Decision making for a Cruciate Brace after Anterior Cruciate Injury in your Dog

Your dog has sustained an injury to his back leg at his knee joint or Stifle joint that has been diagnosed by your veterinarian as an Anterior or Cranial Cruciate Tear. This injury can be a full tear as well as a partial tear and can involve other structures like the meniscus. The meniscus is a specialized type of cartilage that deepens the knee joint and can be torn or frayed. I believe meniscus tears occurs in most dogs with ACL injuries, however with the exception of severe tears they can scar back down if abnormal movement is prevented at the knee.

You are trying to make a decision if you should treat your dog’s injury with a Cruciate Brace. The basis for your decision can be any or all of the following:

  •       You believe that conservative care should be attempted prior to more radical and risky surgical treatment.
  •       Your dog’s age and or health issues makes your dog a poor risk for surgery.
  •       Surgery is too expensive.
  •       You wish to improve your dog’s chances of success after surgery by using a brace to protect the leg post-operatively.
  •       You don’t wish to put your dog through the pain and long disability and prolonged rehabilitation that surgery requires.
  •       You wish to minimize the risk of a Cruciate injury to the opposite leg that occurs in about 50% of dogs that have undergone Cruciate ligament surgery.

Any of the above reasons are legitimate reasons to use a Cruciate Brace however there should be an understanding of the Brace and questions that should be answered prior to choosing this type of treatment

The following are what should be understood and question that should be answered:

1.     You should understand that no medical treatment is always successful and that the A-TraC Dynamic Brace while having a very high success rate (actually better than surgery when complications are included) is still not 100%. Success with brace treatment is about 90% under ideal circumstances. Dogs will adapt to the brace and bear weight on the affected leg in about 90% of the cases. Of this 90% about 75% to 80% will heal without the need for surgery.

2.     Treating a dog with a brace and a human with a brace are entirely different. The human can manage the brace on their own but the dog requires assistance in applying, adjusting and removing the brace. The dog also has no idea of what is being done to him or why. You can’t explain it to him or tell him how he should react to it. Every dog has a different personality. Some are very trainable some are less. Some are very stubborn some very eager to please, etc. etc. Most dogs deal with the brace in a fairly matter of fact manner and acclimate to it immediately. Some dogs resist and require training with positive reinforcement while an exceptional few perhaps 2 out of 100 will never adjust or adapt.

Based on the above information answer the following questions:

3.     Are you a motivated person that will take the time to devote to the brace?

4.     Do you have the patience and time to deal with the brace ?

5.     Are you persistent and will not give up if your dog gives you a hard time?

Dogs are like two or three year old children. They can in their own way make it seem like the brace is uncomfortable when in reality it just feels strange and at times they act strangely in response. Most dogs adapt within 1 to 3 days, some take several weeks.

6.     Ask yourself this question. If you had a 2.5 year old baby that had a cast for a broken arm and he or she cried or fussed about would you remove the cast and call it quits? It should not be any different if you have a dog that does similar things?

If you understand the above and can answer YES to # 3, 4, 5 and NO to question 6 then you have a good understanding and should consider yourself a candidate for a Cruciate Brace for your dog. Just as good or bad post-operative care can alter the outcome of surgery so to can good or bad brace care alter the potential results of brace treatment.

One last important consideration is that the use of a Cruciate Brace for your dog will not diminish the successful outcome of surgery should that become necessary. However, a failed ACL surgery can certainly diminish or even prevent a positive outcome of conservative care including  bracing if used after a failed Cruciate procedure. Should surgery become necessary the A-TraC Dynamic Brace from WoundWear, Inc. can be used as part of a post-operative rehabilitation regimen and to provide additional protection for the Cruciate surgical procedure resulting in improved outcomes.

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