For many of us, winter brings cold weather, icy storms, lots of snow and concern about dogs using the braces in the snow. No worries. The braces are completely waterproof and unaffected by winter’s nasty grip. However, there are a few simple tips to follow to keep your dog happy while wearing their brace during the inclement winter.
Braces should always be checked when your dog comes inside from the snow and ice. Knee braces for ACL/CCL injuries, also called stifle braces, are easy to check. Since the brace is relatively open, the snow usually falls out easily, but it is still a good idea to remove the brace and make sure there is no snow packed between the brace and your dog’s leg. Be sure to look on the inside, where the brace attaches to the suspension sleeve (the piece that velcro’s to the very bottom of the brace). Snow can get stuck between the brace and the suspension sleeve. If you see any snow, shake it out, dry the brace with a towel, dry your dog’s leg, then powder the brace and put it back on your dog.
With hock and carpal braces, it is critical that braces be checked when the dog comes inside. Because of the foot pad running under the dog’s paw, it is easy for snow to get packed between the foot pad and paw, which can be quite unpleasant for your dog. As with the knee brace, take the brace off and remove any snow. Be sure to check your dog’s paw to make sure that there is no snow caked between their pads. If so, remove that packed snow, too. Then dry the brace with a towel, dry your dog’s leg, powder the brace, and put it back on your dog’s leg.
If your dog has recently been weaned off their knee brace because they have completed the nine-month wearing period and is healed, it would be a good idea to put the brace back on when they are outside in the ice and snow. Snow and ice are one of the main contributors to dogs injuring their cruciate ligaments in the first place and you do not want your newly healed pet to re-injure that leg.
Most dogs love frolicking in the snow and we like to see our dogs enjoying life. Taking a few moments to check the brace when your dog comes indoors will go a long way toward keeping your dog comfortable and helping them to live a happier life while healing from their orthopedic injury.