illnesses or injuries, such as hip dysplasia, are also at an increased risk. This is all due to how they shift their weight when they’re injured. Think of it like this: if you sprain your ankle, you limp and put more weight onto your good leg. Your dog does the same thing. However, this type of correction can be bad for them!
If your dog over-corrects and puts too much weight on one side of their body, that can strain their limbs. This can lead to sprained or torn ACLs, especially if they start running, jumping, or playing.
One leg injury can always lead to another, which is why it is important to observe your dog and restrict their movement until they are healed or properly supported with a brace or cast (depending on the type of injury).
In a past blog, we looked at specific breeds and dived deeper into why they have a higher chance for knee and hip injuries. Check that out here.
Managing your Dog’s Age
When your dog gets older, it’s natural for them to slow down and develop health issues such as arthritis. Sadly, there is no cure for old age, but you can still help support your dog during their golden years.
Their joints can become tighter and arthritic. Arthritis can lead to muscle atrophy. If your senior dog is avoiding exercise, its muscle mass may begin breaking down, causing thinner legs, a thinner body and trouble standing. A brace can help support their limbs and promote exercise, as it takes some of the pain of arthritis away.
Senior dogs also gain more weight. This is normal as their metabolism slows, their nutritional needs change, and their level of activity decreases. Feeding them the right senior dog food can help with their health.
Promoting Good Exercise Habits
Active dogs are at an increased risk for leg and knee injuries, which makes total sense. After all, athletes are more prone to hurting their legs than those who don’t play sports! Like humans, dogs can overwork themselves or get too overzealous with their playtime. They can trip and stumble, land wrong after a jump, or not see a hole in the ground and misstep.
As their owner, it’s your job to be their athletic trainer. You will need to monitor their activity and be aware of when they need a break, as well as hazards where they are playing. You will also need to make a schedule for them, so they’re active every day for a set amount of time. Making your dog run a marathon over the weekend to catch up on lost exercise is a one-way ticket to health problems!
We have a ton of blogs that go in-depth on how to prevent leg injuries, especially while exercising, so be sure to check those out. And if you have any questions about dog leg braces and how they help prevent injuries, contact us at any time.