As veterinary care for pets continues to advance, one of the amazing ways dog owners can help their dogs heal or regain mobility is with the use of orthopedics. Sometimes it looks like the making of a bionic dog, especially when a pet in pain or without a limb can suddenly walk or even run again! There have been tremendous strides made (excuse the pun) in both surgery and prosthetics and orthopedics for pets in the past decade. One company at the forefront is Animal Orthocare. We had the chance to speak to Derrick Campana, who founded Animal Orthocare in June of 2005 and is the company’s current president, as well as being a certified Orthotist/Prosthetist. Here’s what he had to say!
What inspired you to starting helping other animals in addition to humans?
In 2004, A veterinarian came to the office I was working at (Hanger Orthopedic Group in Bethesda, MD) with her dog named Charles. He had a congenital deformity and was in need of a prosthesis. I built the device and the veterinarian said that there is a very high need for these services, but no one does this. At the time only one other company had been established about 6 months before I started Animal Orthocare in 2005.
Which is your most popular product?
Approximately 85% of our business is fabricating stifle braces (ACL knee braces for animals). CCL ruptures are the most common injury that we see and help via the use of our custom knee (stifle) braces. From there, we se a lot of prosthetics, then hock braces for Achilles injuries and carpal braces for carpal hyperextension.
Aside from the information you provide in your website’s FAQ, are there other questions or concerns from vets or pet owners that you are asked frequently?
Probably the biggest misconception is the price of our products. Most people think that only rich people can afford a brace or prosthesis, but in reality they are much less expensive than surgery and can save thousands in the long run. Braces can be worn and surgery can be avoided on a lot of cases I see.
Is there any advice you have for pet owners who are trying to decide between surgery and a brace?
Speak to your veterinarian about options other than surgery. There are more and more open minded vets that see good results from bracing, etc. but there are still a lot that are stuck in their ways and believe surgery is the only option. I would try a brace for certain diagnoses and see if the limb can heal. If not, surgery is always there as an option and the brace can be worn post-operatively instead of splints that can cause irritation and cost money every week during bandage changes. These weekly bandage changes can cost more than the brace itself and with the brace you can monitor wounds every day because you are able to take it on and off.
Are there cases where you would not (or did not) recommend trying a brace or prosthetic?
We can only make prosthetics for animals that have most of their limb remaining. We get calls everyday asking why we cannot make a prosthesis for shorter limbed patients and the reasons are 1) we cannot suspend a prosthesis from a short residual limb 2) The animal would not have control over a prosthesis and end up hurting themselves if the residual limb is too short).
I would not always recommend a brace for a completely ruptured CCL since the leg does not repair itself most of the time with this diagnosis , but we sometimes brace the contralateral limb as a preventative measure as a lot of the time the CCL on the other limb can tear.
Have you heard any stories where a rescue or shelter purchased one of your products, which helped the pet get adopted?
Rescue organizations contact us all the time and use our braces. We give very good discounts to rescue leagues.
Do you have any other inspiring success stories about individual pets who’ve benefitted from your products?
Google “Hudson the railroad puppy”. (We did and found this heart-wrenching story with a very happy ending on the Daily News here.)
Anything else you’d like to share with our audience of potential adopters, pet owners, animal welfare advocates, shelter and rescue staff and volunteers?
I believe this is a great option for a lot of dogs/dog owners. Don’t let veterinarians corner you into surgery without researching options.
Thank you for your time! For more information about Animal Orthocare products, visit www.animalorthocare.com