Objective: To determine whether carpal brace application is a viable treatment for dogs with unilateral carpal ligament instability.
Design: Retrospective case series.
Animals: 14 client-owned athletic dogs.
Procedures: Medical records were reviewed to identify dogs treated with a brace for unilateral carpal valgus or varus instability between August 2008 and August 2011. Treatment included passive motion and isometric strengthening exercises during brace application.
Results: Of the 14 dogs, 11 were considered to have returned to normal function; 11 of 12 dogs returned to agility competition. Carpal measurements before treatment indicated the affected limb had significantly greater valgus measurements (median, 30°; range, 30° to 35°), significantly greater varus measurements (median, 15°; range, 15° to 25°), and significantly less flexion (median, 37.5°; range, 30° to 45°), compared with results for the contralateral carpus. Long-term monitoring revealed no differences in measurements between affected and contralateral limbs. Valgus measurements of the affected carpus at brace removal (median, 15°; range, 15° to 20°) and at the end of long-term monitoring (median, 15°; range, 15° to 20°) were significantly lower than measurements before treatment (median, 30°; range, 30° to 35°). Dogs had significantly lower lameness scores (assessed on a scale of 0 to 5) at brace removal (median, 0; range, 0) and at the end of monitoring (median, 0; range, 0 to 2), compared with scores before treatment (median, 3; range, 1 to 3).
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Application of a carpal brace resulted in improved stability and resolution or reduction in lameness in dogs with carpal ligament instability.