The Difference Between a Custom Leg Brace & a Splint

Trying to decide on the best splint for your pet can be intimidating at first. There are many commercial or pre-made options and custom braces. Figuring out which one is best for your dog can be difficult, but understanding the benefits of each one can help you determine what works best for your pet. Regardless of whether the problem on your pet’s leg is high or low, or whether the condition is acute or chronic. By considering the factors of your dog’s requirements and needs, make sure you choose the right type of leg brace and support for your pet.

Off the shelf splints for dogs

small to medium sized dog in a front leg brace by Walkin' Pets

While some pets require a custom-made brace or splint, many pets require a quick fix to stabilize an injured leg. Ready-made or off-the-shelf splints provide a quick and easy way to brace a dog’s leg without delay. An off-the-shelf solution is an ideal leg support solution for a dog or cat with an acute injury that will heal within two to three months.

There are different types of pre-made dog splints; Each style is designed to support a different part of a dog’s leg:

  • Rear Splint – Rear leg and paw support
  • Hock Splint – Support for the tarsal or hock joint on the lower hind leg
  • Front Splint – Front leg and paw support
  • Carpal Splint – Support for the carpal joint and lower front thigh
  • Bootie Splint – Paw, toe and ankle support

When is a prefab splint the best option?

A pre-made splint is the best solution for dogs with sudden injuries who need immediate leg support while they heal. Other uses for a commercial dog splint include:

  • Temporary joint support while the dog awaits a custom brace or brace.
  • The dog has an acute problem or one that is not serious and has caused a deformity.
  • Provides stability and correct paw placement for pets with neurological disorders.
  • Protect paw from grinding or knuckles when pet is walking.
  • Immediate relief to support a sprain or broken toe.
  • Limit mobility of the injured area while still providing assistance with support.

A wide variety of pre-made splints can support a front or rear paw, and some can work for both. These usually don’t have a right or left as they are primarily designed to reach the ankle or carpal joint or slightly above to provide support above and below the joint for stability. These prefabricated splints are not only delivered quickly, but are also cheaper than a custom-made dog orthosis.

The advantages of an adjustable splint for dogs

Every pet is unique, as is the way they are built. An adjustable splint bridges the gap between commercial splints and custom greaves. With an adjustable width and angle, the size of the brace can be controlled for an overall better fit. The adjustable splints are great for pets with lower front or hind leg injuries as they fit any leg.

When is an adjustable splint the best option?

Brutus is seated in a Walkin' Pets adjustable splint for a dog's hind leg

An adjustable splint provides leg support for pets that need an instant solution to support their leg and require a more personalized fit. Other uses for an adjustable greave include:

  • An injured leg that is severely swollen, the width of the splint can be adjusted as the swelling decreases.
  • Temporary leg brace while the dog waits for a custom brace to be fitted.
  • Additional bracing over a wrapped or bandaged leg.
  • Pets with a deep bend in the leg that will not fit comfortably in a commercial splint.

The adjustable splint easily accommodates a wide range of pets of all sizes with a few minor adjustments. This type of leg brace offers a more customized fit without the added expense of a fully customized leg brace. To get the support and angle they need. Adjustable rails are great for larger pets that weigh slightly more than pets that would normally fit in the standard rails and pets with an unusual angle to their legs or paws. The angle adjustability helps convert this splint from a back splint to a front splint or allow a dog to heal with just one splint without getting multiple pre-set splints as he recovers.

Understanding a custom leg brace or dog brace

Custom dog leg brace for elbows

While pre-made splints and adjustable splints have their advantages, a custom-made orthosis or brace offers pets the best leg support with the best fit. Although a more expensive option, a custom leg brace is made with your pet’s diagnosis in mind and provides the perfect fit.

A dog brace is ideal for a pet that needs constant support over an extended period of time or even permanently. While pre-made rigid lower leg splints are on the market, there are fewer options for those seeking support higher up the leg. Knee and elbow braces can be more difficult to fit if they are not precisely fitted to the dog wearing them.

Orthotics for dogs come in a variety of styles designed to support specific joints. Some of the most common dog orthotics are:

  • Knee Brace, ACL/CCL Brace or Knee Brace for Dogs – Supports the knee joint on the hind leg.
  • Elbow Brace – Provides front leg support high on the leg and at the elbow.
  • Carpal Support – supports the lower front leg, carpal joint, wrist and under the front paw.
  • Hock Brace or Tarsal Brace – Provides support for the lower hind leg and supports the hock or tarsal joint, ankle and under the hind paw.

When to choose a customized orthosis for your dog

Custom orthosis or canine knee brace

A custom leg brace is required for any dog ​​with chronic joint disease or serious injury. Custom made dog braces are designed to fit your pet and provide long-term leg support. Durability is just one of the many benefits of a dog brace.

These braces last longer so there is no need to replace them. A custom orthotic brace is more expensive than its ready-made counterpart, but it is durable and made for the perfect fit.

Custom dog orthotics are ideal for pets who:

  • Do you suffer from a chronic joint disease or injury with a long recovery time?
  • Need a leg brace that fits the condition or anatomical needs of the individual pet
  • Those who have a serious injury that needs to be stabilized for an extended period of time
  • Are not candidates for surgery or need an alternative to surgery
  • Need joint support either before or after surgery

Custom braces can in many cases be more comfortable for a pet to wear. The orthosis is created based on an impression of your dog’s limb. This means that the orthosis adapts perfectly to its unique shape and the risk of rubbing or chafing is eliminated.


Fortunately, there is now a wide variety of braces and splints to choose from. This way you can find the perfect match for your dog based on the injury and your budget. There are many resources available from your veterinarian to customer service that can help ensure you get the most accurate size for your pet from the start! Whether your dog needs a pre-made splint, a custom splint, or an adjustable splint, there are ways to find the perfect fit and support for your dog and your budget. If you are unsure which is best for your dog, always consult your veterinarian or rehab specialist for recommendations.

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