When to Use a Brace for a Torn ACL in Dogs

A brace is an affordable way to be proactive about your dog’s health. If you’re looking to use a brace for your dog’s torn ACL (technically CCL, but we’ll use ACL for colloquialism), then you won’t be using it correctly. A dog ACL brace from Doggy Brace is not designed to be an alternative to surgery. 

But before we get into all of that, let’s look at your dog’s rear leg really quick. Underneath all that fur is a kneecap that is held together by their ACL. While similar to your knee, it’s not quite the same: a dog’s knee is always slightly bent, meaning their femur (the top leg bone) is always sitting slanted on their tibia (their lower leg bone). The slant adds constant strain to your dog’s ACL, which is why a minor sprain or a full ACL tear is so common. 

However, an ACL can’t heal on its own. Over time, your dog’s rear leg will stabilize itself with scar tissue, but this isn’t a full recovery. Your dog’s leg will probably get stiff over time and develop arthritis much faster if you opt to not have them undergo surgery. 

So, if a brace isn’t a good alternative to surgery because it doesn’t promote healing, when should you use it? 

Prevent Injuries with a Brace

The best care you can give anyone is preventative care. It’s why we take vitamins every day, why we stretch to warm up before working out, and why we wear seat belts — it’s all to prevent something that might happen. Here at Doggy Brace, we applied the same logic to preventing one of the most common leg injuries for canines with our brace design. It’s built to restrict unnatural leg movement so your dog won’t be tempted to make too tight turns, or run too quickly for their legs. 

This is especially true for certain dog breeds that love to run and have heaps of energy, or dogs that just grow too quickly for their body to keep up. Think of breeds like St. Bernards and Labradors. One is huge and grows quickly out of their puppyhood and the other just loves to be active. Both are at risk for leg injuries — even more so than other breeds, in fact! 

A brace is also perfect if your dog or puppy is a bit unstable when they walk. If you notice them stumbling and tripping often (and it’s not caused by Cerebellar Hypoplasia, then a brace may help them keep surer footing. Or, at the very least, could help prevent a leg injury if they step wrong. 

Using a Dog Leg Brace During Surgery Recovery 

A brace is helpful when your dog is recovering from an ACL surgery. We have a blog on the recovery process, so be sure to check that out if your dog is about to go, or has undergone, leg surgery recently.  A brace can help support their leg as they grow accustomed to putting more weight on it. 

You should ask a vet when it is safe to put a brace over your dog’s injuries. This should be after their stitches or staples are removed. As always, keep the wound clean, dressed, and be careful when putting on and removing the brace so you don’t further agitate the injury or hurt your dog.  

Recovery is a long process, so the biggest thing you can have during this time is patience. Don’t force anything, especially the use of a brace! Your dog is going to be in a bit of pain and introducing a new thing to the spot that is hurting them too quickly may not be the best idea. If your dog is not liking the brace, take it off and try again another day. 

A brace is not only for their injured leg too! If your dog is injured or just underwent leg surgery, chances are that they won’t be happy putting their full weight on their affected leg. This shift in weight increases the chances of them injuring their other leg. A brace on their healthy leg can help prevent another injury while they’re recovering. 

But Not As An Alternative to Surgery?

Correct. Our braces are not designed to take the place of surgery, unless in extreme circumstances. We understand that not all dogs are able to undergo surgery or that you may opt out of the procedure, as it is expensive, invasive, and a dog can live a long and happy life even if they tear their ACL. Just remember that your dog’s ACL will stabilize over time, but it will never fully heal. 

If you have any questions on how Doggy Brace can help your dog, we’re here to help. You can contact us any time at support@doggybrace.com

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