By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative
While dog leg braces are very sturdy and durable, they still require some basic maintenance to keep them in good working order. Just like you would not want to wear a messy, dirty brace, neither does your dog. Following a few simple suggestions will keep the brace clean, looking good, and functioning at its best.
It is a good idea to check the brace at least weekly. Check the straps and pads for wear and tear. On stifle braces, check the straps of the suspension sleeve to make sure they are not showing signs of wear, especially at the ends of the straps where you grab them to remove the suspension sleeve. Normal wear will cause traps to fray, but they are still functional – simply trim the frayed threads with scissors.
If you notice straps or pads beginning to tear, please contact us so that new ones can be sent out to you. Under the warranty, straps and pads are covered for the first ninety days that you have the brace. After the ninety-day period, there is a minimal charge to replace these items.
Be sure to check for chew marks on the straps, too. If you see chew marks, try spraying the brace with a chew repellent made for pets. You don’t want your dog to get into the habit of gnawing on the straps.
The hook on the Velcro straps easily attracts hair and dirt. You can use a wire brush to brush in one direction to remove any debris and keep the Velcro sticky.
Dogs naturally seem to gravitate to smelly, messy situations. Obviously, if your dog has gotten into a messy situation – playing in mud or getting into something we just don’t want to mention – clean the brace as soon as you make this discovery. The brace is easily cleaned with antibacterial soap and a washcloth. If the brace is super dirty, it can be cleaned with a non-toxic cleaner and rinsed with water. Dry the straps with a dry cloth. Remember, the braces are completely waterproof so that makes cleaning easy.
Hock and carpal braces require a little extra attention. Because these braces extend under the dog’s paw and are always hitting the ground, they naturally get dirtier than other braces.
Each day when you remove the brace, look to be sure nothing is caught on the footpad of the brace. It is easy for sticks or tiny stones to get caught between the paw and the footpad. (Think flip-flops in the summertime and getting gravel between your foot and the flip-flop. You know how uncomfortable that can be!) During the winter snows, it is especially important to remove the brace when your dog comes inside. Check for any snow that may have gotten trapped between the paw and footpad.
Just as the soles of your shoes need to be replaced periodically, so do the soles of hock and carpal braces. How quickly a dog wears down the sole depends on a lot of factors and there is no way we can predict how soon the sole will need to be replaced. Walking on grass as opposed to asphalt or rocks will extend the life of the sole.
Check the sole regularly to see how it is wearing. It is important to not let the sole wear down so far that the plastic is exposed. You can always return the brace to us to have it resolved or, if you have a good shoemaker in your area, feel free to contact them about resolving the brace.
A clean, well-maintained brace is a pleasure for your dog to wear and for you to handle. Spending a few extra minutes weekly to ensure the brace is in good working order is time well spent for you, your dog, and the life of the brace. Remember, if you have any problems, we are just a phone call or email away and are here to help both you and your dog.