Did you know that the technology is available to make custom prosthetic limbs and braces for dogs? A variety of disabilities can now be better managed with the use of these adaptive devices. Partial amputees can benefit from having a prosthetic limb, allowing them the freedom to run and play like a 4-legged animal. Also, dogs with crippling injuries like achilles ligament tears or neurologic deficits to a limb now have the option of an orthotic brace to aid in their mobility.
A unique Colorado based company called Orthopets is pioneering the field of prosthetics and orthotics for animals. As a certified veterinary rehabilitation therapist, Dr. Teresa Hershey is qualified to work with Orthopets to make these adaptive devices. The first step is determining if your pet will be a candidate for a prosthetic or orthotic.
Unfortunately at this time, only partial amputees that have some of the limb beyond an elbow or knee currently qualify for a prosthetic limb. The technology is not there yet to make an adaptive device for dogs that are missing a complete limb, or only have a small portion of a limb remaining. For those dogs that are good candidates for a limb, the process of obtaining this limb involves starting with a custom mold of your pet's leg. Once the mold has been produced, it is sent to the prosthetic manufacturer. After 1-2 weeks, the limb is ready to be fitted on your dog. The most important thing to know is that it takes some time for your pet to adapt to this new device, and as a pet owner you must work closely with your veterinarian to manage skin sores that invariably develop during the first couple of months. Once these initial hurtles are overcome, it is amazing to see a dog run and play without the effort that they once had as a 3-legged dog. After time, the dog starts to see the limb as an extension of themselves.
Orthotic Braces are also an amazing advancement in the world of rehabilitation for dogs. Dogs that have suffered an accident or breakdown of a joint and were previously relegated to a cast or immobilization device now have options to regain more normal movement. The custom Orthopet braces can be made with hinged joints, when indicated, so that maximum movement can be obtained.
If you think your dog may be a candidate for a prosthetic or brace, the first step is to make an appointment with Dr. Teresa Hershey for an assessment. Click Here for more information on rehabilitation products offered at Westgate Pet Clinic.