Don’t panic, we can probably repair the brace. However, before we talk about what to do if your dog chews the brace, let’s talk about how to keep your dog from chewing the brace in the first place.
When your dog first gets the brace, there is a break-in period. That means that you start to acclimate your dog to the brace by only having them wear it for a few hours at first, then gradually increase the wearing time by one hour per day until the dog is wearing it full-time. Your dog should never wear the brace while they’re crated or at night when they’re sleeping.
This break-in period has a dual purpose. First, it allows your dog to get used to the brace and their skin to adjust to wearing it. Second, the break-in period is a good time for you to monitor your dog’s behavior during the wearing process. Keep an eye on them during this time. If you see your dog bothering with the brace or trying to chew at it, tell them, “No” or “Leave it.” Your dog needs to learn that the brace is not a toy, and they need to leave it alone.
The break-in period is a good time to use positive reinforcement. Put the brace on your dog, then give them a small treat as a reward. Better yet, after putting the brace on, take your dog for a brief walk. Offer lots of praise and tell them what a good dog they are for wearing the brace. Having your dog associate the brace with fun or treats is a great way to teach them to love their brace.
If your dog chews the brace, the good news is that straps, pads, buckles, and the suspension sleeve are covered under warranty for the first four months. We keep measurements of all the straps and a copy of the suspension sleeve. All you need to do is call us and let us know what your dog chewed and we will either mail the replacement parts to you or have you come in for an appointment.
If your dog chews the brace after the warranty expires, we will still be happy to help you. You can either come in for an appointment and there will be a fee for any parts or you can call us with your credit card information to process the billing and we will mail the items to you.
Chewing may indicate your dog is feeling some discomfort. A few of their hairs may be caught in the Velcro straps or the brace may be rubbing their leg uncomfortably. If you see the start of a sore spot, please contact us right away. Email us pictures of the irritation on your dog’s leg as well as a picture of your dog wearing the brace. Once we know what is causing the irritation, we can fix the problem.
If your dog chews the plastic portion of the brace, that’s more problematic. The brace will need to be sent back to us for repair or you will need to come to us for an appointment. Please do not think your dog can continue to wear the brace when the plastic is chewed, as it may have sharp edges that can cut into your dog’s skin. Believe it or not, in the 10 years we have been in business, we only have had one brace returned to us that was chewed so badly we could not fix it. Keep in mind, though, that if we cannot repair the brace, the only option would be to purchase a new brace.
If your dog is determined to chomp and gnaw, there are several things that you can spray on the brace to help deter chewing. Click here for a list of items.
Surprisingly, it is rare for dogs to chew their brace. Dogs learn very quickly that they feel more comfortable and they’re allowed to do more while wearing the brace. If they do chew the brace or the straps, it is usually during the break-in period as they start to get used to wearing their new device. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dog still will chew the brace. Repairing the brace and keeping it functional is all part of our commitment to helping your dog and their orthopedic injury.