How To Introduce Your Pet to A Bracing Device

How To Get Your Pet to Tolerate Their Bracing Device and What To Expect During the Initial Adjustment Period.

When humans break bones and need to wear braces, it’s a given that it will be an uncomfortable experience in the beginning, but after bones and muscles start to heal and feel better, the brace becomes an afterthought. Well, the same goes for our cats and dogs in orthopedic bracing devices too.

Whenever you are introducing new products to your pets, such as bracing devices, you should always use patience and positive reinforcement. With patience and positive reinforcement, your pet is able to learn to appreciate their bracing device comfortably. The new brace may feel strange to your pet at first, but over time they will adjust to it. For some pets, it can take up to two weeks before they fully adjust to wearing the brace. For the best results, use high-value treats and praise whenever you are first introducing your pet to the brace.

Step-By-Step Introduction to Bracing Devices

  1. Start by introducing your pet to the brace using a high-value treat as positive reinforcement. This will begin a positive association to the brace. For example, you can hold the brace out to your pet and each time they express interest (sniffing the brace, boop-ing with their nose, showing interest in what you’re holding) in the brace they are rewarded with the treat. Additionally, allow your pet to hear what the Velcro straps will sound like when the brace is being applied or removed.

  2. Once your pet seems comfortable with the brace being nearby and the sound that the Velcro makes while being applied or removed, you can slowly apply the brace to your pet. Once the brace is on, go ahead and provide positive reinforcement again.

  3. Like breaking in a new pair of shoes, the brace should first be worn in short increments at first, increasing daily as your pet adjusts to the brace. It’s recommended that you place the brace on your pet for only half an hour (30 minutes) on the first day. Taking your pet on a short walk is a good way to allow them to adjust to the brace while also providing them with positive reinforcement. If your pet is adjusting well to the brace, you can increase wear time by another half hour every day after that. Your pet may wear the brace for up to 12 hours a day and be removed at night unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian.

What Should I Expect During the Initial Adjustment Period?

During the initial adjustment period, your pet may have an awkward gait or try to avoid using the brace altogether. This is normal and will usually occur on and off for one to two weeks. Bracing devices should not be worn when your pet is unsupervised and communication with your veterinarian regarding bracing is always recommended.