When to Use a Dog Brace: Sprained vs. Torn ACL

A brace is often advertised as an alternative for knee or leg surgery. While this is technically true, it all depends on your dog and the type of injury their knee or leg sustained. When it comes to their ACL (technically a dog has a cranial cruciate ligament but for colloquialism, this blog will use ACL), a brace can help support them during their recovery or prevent further injury — a completely torn ACL will not heal on its own with conservative treatment. The “healing” is actually the formation of scar tissues, which helps stabilize the leg but can cause issues later in your dog’s life.

So, when it comes to ACL injuries, when does a brace help your dog? Doggy Brace has the answers.

What Do Dog ACL Injuries Look Like?

First and foremost, only a vet can diagnose your dog’s potential leg injury. Do not try to self diagnose it or start treatment without knowing what is wrong with them!

Knees are complex joints and injuries such as sprains and minor tears are common among our canine friends. ACL injuries all have similar symptoms, which can cause your dog pain. Be on the lookout for lameness, limping, if your dog is sitting abnormally, has stiff movements, or swelling near their knee.

You may think that means your dog tore its ACL, but that’s not necessarily the case. Not all knee injuries are torn ACLs, and not all torn ACL are complete tears. Again, talk with your vet. They will be able to diagnose the extent of the injury and recommend a treatment plan.

Let’s look at the types of ACL injuries.

A Sprained ACLs in Dogs

Medically speaking, sprains harm the ligaments that connect bones. This can lead to joint damage if not properly taken care of. Sprains are common and can happen when your dog is jumping, running, or steps wrong (think if they stumble into a hole). They can happen to your dog’s knees, wrists/ankles, and hips.

One of the most serious injuries is a moderately or severely sprained ACL.

There are different levels of sprains: mild, moderate, and severe. A mild sprain should not require surgery. It is simply a stretched ligament with microscopic tears that should stabilize with minimal scar tissue over time. A mild sprain does not affect the ability of the knee to support the limb, but it may cause your dog to limp and avoid putting weight on their leg.

This is where a brace will be optimal. Doggy Brace is designed for preventive care and recovery from sprained ACLs. It provides support while minimizing movement to prevent further injury. For more information on how a brace works, check out Doggy Brace’s information page on Dog ACL Braces.

Be sure to monitor your dog while they are recovering and do not let them jump or run around, as both actions can worsen the sprain. You can also put an ice pack or heating pad on the injury to provide relief. Your vet may provide you with anti-inflammatories to help your dog too.

Torn ACLs in Dogs | Moderate & Severe Sprains

Moderate or severe sprains are torn ACLs in dogs (partial and complete tears). The degree of the injury varies for each, but the solution is the same for them: surgery. As stated above, a torn ACL will not heal on its own. Over time, scar tissue will form to stabilize the joint, but scar tissue is fragile and lacks the elasticity your dog needs to comfortably move around as they get older.

However, not all dogs are candidates for surgery. Depending on your dog’s age, overall health, and if they have an aversion to anesthetics, they may not be able to handle surgery to fix their leg. If this is the case, braces for an injured ACL can help support your dog’s joint so they can comfortably move while they recover.

A brace can help your dog feel comfortable putting weight on their injury. You can use it after your pet recovered too — the brace will help keep them comfortable.

Other Reasons Your Dog Is Limping

An ACL injury or a sprain is not the only thing that will cause a limp. Your dog could have hip dysplasia or arthritis.


If you notice your dog has difficulty moving around or limps, it could be due to arthritis. You can’t prevent arthritis, but you can ease the symptoms. Doggy Brace can help support your dog’s limbs and keep their joints happy so they’re not slowed down by aching joints.

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.

Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket. If severe, it can cause lameness and arthritis. In most cases, hip dysplasia is hereditary and very common in larger dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

Outside of genetics, hip dysplasia can be worsened by a few key factors such as weight, growth rate, and exercise, according to the American Kennel Club. A dog brace can help with both hip dysplasia and arthritis by easing the symptoms and helping your dog move around the house and yard, pain-free. If you’re interested in how braces work, check out Doggy Brace today.


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