An emerging industry has quietly picked up momentum. Technology and innovation as well as some forward thinking individuals have propelled the idea that animals can benefit from orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) too. People are more in love with their pets than ever before in history and they want to give their loved ones the best care possible. 20 years ago if an animal broke a leg or required surgical intervention they would be “put down”. Today we are able to utilize the same materials and techniques used in human orthotics and prosthetics and put them in place for animals. There are many injuries, ailments, and congenital deformities that can be fixed, supported, and corrected with the use of orthotics and prosthetics. From dog knee braces to animal prosthetics, O&P can help animals live their best lives.
The Benefits of a Dog Knee Brace
The Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) tears are the most common naturally occurring injury in dogs and a custom knee brace can actually help a dog heal without the high cost of surgery. This more conservative measure can also be more beneficial to the animal as it has less down time, is non invasive and costs much less. The cost of a customized dog knee brace (stifle brace) is a few hundred dollars compared to a TPLO surgery at several thousand dollars. The dog is able to heal without the downtime required post surgery and will have a decreased risk for complications. Surgical repair does not guarantee it will be successful, although it is highly likely that surgery will work, it is also highly likely that a custom stifle brace can and will work as well at a fraction of the cost. Custom braces are designed around a mold of the dogs leg creating a unique one of a kind device. Over the counter braces do not have the same level of support in the right places to heal a CCL injury. They provide only minor support and the need to minimize the drawer motion so the ligament will heal is essential and something a soft over the counter brace can’t provide. Larger animals can also benefit from braces. Horses, mules and donkeys can be born with hyperextension at the carpus and fetlock issues creating an unusual gait which can be debilitating. In decades gone by this would have meant they would have been euthanized. Today a variety of braces can be made to correct these type of issues. Other large animals that have benefitted from various orthotic braces are cows, llamas, goats, pigs, and even elephants.
The Future of Animal Mobility Care
Animal prosthetics are making a big splash all over the interment from doggy wheelchairs to horse and goat prosthetics. Mobilizing an animal can bring them back to life both physically and mentally. Animals adapt very well to their surroundings and environments and when they are given the right tools to help them get moving they will understand how it helps them. With the use of prosthetics animals can learn to walk and run again. Often times with just a little practice and patience an animal can and will thrive. Many large and small animals have been successfully fit with prosthetics and the number of video posts of these special pets are easily seen on all forms of social media. With great partnerships between animal O&P companies, veterinarians, animal rehab hospitals and animal sanctuaries, special needs animals no longer need to be “put down” and can live a full happy life with a little help from the humans who love them.