Just like us, dogs can suffer from a range of knee problems – from simple sprains, to torn ligaments, to arthritis. No one want to see their pooch suffer, and it’s easy to feel helpless when they’re hit by this kind of injury. Luckily, the canine knee brace is here to help.
These non-rigid braces are designed to support the knee, improving mobility and helping injuries to heal. With cases of ligament damage, some veterinary professionals may even suggest a brace as an alternative to conventional surgery. If you think your pooch could benefit from a knee brace, read on, as we run through the top 10 options on the market right now, and answer some common questions about these useful medical devices.
Best Dog Knee Braces Buying Guide & FAQ
These 10 braces represent the best on the market right now, and we’re confident that there’s something on our list to meet every pooch’s need. To help you decide, and get the most out of your new brace, we’ve put together this handy buying guide.
Below we discuss what to look out for when buying a knee brace for your dog, and how these handy devices could benefit your pooch.
What to Look for in a Dog Knee Brace
When it’s time to select a knee or leg brace for your dog, look out for the following features:
- A Snug Fit
With the best will in the world, a canine knee brace simply won’t fit if it’s the wrong size. For this reason, it’s important to measure your dog before you invest in one. Most manufacturers make braces in a variety of sizes, so you’re sure to find one that works for your pet. It’s also a good idea to choose a brace specifically designed for whichever leg is affected – rear leg braces offer a slightly different fit than their front leg counterparts.
Providing support to tender joints is the main function of any canine leg brace, so it’s important to select one that’s up to the task. Look out for multiple straps, as this ensures the fit is snug enough to provide the stability required. It’s also a good idea to choose a brace which has been veterinarian approved.
- Comfort Features
Your dog’s comfort is important, and the design of a leg brace can hugely influence it. Look out for a brace with a soft coating, that won’t pinch or chafe against your pet’s skin, and remember to remove the brace for a while every few hours so your dog’s leg can breathe.
One of the best materials for a canine leg brace is neoprene. Best known as the fabric that wetsuits are made from, neoprene is tough enough to stabilize your dog’s leg, but soft enough to keep them comfortable.
Benefits of Using a Dog ACL Brace
One of the most common injuries sustained by dogs is damage to their cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). This ligament is analogous to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) found in humans, so these injuries are often described as ‘ACL’ conditions, even though this is technically inaccurate.
The CCL ligament connects the back of your dog’s femur (the bone above their knee) to the front of the tibia (the bone below the knee). The CCL keeps the tibia in place, and stabilizes the knee joint. When a dog’s CCL is damaged, they may limp, and the area may become swollen. Some dog breeds are more prone to CCL injuries: Labradors, Newfoundlands, German shepherds, rottweilers, and golden retrievers are all more likely to sustain these injuries than smaller breeds. Obese dogs are also at risk because of the increased strain their surpless weight puts on the ligament.
These injuries can vary in severity – many will heal on their own given time, and others will require surgery or other treatment. One relatively new form of treatment is the CCL leg brace (often referred to as a canine ACL brace).
Treating a torn CCL with these braces has a number of benefits:
- They promote accelerated healing of minor CCL injuries
- They help dogs to keep the weight off their injury, preventing exacerbation
- They improve dogs’ mobility while they heal
- They provide a non-invasive alternative to surgery where this isn’t an option
- They are a cost effective way to improve your dog’s overall quality of life
- They help injured dogs to exercise again, keeping weight gain at bay
- They’re versatile enough to double up for other applications, such as wound protection
Can a Dog’s ACL Heal Without Surgery?
Whether or not a CCL injury can repair itself without surgery depends very much on the severity of the damage. In general, smaller dogs, weighing under 30 pounds, are much more likely to make a full recovery without surgical intervention.
If the CCL has only been partly torn, it’s likely to improve, or completely heal, on its own. However, the damage still has the potential to lead to spurs, arthritis, decreased range of motion, and pain. Using a knee brace will help to relieve pressure from the ligament, reducing the risk of these conditions as it heals.
With more severe CCL damage, your veterinarian might recommend surgery. In this instance, a brace could still assist with the post-op recovery process, by easing pressure on the affected area.
Our Top Pick
For us, Labra’s comfortable and versatile leg brace is the best option if your dog’s rear leg could use some stability. Its extra supportive design cradles the leg, providing relief from arthritis and a range of joint injuries, improving your dog’s quality of life and mobility.
The wrap-around brace is available in four different sizes, allowing it to fit practically any dog. It also features four adjustable straps, making it simple to achieve a snug fit. Because the brace is made largely from neoprene, it’s supportive without being abrasive, and dogs will find it comfortable to wear, even for long stretches of time. Overall, this vet approved brace is a great way to help your dog get up and about, no matter what.
- Can a Dog Recover From an ACL Tear Without Getting Surgery? Orthodog
- To brace, or not to brace? Veterinary Medicine