When To Use A Small Dog Knee Brace

Smaller dog breeds aren’t as prone to knee injuries as their larger friends, but injuries and genetic conditions do still happen. Here are a few common things that may cause your pup to benefit from a small dog knee brace. 

Luxating Patella

A luxating patella sounds serious and scary, but it’s quite manageable. Let’s break down what it means: a patella is a kneecap and “luxating” means that it’s out of place. So a luxating patella just means that your dog’s knee cap has a habit of being in the wrong place. 

This condition can be extremely mild and may not affect your dog at all, or it can be noticeable or severe. You may see your little pup skip as they walk or run on occasion — that’s normally a telltale sign of a luxating patella. 

What Causes Patellar Luxation?

It’s normally caused by genetics, which leads to an unnaturally shallow kneecap. As your dog walks, their patellar ligament moves and forces the kneecap out of place on a vertical plane. 

It typically doesn’t hurt your dog if it’s mild, but more moderate cases can cause some pain or discomfort. A vet may recommend a dog leg brace to help stabilize their knee. 

Breeds Prone to Patellar Luxation 

Many toy or small breed dogs have a genetic predisposition for a luxating patella. This includes the following breeds: 

  • Maltese
  • Chihuahua
  • French Poodles
  • Bichon Frise

Chondrodystrophoid Breeds

Chondrodystrophy is a bit more serious than an out of place kneecap. It is a degenerative disease that affects your dog’s spinal disks. It often results in compression of the spinal cord, spinal nerve, and/or nerve root. 

It can cause the disk to bulge or rupture over time. This rupture leads to two types of damage to the spinal cord, compression and concussion. A small dog brace won’t prevent this disease, but it may help ease some of the symptoms associated with it. 

Symptoms of Chondrodystrophy 

The symptoms of this disease are wide-spread and often vary from dog to dog, so if you suspect your dog has a back problem, contact your vet right away. Here are some of the things to look out for:

  • Neck and/or back pain and stiffness 
  • Lowered head stance
  • Abdominal tenderness or tenseness
  • Arched back/hunched posture
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Weakness, stiffness, and/or sensitivity to movement 
  • Impaired, incomplete or inappropriate urination
  • Lameness and/or paralysis in one or more limbs
  • Dragging one or more legs when walking
  • “Toeing over” or “knuckling over” when walking or standing
  • Stilted gait; tentative gait
  • Reluctance to rise and/or collapse
  • Tremors, trembling, shaking
  • Lack of coordination
  • Abnormal reflexes

Dogs Prone to Chondrodystrophy 

Small dog breeds that are most prone to this are those with elongated bodies. Think of breeds like the following: 

  • Dachshunds
  • Beagles
  • Shih Tzus 
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • Pekingeses

CCL tears

Most dog breeds that are at a higher risk to tear their CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) are large, but it can still happen in smaller dogs. Larger dogs are more likely to tear the ligament in their knee due to their weight, growth rate, and energy levels. Smaller dogs can still hurt themselves by participating in normal activities, like running outside, which can lead to them stumbling and falling, jumping and landing wrong, or tumbles or falls off rocks, stairs, or changes in terrains. 

If your small dog is a weekend warrior — meaning if they get most, if not all of their exercise over the weekend or in a span of a couple days — then they are more likely to injure themselves too. This is because their muscles aren’t used to the strain. They’re used to lounging around during the week, not hiking or running a mile. 

In this case, you’ll find that preventive care is essential. Braces from Doggy Brace are designed just for that purpose — to protect your dog’s leg from injury. It works just like a compression sleeve or a knee brace you see on athletes. The braces discourage your pet from making too tight or too quick movements, which is the leading cause for torn CCLs.

Remember, that just because your dog is smaller, doesn’t mean the injuries don’t happen. Keep an eye on your pup and if you notice anything abnormal in how they walk, sit, or stand, or if they don’t want to put their weight on one of the legs, call your vet right away. They’ll be able to determine the cause of the injury and will recommend an appropriate treatment plan.