Orthopedics for dogs: everything you need to know

k9 dog leash

The orthopedic dog is a specialty veterinary , until recently, relatively expensive elements being very specific and must be tailored. However, in recent years there has been a significant advance in techniques and materials and this has allowed a reduction in costs.

Some diseases , such as hip dysplasia or certain specific hernias, cause a considerable loss of quality of life in our pets. However, thanks to orthopedics for dogs unthinkable results have been achieved long ago. It is now relatively easy to find dogs using wheelchairs or carts. Animals that previously saw their life confined to a small space or, in many cases, were destined to be asleep.

Orthopedics for dogs

The most important thing before considering an orthopedic solution is to have a veterinarian’s report. Each prosthetic solution is uniquely and specifically designed to meet prescribed therapeutic goals. Currently, and depending on the price we are willing to pay, we will find from individually adapted biomechanical prostheses to products made in series.

When looking for a specific prosthesis you should look for a design that reduces pain and provides comfort and support for the dog. And not just one that restores mobility. In addition, you must remember that the prosthesis must be accompanied by physiotherapy sessions for the animal, to achieve a complete recovery or, at least, a good adaptation to its new mechanical limb.

Wheelchairs and trolleys

It is perhaps the best-selling orthopedic product today. When they are used to solve mobility problems in the hind limbs, we are faced with chairs. If the problem is in the front, it will be cars. Although both have many similarities, they also have differences due to their mode of use. We will find two options on the market:

  • Self-adjusting wheelchairs : this is the cheapest option but also the most practical, especially in animals that are still in the growth phase. They can cause some inconveniences by not adapting 100% to our dog but, in turn, it allows greater versatility. And that, when it is a long-term disease, will be beneficial to our pocket. But also for the animal itself, which should not change its seat in the future.
  • Individualized wheelchairs: obviously, each dog is different and we find animals of different sizes and weights. Therefore, when the disease is long-term and the animal has already finished its development and growth phase, it is an interesting solution. By being designed and built specifically for the animal, it can solve any discomfort and facilitate adaptation to the new machine with which it will have to live. But, precisely because it has a unique and exclusive design, its price is much higher than the first option.

Non-rigid clamps

Tears are very common in dogs, which is why it is common to find animals that use non-rigid knee braces or braces. Designed primarily for animals suffering from cranial or anterior cruciate ligament injury, canine knee strains or sprains, limping or fatigued back legs, arthritis, post-operative support and stabilization or when temporary knee immobilization is needed.

These types of injuries require rest, the joint to be immobilized, and even surgery. A good hug offers therapeutic support and stability before and after an operation, but it is also useful in cases where surgery is not necessary. When using it, it reduces pain and inflammation, thus avoiding suffering for our dog.

Rehabilitation harness

The rear rehabilitation harnesses are a good solution for those animals that due to osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia or herniated discs have seen their mobility reduced without losing it completely. The use of the harness provides greater  stability and support as  well as offering a security reinforcement. It is a temporary solution for those animals that for various reasons have seen their leg strength reduced.

By supporting the damaged area, helping it to keep it up, it allows a better recovery of the animal. They are designed to adapt to the dog’s body, as they are designed in an adjustable material using adjustable straps.

Bionic prostheses

Times change, and medical advances are taking place by leaps and bounds. And new technology is also coming to canine orthopedics. Thus we find new materials such as carbon fiber for the manufacture of prostheses, but biomedical advances are also being developed whose results are being very encouraging. The biggest problem with these techniques is the inability of the animal to tell in detail its sensations and problems, so we must adjust to the opinion of the experts.

Although this is a field that has not yet been fully developed, the path is marked. The orthopedics of the future will use lighter and more adaptable materials. The next step, as has already been experienced with other animals, will be the use of biomedical impulses in the marrow to achieve the recovery of mobility of the extremities. But this will entail close collaboration between veterinarians, physical therapists, and neurologists.

Orthopedics and physiotherapy for dogs

Orthopedics for dogs must go hand in hand with physiotherapy. Either to achieve an improvement in the animal or to avoid permanent damage, we should not use orthopedics without following the guidelines set by the specialists. Today it is relatively easy to buy chairs, trolleys and harnesses in any specialized store. But only the veterinarian will be able to correctly indicate the technical specifications that they must have. In this way, we will avoid causing discomfort and even increase the damage that our dog can suffer.

In addition, it is necessary to go to physiotherapy sessions that help the dog to improve its bond with this foreign entity. Dogs are routine animals and for the use of orthotics this must be created from scratch. It is not only necessary to mitigate the physical damages but also the psychological ones.

Divyesh Patel