Torn ACL in Dogs - How Braces Help

Dog kissing girl lying in the grass

Not all dogs can have surgery, but we still want to reduce their pain. Dog braces help your dog walk sooner.

The field of bracing is relatively new to Veterinary medicine, so not all doctors are familiar with how bracing works.

We started designing braces to help these doctors over 15 years ago. After helping thousands of dogs recover, this is what we know....

Poodle wearing a dog knee brace for a torn ACL

What The ACL Does

The ACL is a ligament that connects the bones above and below the knee. This ligament limits the bottom bone (the tibia) from sliding forward underneath the top bone (the femur.) This bad motion is called the cranial drawer.

Veterinarians test to see if the ACL is torn by a cranial drawer test. Your vet pushes forward with their thumb and pulls backward with their fingers as shown by the red arrows.

When the ACL is torn, the cranial drawer happens easily in your dog's knee. It scares and hurts your dog to put weight on the leg when this motion happens.  So they quit using the leg, and over the following weeks, muscles start shrinking from disuse.

Veterinarian testing dog for cranial drawer with arrows demonstrating how a Hero Knee Brace helps a torn ACL
Cranial Drawer - Red Arrows | Brace Support - Green Arrows

Arthritis Forms

If the cranial drawer motion is allowed to continue long term, arthritis forms in the joint. Arthritis can be painful and slow your dog's activities later in life. So it is important to limit this cranial drawer motion as much as possible to slow the formation of arthritis.

A torn ACL is the most common leg injury in dogs. It can be caused by strenuous activity, obesity, age, breed or a combination of all of those factors.

Talk to your veterinarian about a dog brace as a treatment option when your dog tears his ACL. The brace applies the opposite forces (green arrows) to limit the cranial drawer.

The Hero Brace is the only brace that provides support in these two areas with plastic versus trying to support the leg with velcro that will fail when a dog gets it dirty.

Play sooner? Used alone OR to support surgery, a dog knee brace can provide a cost-effective permanent solution for your dog to play again.

Robert Porter shows off his rehab of torn ACL in a Golden Retriever without surgery. Watch below

About Hero Knee Braces for Dogs

With such a high risk of additional injury -- some estimates say that 60 percent of dogs with one ACL tear are likely to tear the other side -- there's no time to waste if your dog has a sudden and significant leg injury. That's why we advise all owners, whether you plan to pursue surgery or not, to devise a plan of action to prevent further injury, minimize arthritis and reduce atrophy of the muscles.

Working with veterinarians on the front lines of treatment, we've seen firsthand how our knee braces for dogs instantaneously provide mobility, confidence and a reduction of pain to suffering dogs of all ages. Just like with a person, an ACL tear is a serious injury, and hoping it'll get better on its own is no way to be a pet parent. But once you see how light, unobtrusive and easy it is to install and remove the Hero knee brace, we're confident that you'll do right by your dog.

Unlike typical straps and convoluted velcro contraptions, the Hero dog knee brace is made from durable co-polymer plastic, which provides the rigidity your dog needs to prevent further injury without weighing them down. Better yet, the Hero brace is great for all kinds of activities, so not only will your dog get back their sense of independence and freedom, but games of fetch, frisbee and even a dip in the pool are all sure to get their tails wagging.

Note that all Hero knee braces are custom fitted and built to last for the life of your dog.
Hero Braces, Veterinary Equipment, Benkelman, NE