By: Terry Lackmeyer, My Pet’s Brace Customer Service Representative
Many clients are surprised to discover that all our dog braces are made locally in our Morgantown, Pennsylvania facility. This provides us with complete control over the manufacturing and the quality of the braces that go out our doors. It also means that if a brace is returned to us for a repair, we usually can make that repair the very same day we receive the brace and get it back out to you. So how do we create that brace that is going to give your dog a happier life?
The process starts with a cast of your dog’s leg. Obtaining a well molded cast is especially important since the cast forms the foundation for the brace. Just as a well-built house depends on a good foundation, a well-fitting brace starts with a good cast. The cast can be taken by us, at one of our two clinics in Pennsylvania or by your local veterinarian. If your local vet is taking the cast, we recommend they watch the casting video on our website as it gives several tips on how to make an appropriate cast.
Once we have the cast, it is filled with plaster to create an impression of your dog’s leg. After the plaster cures, our technicians modify the cast to create a replica of your dog’s leg. It is during the modification process that we incorporate the bumps and nuances of your dog’s leg so that the finished brace will be comfortable and not cause any discomfort to the dog.
From there, the plaster cast is moved to the molding department where the brace is built from the inside out. Cushioning foam is placed over the plaster mold. This will add padding to the brace and make it more comfortable for the dog to wear. And, because it is a closed-cell foam, it will not absorb moisture or bacteria. Next, joints that allow motion if required are placed on the mold and finally, co-polypropylene, a medical-grade plastic, is heated to make it pliable then vacuumed sealed around the cast. The excess plastic is removed from the mold and the brace is cut from the plaster cast.
Now the brace is off to be machined. All edges are carefully sanded to create a smooth edge. Great care is taken during the machining process to be sure all edges are smoothed and rounded as any rough edges could cause irritation to the dog’s leg.
From machining, the brace moves to finishing. There straps and buckles are added to the brace. If it is a carpal or hock brace, padding is added to provide cushioning under the paw and heavy tread is glued to the bottom to create the sole of the brace. At this point, we also make the suspension sleeve and any pads that are needed. The sewing machine hums, the screws are tightened, the glue cures, and the brace is finally finished. Well, almost…
The final step before the brace leaves the manufacturing department is a quality assurance check. Everything from the brace color, to the screws and buckles, to the strap sizes, and general overall appearance of the brace is thoroughly checked to make sure we are sending out the best product possible. Only after the brace passes a rigorous inspection check and is signed off does it leave the department to proceed on the final leg of its journey where it is shipped to the client’s home or veterinarian clinic.