Clayton Blunk

Clayton Blunk

Clinical Practitioner

Am I done with this thing yet? —Weaning your dog from your My Pet’s Brace Knee Brace 1Clayton here, your friendly, helpful Dog-Brace expert and My Pet’s Brace Practitioner. Whether you have had your brace for an hour or 6 months, you will likely wonder when it is appropriate to no longer use the brace. I know it is an exciting prospect to think about.

There are a few questions you should ask of yourself and other family members who are involved in the daily care of your pet:

  • How long has your dog had his/her brace?
    1. We recommend wearing the brace for 9 months.
      1. If your dog had to take a break from the brace because of a sore, or your dog was at a kennel where the brace was not used, add a few more weeks.
    2. Do you notice any limp? If yes, continue using the brace.
      1. It sometimes is hard to remember how lame your dog was when they first got the brace. With the brace off, do you see any limping? What about a neighbor? Would someone who does not see your dog every day notice a limp?
      2. Does your vet still notice a limp/lameness or atrophy?
    3. Is your dog’s quality of life back to “normal”?
      1. Do you and your dog do the same activities with the brace as before the brace?
        1. If there are things your dog still can not do, are you okay with those limitations? Is your dog still trying to do those things?
          1. If you feel there are limitations your dog still has, keep using the brace.
        2. Does the brace give you and your dog peace of mind/insurance?
        3. Was your dog “depressed” when the injury first occurred?
          1. Did the brace make your dog happy? Does it still make your dog happy?

Hopefully, some of the above questions can help you and your vet make an educated decision on the right time to start taking the brace off. If you recall when you first got your brace, you started by slowly increasing the time your dog was in the brace by an hour a day. If it is time to start weaning your dog off the brace, the most basic plan would be to reverse the break-in process by putting the brace on less each day over a few weeks.

A more detailed plan would be as follows:

Start with taking the brace off when your dog is inside and quieter, so maybe take it off a little earlier in the evening. Once you are just using the brace for outside activity, give your dog time to adjust to this new routine for a few weeks.

Am I done with this thing yet? —Weaning your dog from your My Pet’s Brace Knee Brace 2

Here is a hypothetical next step in the plan. Let’s say you are active dog owners and take your dog for 3 walks a day. I would start taking the brace off for your middle walk and still use the brace for the first and last walk of the day. The first walk of the day it is still important to use the brace because your dog has been cooped up overnight and likely has more energy. We do not want a little extra excitement to cause your dog to have some trouble. On the last walk of the day, your dog is probably starting to get some muscle fatigue, so we don’t want fatigue to case extra lameness by not using the brace. After that, just put the brace on for your longest walk of the day. Eventually, you can leave the brace off entirely after a few more weeks.

After the 9 month wearing period, the brace can always be there “just in case.” You can always put the brace back on if your dog is going to be in a situation where they are abnormally active, such as playing with other dogs, going for a long walk, or being in snowy/icy locations. Some senior dogs may wear the brace during their more active hours for the rest of their life, just for some extra support.  As much as you wish you could put your brace away in a deep dark corner of your hall closet, it might be worth keeping it in with your other dog supplies.

Hopefully, this short article helps you develop a plan for how to know when and how to wean your dog from their brace. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us, or you can always give your vet a call for some advice.