Canine Rehabilitation Support Devices: Soft Supports and Wraps

Canine rehabilitation support devices such as braces, splints or wraps can go a long way to support your dog’s injured limb or body part after trauma, fracture or surgery.

Canine Rehabilitation Support Devices: Soft Supports and Wraps
Elbow Neoprene Brace: Image Walkabout Harnesses

Soft supports versus orthotics

Specific considerations go into the manufacturing of splints or braces (orthotics) Therapists and professional orthotists design them for specific purposes. These devices can be costly and require casting, adjustments, modification, time, etc. They may be your best option. However, in many cases, you might be able to use soft wrap support instead.

Wraps do not require cast molds. All you need is to submit measurements and a photo &/or video of the dog to order them.

Soft support wraps

Wraps offer great solutions for support of weakened areas and shock absorption of joints, especially with lighter, smaller-framed dogs.

Large dogs can benefit from wraps if they need only mild support during light activities. Wraps can also add extra protection and provide heat to exercising muscles during sports.

Prefabricated wraps

Commercial pet retailers typically manufacture prefabricated wraps. Dog owners can take simple measurements with a ruler or tape measure and order these products directly.

Custom wraps

You can find a specialized vendor who will fabricate custom wraps for your dog.

Custom wraps typically require a veterinarian or therapist to measure and order the product. Wraps are made from specialized fabric and neoprene. They come in light, moderate and heavyweights depending on the amount of support needed. Some have added straps and padding to provide additional support or limit movement.

Examples of wraps I have ordered for patients, with good success

Shoulder and elbow home wrap
Shoulder and elbow home wrap

This is a simple home wrap I used for a traumatic brachial plexus injury. It supports the weakened shoulder and elbow while the nerve regenerated. I used a rolled elastic “Ace” type of bandage.

I did the wrapping in a spiral pattern starting at the wrist and moving upward toward the shoulder, then completed with a full turn around the Boston Terrier’s back as an anchor, and a final turn back down on the limb, and secured with clips.

Custom carpal wraps
Custom carpal wraps

The next case involved the use of Custom Carpal Wraps (wrist and forearm). Pit Bull puppy needed support for weak and unstable joints from congenital Carpus Hyperextension.

I ordered wraps with mild support to protected joints while the puppy developed and received PT for strengthening, and functional electrical stimulation. After about 6 months, the pup gained full strength and no longer walked “flat” on his front paws. The wraps preserved the health of the joints, to prevent future arthritis.

Prefabricated foot drop bootie
Canine Rehabilitation Support Devices:

Here is prefabricated Foot drop bootie. It helped a dog that was hit by a car to recover from a sciatic nerve injury. The bootie helped by supporting weakened rear limb with dragging of the paw.

The bootie not only helped to support the hock and paw but also prevented drag abrasions.  This dog attained partial nerve recovery and continued to use the bootie only for leash walks.  He was able to walk indoors without it.  This particular bootie was fairly inexpensive. But we had to replace it after about 5 months.

Prefabricated neoprene sling with elbow supports
Soft Supports: Prefabricated neoprene sling with elbow supports

A prefabricated neoprene sling with elbow supports helped a stocky, slightly overweight Lab with elbow dysplasia on both sides. 

The sling helped the dog to enjoy outdoor walks during the cold winter months. The neoprene offered warmth, in addition to mechanical shock absorption. This helped the Lab tolerate longer distances comfortably, without limping.

Velcro hock strap
Canine Rehabilitation Support Devices

This photo shows a simple Velcro strap, wrapped around a hock of a Golden Retriever. It supported a ligament that was involved in a stretch injury.

The relevant feature of this wrap is the slanted, diagonal direction of the final turn of the wrap (also called spiral). This spiral pattern of wrapping offers greater support and prevents impending blood circulation.

Custom Dorsi-Flex Assist Wraps

Below are side and front-views of custom Dorsi-Flex Assist Wraps. I used it for the rear limbs of a geriatric Weimaraner with early-stage Degenerative Myelopathy.  Though the dog walked with excessive flexion in the limbs, the wraps allowed him to walk outdoors for brief periods and to relieve himself, without dragging and falling.  Note that the wraps have 2 sections: a bootie for the paw and a cuff for the lower leg joined together with a crisscross Velcro strap to assist in pulling the paw upward.

Canine Rehabilitation Support Devices: Custom Dorsi-Flex Assist Wraps
Custom wrap for torn Achilles Tendon

This final example is of a custom wrap used for a torn Achilles tendon with dropped hock.  The wrap has crisscross Velcro straps on the underside. It assisted in pointing the “toes” down and lifting the heel up. This dog could not have surgery to repair the torn tendon due to financial hardship. The wrap offered a low-cost, effective solution for this small Shi-Tzu.

Canine Soft Supports: Custom wrap for torn Achilles Tendon

Conclusion

There are so many possibilities for dogs and other pets to benefit from soft supportive wraps, whether prefabricated or custom-made.  When choosing what is right for your dog, work with a veterinarian or physical therapist for optimal accuracy and results!

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