Animal rehabilitation specialists are turning to human-like prosthetics for dogs with injuries and/or amputations, enriching the quality of these pets’ lives.
When humans face injury that leaves them unable to walk or requires amputation, prosthetics that will give back mobility and function are options to restore the quality of life.
Dog parents are now turning to the same technology, looking to have their dogs fitted with custom prosthetics like their human counterparts.
Dr. Leilani Alvarez specializes in sports medicine and rehab at the Animal Medical Center in New York and says that she’s seen an explosion of patients looking for prosthetics for their pet in the last decade. She says at least once a month, she fits a dog with an assisted device, and says that the previous schools of thought that claim dogs do great on three legs are not necessarily true. While they can do okay, she says that as they age, they struggle, especially bigger dogs, and having a limb to walk on can sometimes even prevent the need for euthanasia.
Assisted devices for pets take just as much time and technology as do ones for humans. One of the biggest prostheses manufacturers in the country, OrthoPets in Colorado, says that there are about 20 different devices they can make. They use advanced computer scanning and 3D printing to create an exact replica of the dog’s limb.
They don’t just make prosthetics for dogs, either. Believe it or not, they’ve created prosthetics for mice, horses, llamas and peacocks. Go figure!
The devices start around $1500 in addition to the vet care and rehab that is involved, but pet parents say that it’s more than worth it. Pets are family members, and helping them live their longest and healthiest lives is what we want to do to the best of our ability.
Dr. Alvarez says that since we treat our pets as our children, as we learn of things we can do to help them in the same way as we’d help our children, we do so. And this is just one more item in the long list of things humans do for their fur children.