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Prosthetic limbs assist dogs that undergo amputations or suffer from birth defects, but they also make these animals more comfortable and live longer. Thanks to 3-D printing technology, the idea of custom, easy-to-make limbs might take off in the next few years.
Prosthetics help prevent tissue breakdown in dogs that have lost limbs, and it may also prevent joint wear on the remaining limbs. Although dogs may recover the loss of one limb, tissues eventually break down even after the animal adjusts. Thanks to special plastics and cushioning materials that are cost-effective, 3-D printed limbs are becoming more affordable for dog owners where artificial limbs were novelty items in the past.
Limits on Materials
Although new technology lets prosthesis companies make limbs faster, there may be a dip in quality. Some materials that go through 3-D printers are more lightweight compared to traditional manufacturing techniques. Not all veterinarians may consider prosthetics as a viable form of treatment, and many vets may not know the best way to achieve the best design. The difference lies between the training of veterinarians and manufacturers. Veterinarians know how to treat a dog’s body as opposed to knowing the mechanics of a piece of molded metal, while a manufacturer knows the structural integrity of a length of molded plastic but not how a dog’s leg works.
Dog owners have alternatives to prosthetics designed in a factory. One intrepid dog owner printed a two-wheeled wheelchair for his dog after taking precise measurements around the area of the front legs. The wheelchair straps around the back of the dog and connects to the cart so the animal has mobility despite not having both front legs. Not all veterinarians may recommend a do-it-yourself approach, but there’s no doubt 3-D printing can allow pet owners to make their own devices for dogs to use.Many dogs have long, healthy lives thanks to prosthetic limbs. If your dog has mobility issues, talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of prosthetics. Watch how these custom-made wheels turned Daisy into a walking machine.