Posh Dog Knee Brace
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Dog Knee Injury? Brace Yourself:

After knee injury surgery, custom braces can benefit your dog and in certain cases, can take the place of surgery.

It has been ten years since WDJ investigated the nonsurgical treatment of knee ligament problems, or “conservative management” (see “Saying ‘No’ to Surgery,” February 2010). Since then, there has been an increase in consumer demand for alternative therapies, such as the usage of custom-designed knee braces, even though surgery is still by far the most common therapy for knee injuries.

Canine ligament injuries are so common that almost every veterinarian has seen one. A dog may be completely unable to bear weight on the limb, exhibit a noticeable limp, or show signs of hind-leg lameness, depending on the severity of the damage. A partial or complete tear of a ligament could be the injury.

Knee Injury in Dogs? Brace Yourself

Canine Cruciate Ligament Disease

The terms “torn ACLs” and “bad knees” are well-known in the canine community. Knowing what these terms represent will be helpful if your dog sustains a knee injury that needs to be treated by a veterinarian.

The phrase “canine cruciate ligament disease” refers to a number of injuries that can harm a dog’s knee in this article. In general, the phrase uses the word “disease” appropriately because most dog knee ligament ruptures occur during normal exercise, despite the fact that the majority are the result of catastrophic injuries.

Additionally, several studies indicate that the majority of knee ligament injuries are caused by chronic degenerative changes within the ligament, as stated in an article titled “Review of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease in Dogs” that was published in the World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings in 2011.


Ligaments are bands of connective tissue that strengthen and support joints by joining bones to cartilage.

With the patella (kneecap) in front and the fabella (a tiny bean-shaped bone) behind, the stifle (knee) joins the tibia (leg bone) and femur (thigh bone). Ligaments hold everything in place while cartilage (the lateral and medial meniscus) cushions the bones.

Within the knee joint, the cranial (front) and caudal (back) cruciate ligaments cross. The tibia cannot move out of place beneath the femur because of the cranial cruciate ligament. While the words “cranial cruciate ligament” (CCL) and “anterior cruciate ligament” (ACL) are used in veterinary medicine and human medicine, respectively, they relate to the same ligament and are used to characterize knee injuries in dogs.

Despite the fact that radiographs, or x-rays, do not show soft tissue and cannot be utilized to distinguish between a partial and total tear or diagnose cruciate injuries, they are frequently used to screen for cruciate ligament illness. However, they can rule out other illnesses that might be the source of leg discomfort, such as bone cancer. Dogs rarely undergo advanced imaging tests like MRIs because they are costly and necessitate anesthesia, even though they can show tears in the ligaments.

The “drawer test,” which involves a veterinarian holding the femur in one hand while manipulating the tibia in the other, is the primary diagnostic method for CCL rips. Should the tibia be able to be pulled forward, as though opening a drawer, there has been a tear or rupture in the cruciate ligament. nervous patients may be anesthetized prior to the drawer test since it can be inconclusive if the stiff muscles of a nervous dog briefly stabilize the knee.

Another test for ligament damage is the tibial compression test, in which the dog’s ankle is flexed with one hand while the femur is kept steady with the other. The abnormal forward movement of the tibia is caused by a damaged ligament.

According to a recent estimate that has been cited by a number of veterinary websites, over 600,000 dogs in the US undergo cruciate ligament surgery annually.

Canine cruciate ligament disease risk factors include genetics, obesity, poor physical condition, conformation (skeletal shape and structure), age of the ligament (degeneration), and breed, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (acvs.org). Rather than being ruptured due to an acute impact to an otherwise healthy ligament, most ligament ruptures occur as a result of slow, subtle degeneration that has occurred over months or even years. Between 40 and 60 percent of dogs with damage to one cruciate ligament later have damage to the other knee. According to the ACVS, if a partial cruciate ligament rupture is not treated, it is likely to eventually become a full tear.

According to the ACVS, CCL injuries can occur in dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages, although they are most frequently seen in Rottweilers, Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, Akitas, Saint Bernards, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers.

There is a significant correlation between neutering before one year of age and ruptured cruciate ligaments. The study “Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence” (Benjamin Hart, et al.) was published in the journal Frontiers of Veterinary Science on July 7, 2020. It revealed that early neutering of male Bernese Mountain Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, and Miniature Poodles; male and female German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers; as well as female Saint Bernards and Australian Cattle Dogs significantly increased risk of cruciate ligaments.

The study’s conclusion was, “A likely mechanism related to disruption of the closure of the long-bone growth plates by gonadal hormone secretion as the animal approaches maturity is related to early neutering may cause a joint disorder.” According to our theory, neutering a dog well before the growth plates close allows its long bones to grow slightly longer than average. In some cases, this can cause enough joint alignment problems to cause a clinically noticeable joint condition.

Similar findings were observed in mixed breeds, particularly for dogs weighing 44 pounds or more and neutered before one year of age, according to a related study, “Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for Mixed Breed Dogs of Five Weight Categories: Associated Joint Disorders and Cancers” (Frontiers of Veterinary Science, July 31, 2020, Benjamin Hart, et al.).

There is nothing owners can do to reverse a dog’s neuter status, but there are plenty of things we can do to save our vulnerable pets’ knees. Excessive body weight and poor physical condition are risk factors for the development of canine cruciate ligament illness, as stated on the ACVS website. Pet owners have the ability to alter each of these aspects. Maintaining a lean body mass requires careful meal control, regular exercise, and consistent physical conditioning.


Custom braces—which go by numerous names including knee, stifle, ACL, or CCL braces—are made by several manufacturers using various materials and techniques. Braces are also made to fit the hocks, hips, ankles, and wrists of dogs.

In order to assess how strong the brace needs to be in order to support the dog’s weight and activities, as well as any unique features the brace might need, the first step in designing a bespoke brace is to analyze the patient’s size, breed, medical history, activity level, and environment.

Next, casts or detailed measurements create a model of the dog’s knee. The last step is to schedule a fitting visit, where any necessary modifications are performed and images and videos of the dog exercising while wearing the brace are taken.

The dog wears the brace during the day after a break-in period. “Most dogs put it on in the morning and take it off in the evening before bed,” the owner says.


The majority of custom brace designs are based on leg models that were cast at the client’s house or in a veterinary clinic using supplies supplied by the brace maker. For the purpose of designing the brace to fit, the resultant cast is supplied together with supporting measurements. Castings that are damaged during shipment or that were made erroneously may require repeat castings. The visit raises the price of the brace if it is performed at a veterinary facility.

The 77-pound Golden Retriever Pasha, then 11 years old, suffered a left hind leg injury that led to the creation of the Posh Dog Knee Brace seven years ago. Pasha’s veterinarian determined that he had a torn meniscus and a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament. He advised surgery immediately once, stating that if the damage was not repaired, Pasha would suffer a similar lesion to his right leg, develop severe arthritis, and be unable to live an active life again.

Although Jim Morison and Beth Scanlon, who live in Florida, could afford the $5,000 surgery, they were concerned about Pasha’s age and past medical history, which included a bad anesthetic response. Pasha’s recuperation started when they ordered a custom-made knee brace rather than arranging surgery.

Although Morison was pleased with Pasha’s development, he felt that the brace might be made better in a few areas. He started creating modifications and, in the process, established his own knee brace business, which he called Posh after one of Pasha’s pet names. Pasha was swimming at the beach and running through tide pools six months after donning her upgraded brace, and she was fully recovered in nine months.

“We now use a different design, but we started with the type of brace that requires a casting mold,” says Nikki Bickmore, lead veterinary technician at Posh, who also manages the service department and production.

“Posh assembled a group of orthotists and veterinarians to create a new system that would do away with casting,” Bickmore adds. As a result, the brace has many padding layers and is semi-rigid rather than hard plastic, allowing it to adapt to the dog’s muscles as they contract and flex. The only brace that incorporates double-reinforced hinges from the Tamarack brand, positioned on two layers of plastic, to strengthen the brace at important stress locations is ours. The brace fastens with quick-release microbuckles, which are common in expensive snow and water sports gear, and fits without causing any rubbing, irritation, or slippage.

Ordering is sped up and slowed down by using measurements rather than casting to create a replica of the dog’s leg. Most braces come within a week after precise measures are given, but buying takes longer since clients need to watch instructional videos and take measurements with two individuals during a live video conference while a veterinary technician watches over them. A Posh vet tech must supervise the fitting of a brace during a second video chat before it can be worn.

The fact that our braces fit well and are simple to use is what most people appreciate about them, according to Bickman. They appreciate that our solution uses buckles and straps instead of Velcro, which can tangle in a dog’s hair. Because we use a soft shell instead of a hard one, the brace is more pleasant to wear, has greater range of motion, is long-lasting, and is very simple to clean.

Three-year-old Howdy, an Australian Cattle dog, was born with incontinence, spina bifida, and nerve damage in his hind end. Bickman states, “He’s a favorite of the Posh staff.” He was adopted by Alicia McLaughlin at the age of six months. Shortly after, he had a tear to his CCL and also had a luxating patella. Many believed that he ought to be put to death, but thanks to bracing, Alicia, and a lot of love and patience, he is now happily living in the country in New York.


Don’t think that just because your dog starts favoring one leg over the other, the issue will go away. That could be, but it could also be a sign of cruciate ligament damage. To be sure, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Both surgery and brace use need to be carefully considered. The proper usage of the custom-fitted braces discussed here requires time and attention commitments, and they are not cheap. Not every owner or dog is a suitable candidate for bracing. Information collection and a realistic grasp of the issues at hand are essential for making wise judgments.

For more information about our Posh Dog Knee Brace contact us via our contact page or visit our Facebook Page.

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