Conservative Management with Brace for Full Cruciate Tear – Zep

About a month ago my dog Zep began mildly limping. I took him to my vet. and he prescribed an anti-inflammatory and rest. Zep seemed to improve and then all of a sudden he wouldn’t put his right leg down for anything and had a horrible time getting around and going outside.

I started to rest him again but it did not help. I returned to the vet. and they sedated him and did a drawer test. Both vets at the practice agreed that there was no question Zep had a full ACL tear. My vet diagnosed him as having a full tear of the Cruciate ligament in his right knee. My vet suggested rest or surgery.

While waiting to see if Zep would improve I researched all the surgical procedures and their various success rates. None of the surgeries which I researched showed anything better than a 50/50 chance of a good recovery.

I decided to opt for the A Trac Dynamic Brace because of all the the success stories and this brace seemed to make the most sense when compared to the others. None of the surgeries which I researched showed anything better than a 50/50 chance of good recovery, so the brace seemed to be a good conservative treatment.

From the moment I put the brace on Zep he began to put more weight on his right leg. After 3 weeks he is putting full weight on the leg and even has started to use the right leg when he urinates.

Although I had my doubts because of the severity of Zep’s injury. It has performed beautifully!! WoundWear has created an outstanding product, and has helped me along with excellent technical support when I needed it. It seems to me Conservative Management is the sensible first step for most injuries. The A-Trac Brace is a no brainer. Thank you WoundWear for helping Zep. I now have my best friend back.

I took video of Zep’s process to see if the brace would actually work. Well, it did! I sent it to WoundWear and they put it online!

19 thoughts on “Conservative Management with Brace for Full Cruciate Tear – Zep

  1. Thanks for posting this! I just started using the a-trac brace from woundwear for my dog sassy. Its been a little tricky to get her used to it but it I think its working. Seeing that video makes me feel good. I was told any type of CM takes time and effort. Thanks Ed!


  2. How much did you pay for the brace?
    Is it a hassle to put on/take off?
    Any problem fitting your doggie to the brace?
    I heard it has straps all over the place and isn`t really a custom fit
    since no x-rays are required,is that right?

    My pal is a Shep/Rottie cross.120 lb.3 yo.

    Tx alot for sharing!


  3. Otis/Gus

    I paid about $350 including shipping but it depends on size. There is a learning curve to application and adjustment but once I got it after a couple of applications it was no problem. I personally did not have any problem with fitting the brace. There are a bunch of sizes that fit most dogs and each size is adjustable. They are not custom in that they are made for your specific dog but if you take the time to measure correctly and call WoundWear with the measurements they will review them and get the best size for your dog. I was told by Dr. Spatt at WoundWear that you can get an x-ray and measure it but after selling 6000 braces they have developed a correlation between the Whithers and Tibia which is very accurate for most dogs and the extra expense of getting an x-ray is usually not necessary. No medical treatment is 100% successful but for my dollar this brace was worth every Penny!

    Ed K.

  4. Did you leave the brace on Zep constantly while he was healing? At what point did you ween him off…if at all?
    My pit bull was just diagnosed with a crucial tear, and they are INSISTING on surgery, but if she can fully heal without the surgery, I would rather not. She has a history of problems with anesthesia.
    Thanks for the post!!

  5. Sara, I had the brace on Zep about 85% of the time. After awhile he got really use to it when he knew it was helping him and gave him better use of his leg. I had him on it for 3.5 months. From my research – remember all dogs are different. I would assume for a Pitbull you may need to keep it on longer. Hope everything goes well!

    Ed K.

  6. Hi Ed,

    Thanks for posting your experience.

    What is Zep’s age? Can you tell me the timeline of when he started limping, when you got the brace, and then how he currently is? I guess like many dog owners out there we, too, were told (yesterday) that our dog Hannah has an ACL tear. Going to a second vet this Monday for a second opinion. Also like many owners, I am seeking an alternative to surgery, not entirely based on cost, but mostly because of the trauma, recovery time and mixed success rates (and rates of it happening to the other leg). Hannah is 2 1/2 and a fetchaholic! She goes to the park every day to play fetch and run. It’s absolutely her passion and I just want her to recover and be able to play again as soon as practical.

    Courtney N.

  7. Glad Zep did so well with conservative treatment for his ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament. I’m curious where you found the 50% success rate for cruciate ligament surgery. We do cruciate surgery all the time and we expect at least an 80% success rate for complex cases (like large, obese dogs where owners have delayed surgery) to 95% for uncomplicated cases (Small to medium size dogs with acute tears).
    By success, I mean return to good weight bearing – generally by 3-8 weeks. Its common with either surgery or conservative management that the dogs have a reduced range of motion and develop arthritis earlier than normal in that join.

    As you mention the second leg often goes.

    Weight control and sensible excercise are critical to reduce the change of reinjury.

  8. I should add that strict confinement, physio and other aftercare are required after surgery and a graduated exercise program extends well beyond the 3-8 week point – this is when most dogs are starting to use the leg comfortably.
    Also, these success rates are typical for most surgeons – I just haven’t heard of anyone experiencing a 50% success rate – they’d be looking for a new treatment it they did!

  9. Dallas,

    I did much research online – one could argue that online info is “bad” but I was very happy to see and hear others experiences. I am glad to hear your office has a higher success rate! maybe you know the secret! haha


    Ed K.

  10. We have two pups in our family, a witted Westie (20lbs) and kind Lab/Shepard mix (95lbs). 1 ½ years ago our Westie had a CCL tear and we opted for the $3,500 surgery. After two infections and a surgery to remove the TPLO repair (additional $500) we swore that we’d be more conservative next time. Now, my mix has a CCL tear…. What to do.

    We love our vet and he agreed surgery is the best option but, not the only. He recommended medication and brace therapy ( for the repair if we were set against the surgery. So torn, just can’t image another pup suffering for the months we had to bare last year.

    We’re going to try this custom brace and hope for the best. Thanks for everyones input and as a side note our Westie is all healed up and now only walks with a light limp. So, I’d say the end state is the the surgery worked but, the lengthy and painful process had a huge imprint on our family.

    1. Did you have any luck with the brace? I just found out my dog has CCL tear and I am trying to find options.

      1. No, did not work for us. Would not stay on and ended up letting it heal on it’s own. He ended up passing a year later due to an unrelated infection that we fought for months.

        The Westie also tore her other knee and we just put her on anti-inflammatories for a few weeks and added a joint vit to her daily feedings. Now she is just fine. No brace, no surgry – just TLC.

          1. We did not, but it was recommended. Just no location that would work for us. We used GNC Pets Hip and Joint Health

  11. Yes! The brace worked very well. After seeing how the surgery worked, we did not want our girl to go through that sort of recovery. The brace worked almost immediately for her to have better mobility. To this day, we still put the brace on every once in a while when we see that she’s having problems moving around.

    1. That’s great to hear it worked for you. It is hard to decide what to do. The brace worked for some and for others not at all. I am worried that I will spend the money and then it won’t work. The ones I have looked at are about $900 – very difficult for us on our budget. What brace did you get?

  12. It was a custom brace. We had it made at Scope in San Diego. If I remember correctly, it cost us about the same…around $900.

    Also, for inflammation/ pain, we use Yucca Schidigera. We give it to her with every meal…even years after her knee has healed. She will always have a limp, but we can tell she’s not in pain and that’s all that matters.

    BTW, I think the surgery quote we got from the vet was around $6,000…so it doesn’t compare to the cost of the brace.

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