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A canine brace stabilizes a dog’s hips while supporting the hip joint. The neoprene panels of the hip brace wrap snuggly around the upper hind leg to provide compression around the pet’s joint. This compression helps reduce swelling and promote healing.
Since the hip support wraps over the dog’s lower back, it makes it easier for a dog to walk pain-free. A hip brace is ideal for a pet dealing with early stage to moderate hip dysplasia. However, don’t expect to see a difference right away. Be patient. It takes time to see the benefits of your dog wearing a brace. Also, don’t expect a hip brace alone to cure your dog, as a multi-modal approach is ideal for the best results. In addition to providing hip support, regular exercise, joint supplements, and working with a rehabilitation specialist are all highly recommended.
2. Signs your dog needs hip support
A dog that is dealing with joint pain and stiffness, especially in their hips and back legs, will show physical changes in how they move. Simple daily activities like walking or standing up after a nap place a lot of weight on a dog’s hind legs. If that dog is also dealing with joint pain, its movements will likely become slower and also impact the dog’s activity level. Dogs aren’t the only animal that suffers from hip problems. Hip dysplasia also occurs in cats. Felines are experts at hiding hide, and the hip dysplasia signs may be harder to spot.
Symptoms of hip joint pain in dogs include:
“Slowing down” or decreased activity levels
Limited range of motion in the hind legs
Pet struggles to stand up after laying down for an extended period
Dog seems unsure or reluctant to climb the stairs or jump onto furniture
Shows signs of pain while moving
Noticeable change in hind leg strength
Hind leg limping
Muscle atrophy, especially in the thighs
3. Know When Not to Use a Hip Brace
A dog who can not walk or stand without assistance will not benefit from hip support. At this stage of mobility loss, the pet requires more support than a hip brace can offer. Any pet with severe hip dysplasia who can not bear any weight on its back leg will need a dog wheelchair to stay active. If your dog is showing visible changes in their mobility, a hip brace may not offer enough support.
Dogs that are experiencing hind leg weakness and struggling to stand or walk without help require mobility support. Dog wheelchairs are often used to help support dogs with hip dysplasia to help them walk. A mobility cart isn’t just for paralyzed dogs. It’s become quite common for vets and rehab specialists to recommend a dog wheelchair to support hip dysplasia patients and help them stay active.
When choosing the right hip brace for your dog, you need to understand its diagnosis. Then, talk to your veterinarian or rehab specialist and discuss your pet’s treatment plan. There are two styles of hip support available: a neoprene hip support system and a custom hip brace.
The neoprene-style hip wrap is best for dogs with early to mid-stage hip dysplasia. Pets at this stage may be slowing down but are still active. Physical activity, hydrotherapy, and structured exercises are often recommended in conjunction with the brace. These are an off-the-shelf and affordable option that typically ships quickly, so your pet gets the help they need as soon as possible.
A custom hip brace is hand-fabricated from a casted mold of a dog’s hind legs. Each brace is custom-fitted to your pet and should perfectly fit your dog’s hip. The fabrication process takes up to a few weeks, with additional adjustments possible once the brace is received. The hip orthosis is more rigid to provide optimal support for a dog’s hip joint.
5. Hip Brace Alternatives
It’s important to understand the a hip brace is only one option. And quite often only beneficial for dogs in the earliest stages of hip dysplasia. More often than not, when a dog’s mobility is greatly affected by hip dysplasia they will require additional support. Alternative mobility products that can help a dog with hip dysplasia include: a dog wheelchair or a hip support harness. Both of these products are designed to support a dog’s back legs and to help them walk with assistance. A hip support harness is best for quick trips outside or to help a dog up stairs or into a car. To keep a dog active and independent, a dog wheelchair is the best option for hip dysplasia support.