Image courtesy of El Valle Encantado. There aren’t many companies that produce orthopedic material specifically for animals, but the demand is increasing. The animal sanctuary El Hogar ProVegan works with an American company called Animal Orthocare, which makes prosthetics for all species and is developing universal gadgets for dogs (think of elbow pads and knee pads) that work for any dog leg—no molds necessary.
Animal Orthocare’s founder, Derrick Campana, tells us that they principally use thermoplastics for their prosthetics, because it’s easily molded when it’s heated. Personalized animal prosthetics usually go at about $1,250 “unless you’re a nonprofit organization.”
Image courtesy of El Hogar ProVegan. Campana is especially proud of the unique design of the new prosthesis made for Felix, a ram rescued by El Hogar ProVegan. Founder Elena Tova explains that Felix is lifted up onto a special gadget every morning, designed to “massage his knees and activate them after his night’s sleep. When he’s on there, we can see if he’s chafed anywhere and easily put on the artificial legs that allow him to walk around and join his family,” Tova says. Felix, as you can tell, is luckier than most disabled rams.
The field of orthopedics for animals is quickly evolving thanks to “technology taken from other fields such as aeronautics, the automotive industry, or the medical field,” explains Campana. He does add that 3D printing still has a really long way to go, and that osseointegration will be a vital part of helping disabled animals in the next few years. It will take a while, but step by step, more options are open to disabled animals, thanks to a combination of orthopedics, bionics, and ethics.