Title:
Ventilated non-slip sleeve and methods for making and using same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Described herein is a ventilated, non-slip sleeve which may be applied to an irregularly shaped object, for example a body part such as a limb or extremity, as well as methods for making and using such a non-slip sleeve. In one particular embodiment, the present invention relates to a ventilated, non-slip sock for an animal, and a method for making the sock from a non-slip material. The ventilated, non-slip sock of the instant invention finds particular utility as a mobility aid for injured and/or aged animals, to facilitate ambulation over slippery surfaces or floors.



Inventors:
Heisler, Nancy (Middletown, CT, US)
Heisler, Gary R. (Middletown, CT, US)
Van Wyk, Robert A. (Largo, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/802124
Publication Date:
11/29/2007
Filing Date:
05/21/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SMITH PATENT (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A ventilated, non-slip mobility sock configured to be slidably received about a limb or extremity of an animal, said sock formed as a continuous, unitary construction from a planar sheet of a flexible, porous material having a high coefficient of friction.

2. The sock of claim 1, wherein said sock is shaped to be slidably received about the forefoot or hindfoot of a dog or a cast disposed thereon.

3. The sock of claim 1, wherein said porous material further provides a cushioning effect.

4. The sock of claim 1, wherein said porous material comprises a water-resistant composite.

5. The sock of claim 4, wherein said water-resistant composite comprise an open-weave fabric coated with a polymeric foam.

6. The sock of claim 5, wherein said open-weave fabric comprises a woven scrim of polyester or natural fibers and the polymeric foam comprises a plasticized vinyl compound.

7. The sock of claim 6, wherein said plasticized vinyl compound comprises polyvinyl chloride.

8. The sock of claim 1, further provided with one or more straps for securing the sock about the limb or extremity of the animal.

9. The sock of claim 8, wherein said straps are provided at either end with mating fastener pairs.

10. A method of forming a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock configured to be slidably received about a limb or extremity of an animal comprising the steps of: (a) providing a flat blank having a predetermined shape cut from a planar sheet of flexible, porous material having a high coefficient of friction; (b) folding said blank in half lengthwise; and (c) bonding the open lateral sides of the blank to form a tubular sleeve having one closed end and one open end.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising the step of providing a dorsal cut extending from the open end of the sleeve but stopping short of the closed end of the sleeve.

12. The method of claim 10, further comprising the step of providing one or more fastening means for securing the sleeve about the limb or extremity of the animal.

13. A ventilated, non-slip mobility sock configured to be releasably attached to a limb or extremity of an animal, said sock from a flat blank cut from a planar sheet of a flexible, stretchable, porous material having a high coefficient of friction and having a generally rectangular shape, comprised of two long sides and two short sides, said flat blank further comprising a first set of tabs extending from the distal end of a first long side and second set of tabs extending from the distal end of the second long side, disposed opposite said first set of tabs, wherein said tabs are provided with mating fastening means, further wherein said sock is assembled by folding the flat blank in half lengthwise and engaging the mating fastening means on opposing sets of tabs.

14. A method for providing a limb or extremity of an animal with a ventilated non-slip mobility sock, said method comprising the steps of: (a) placing the limb or extremity of the animal atop a flat blank cut from a planar sheet of a flexible, stretchable, porous material having a high coefficient of friction and having a generally rectangular shape, comprised of two long sides and two short sides, said flat blank further comprising a first set of tabs extending from the distal end of a first long side and second set of tabs extending from the distal end of the second long side, disposed opposite said first set of tabs, wherein said tabs are provided with mating fastening means; (b) folding the blank in half lengthwise such that the limb or extremity rests between the two halves, thereby forming a mobility sock having three open sides (two long, one short) and one closed short end; and (c) folding the free edges of the two long sides of the mobility sock about the limb or extremity of the animal and engaging the mating fastening means on opposing sets of tabs so as to seal the two long sides and removably secure the mobility sock to the animal's limb or extremity.

Description:

PRIORITY

This application claims the benefit of provisional application 60/808,063 filed May 24, 2006, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a ventilated, non-slip sleeve configured to conform to an object, particularly a body part such as an appendage, limb or extremity, as well as method for making and using such a ventilated, non-slip sleeve. More particularly, the present invention relates to a ventilated, non-slip sleeve in the form of a mobility sock for an injured and/or aged animal, for example a older pet, and a method for making the mobility sock of the present invention from a porous, non-slip material.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conditions created by injury, or by deteriorating health due to age or disease, frequently cause decreased function in the limbs of animals. Geriatric dogs in particular often suffer from age-related muscle atrophy, particularly in the hind legs, along with deterioration of neuro-muscular function, spine problems, arthritis and degenerative joint disease such as hip dysplasia. These conditions, individually or in combination, lead to decreased mobility due to associated pain or to loss of balance and control. Dogs with these problems have difficulty maintaining their footing when walking, particularly on slippery or smooth surfaces, for example, polished wood and tile floors. In addition, loss of control of the limbs may cause improper paw positioning, wherein the pads of the paw do not contact the floor. This frequently causes the paw the “slip out” from under the animal causing the animal to fall. This, in turn, makes the animal reluctant to walk.

When a conventional cast is applied to the distal portion of the limb of an animal, the bottom surface/distal end of the cast generally provides little resistance to skidding when the animal attempts to stand on a smooth surface such as, for instance, floors of polished wood, vinyl tile, ceramic tile or terrazzo. This lack of “grip” frequently causes difficulty for the animal when standing or walking, and may cause additional injury to the animal. The inclusion of a “cast boot”, a non-slip device typically mounted to the bottom surface of a foot cast on a human, is not advisable since it is necessary that air reach the interior of the cast.

Boots and booties (i.e., socks) for dogs are well known in the art and fulfill a range of needs. Some are used to protect the paws of dogs during outdoor activities, such as to prevent injury to the pads of a paw when traversing rocky terrain. Others are intended to protect injured paws and lower limbs, and to provide traction for unstable dogs. Examples of these include, but are not limited to, Thera-Paw™ boots (Thera-Paw, Inc., Lebanon, N.J.) and Standard Boots, High Performance Boots and Protective Boots by HandicappedPets.com (Amherst, N.H.). Boots of these types are composed of a fabric or leather body having an upper portion with one or more straps for securing the boot to the dog, and a lower portion with a padded, non-slip component or coating (generally neoprene or similar) forming the sole and lower side portions of the boot. In addition to providing a non-slip surface, the neoprene sole prevents moisture from entering the boot when worn in damp areas.

Such boots are well suited to the needs of active dogs, and may be used to improve the mobility of dogs with decreased leg functions. However, the moisture-proof sole and side portions tend to trap moisture within the boot. Perspiration, often coupled with a lack of circulation, allows irritation and maceration of the skin under the boot (or cast or brace) which, in turn, may result in the growth of bacteria and skin erosion. If untreated, this condition can lead to infection. Accordingly, extended wear of such moisture-proof boots is not recommended. Furthermore, the capabilities of these boots generally exceed the needs of most geriatric dogs. Such dogs generally do not run, jump, or walk long distances. Their needs are simple: generally to access food and water, walk outside for elimination, and move from one napping spot to another. Accordingly, there is a need for a low-cost, ventilated, non-slip boot which can be affixed to the distal portion of the animal's limb or about a cast disposed thereon.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, it is accordingly an object of this invention to produce a ventilated, non-slip sleeve which can be applied to the distal end of an appendage, limb or extremity of an animal. Depending upon the condition of the animal, the sleeve may be applied over a fiberglass cast or directly to the limb itself.

It will be understood by those skilled in the art that one or more aspects of this invention can meet certain objectives, while one or more other aspects can meet other objectives. Each objective may not apply equally, in all its respects, to every aspect and embodiment of this invention. As such, the following objects may be viewed in the alternative with respect to any one aspect of this invention.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a ventilated, non-slip sleeve from a planar sheet or flat blank of a flexible, stretchable, porous material having a high coefficient of friction.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a ventilated, non-slip sleeve in the form of a mobility sock configured to be slidably received about or removably affixed to a limb or extremity of an animal (e.g., a paw, foot or leg) or to an orthopaedic cast or brace disposed thereon.

A further object of the present invention is to provide the mobility sock with enhanced ventilation and non-slip character, more particularly wherein all portions are equally ventilated and all exterior surfaces are equally non-slip. In this manner, the mobility sock of the present invention not only prevents moisture entrapment and resulting infections in the lower limb associated with the devices of the prior art but also provides improved traction and ambulation regardless of what portion of the animal's limb contacts the floor.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock which is both economical and of simple construction.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock that effectively remains in place but that can also be readily and conveniently applied and removed. To that end, the mobility sock is preferably provided with one or more releasable fastening means for securing the sock to the limb or cast.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock from a sleeve of water-resistant mesh.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock which also provides cushioning.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a method of making a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock as a unitary construction, at a low cost.

In one particular embodiment, the present invention is directed to a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock for an animal fabricated from a porous yet water-resistant composite material, for example, from a fabric mesh having a rubber or plastic material foamed thereon. Composite materials of this type are known in the art and are described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,346,278 (Dehondt), the entire contents of which are herein incorporated by reference. This economical non-slip material is frequently used for shelf lining, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Commercial examples of this material include, but are not limited to, Easy Liner™ and Easy Liner Supreme™ shelf liner materials by Henkel Consumer Adhesives (Avon, Ohio), and Magic-Grip™ by American Non-slip Products (Alpharetta, Ga.). In the context of the present invention, a flat blank having a predetermined shape is cut from the material. Through a sequence of folding operations, the blank is formed into a predetermined shape having overlaps and seams. The seams and overlapping portions are joined or fused to make a three dimensional “sock” or “boot” which may be fitted to the distal end of the limb of an animal, either directly over the limb itself or over an orthopaedic cast or brace disposed thereon.

Because the mobility sock of the present invention can be formed from a planar sheet of a composite material using a sequence of simple folding and bonding operations, it can be produced at low cost. The porous nature of the material allows ventilation of the limb so as to prevent overheating and the collection of moisture which, as discussed above, can lead to infection.

In another aspect, the present invention is directed to a non-slip cover for an irregularly shaped item or object, for example one which is neither approximately flat nor cylindrical nor a simple combination of flat and cylindrical, and a method of making same. The method includes the steps of forming a flat blank having a predetermined shape from porous sheet material formed from an open scrim coated with polymeric foam. The blank is formed in a sequence of folding operations to a predetermined shape having overlaps and seams. The seam and overlapping portions are fused by melting the polymeric foam so as to form a three dimensional non-slip object. In certain preferred embodiments, additional layers of material may be bonded to predetermined locations so as to provide additional cushioning and material thickness on wear surfaces.

These and other objects and features of the invention will become more fully apparent when the following detailed description is read in conjunction with the accompanying FIGS. and examples. However, it is to be understood that both the foregoing summary of the invention and the following detailed description are of a preferred embodiment, and not restrictive of the invention or other alternate embodiments of the invention. In particular, while the invention is described herein with reference to a number of specific embodiments, it will be appreciated that the description is illustrative of the invention and is not constructed as limiting of the invention. Various modifications and applications may occur to those who are skilled in the art, without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention, as described by the appended claims. Likewise, other objects, features, benefits and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from this summary and certain embodiments described below, and will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art having knowledge in the relevant art. Such objects, features, benefits and advantages will be apparent from the above as taken into conjunction with the accompanying examples, data, figures and all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom, alone or with consideration of the references incorporated herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various aspects and applications of the present invention will become apparent to the skilled artisan upon consideration of the brief description of the figures and the detailed description of the present invention and its preferred embodiments which follows:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exemplary composite material found in the prior art which may be used to form sleeves, socks and other covering structures in accordance with the principles of this invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock formed in accordance with the principles of this invention on the leg of a dog.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the flat blank formed from the material of FIG. 1 for forming a ventilated, non-slip mobility sock according to the principles of this invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the blank of FIG. 3 folded in preparation for bonding.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the folded blank of FIG. 4 with the lateral edges joined, thereby forming a sleeve in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the sleeve of FIG. 5 with a longitudinal cut disposed therein.

FIG. 7 is plan view of a mobility sock formed in accordance with the principles of this invention.

FIG. 8 is a proximal end view of the object of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the object of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10 is a plan view of an alternate blank used to form an alternate embodiment of the mobility sock of the present invention.

FIG. 11 depicts the first step of a multi-step process used in forming the alternate embodiment mobility sock, using the blank of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 depicts the second step of a multi-step process used in forming the alternate embodiment mobility sock, using the blank of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 depicts the third step of a multi-step process of a multi-step process used in forming the alternate embodiment mobility sock, using the blank of FIG. 10.

FIG. 14 depicts the fourth step of a multi-step process of a multi-step process used in forming the alternate embodiment mobility sock, using the blank of FIG. 10.

FIG. 15 depicts the fifth step of a multi-step process of a multi-step process used in forming the alternate embodiment mobility sock, using the blank of FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

Although any materials and methods similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of embodiments of the present invention, the preferred methods, materials, and embodiments are now described. However, before the present invention is now described, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to the particular materials, compositions, methodologies or protocols herein described, as these may vary in accordance with routine experimentation and optimization. It is also to be understood that the terminology used in the description is for the purpose of describing the particular versions or embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention which will be limited only by the appended claims.

All patents and publications mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the invention is not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior invention.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. However, in case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control. Accordingly, in the context of the present invention, the following definitions apply:

As used herein and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” include plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to a “seam” is a reference to one or more seams and equivalents thereof known to those skilled in the art, and so forth.

The term “proximal” refers to a location that is situated toward the point of origin or attachment, as of a limb or bone, or a central point. Conversely, the term “distal” refers to a location that is situated farthest away from a point of origin or attachment or central point. Accordingly, when applied to the forelimb of a dog, the proximal portion of the sock will be the upper portion situated about or closest to the pastern or knee whereas the distal portion of the sock will be the lower portion situated about or closest to the claws or toes.

Embodiments of the present invention are characterized as being “non-slip” or “non-skid”. These terms are interchangeably used herein to refer to sleeves, socks, boots or the like having a high friction surface that provides non-slip properties by substantially increasing the coefficient of friction between, for example, an animal's foot and a floor surface. In a preferred embodiment, the high friction material utilized has a sufficiently high static coefficient of friction, for example, a static coefficient of friction that about 1.0 or higher. In a preferred embodiment, the non-slip character is not limited to the “sole” or lower portions of the sleeve assembly. Rather, it is preferable that the entirety of the sleeve, sock, boot, or the like be formed from a unitary blank or sheet of “non-slip” material.

Embodiments of the present invention are characterized as being “ventilated”, more particularly being ventilated throughout. In the context of the present invention, a ventilated mobility sock should be provided throughout with a multitude of pores or vents that admit circulation of fresh air to the sock's interior, so as to allow for aeration of the underlying limb or the orthopaedic cast or brace disposed thereon.

To achieve sufficient ventilated and non-slip character, it is preferable to form the sleeve, sock, boot or the like from a foam coated mesh or scrim material. A “mesh” is defined as any knit, woven, or knotted fabric of open texture. Similarly, a “scrim” is defined as a firm open-weave fabric, typically of cotton or linen. In the context of the present invention, these terms are used interchangeably to refer to breathable, porous, typically loosely woven fabrics of natural or synthetic origin.

As noted above, the present invention utilizes a material comprised of a foam coated scrim. In the context of the present invention, exemplary foam materials include, but are not limited, to expandable plastic or polymeric foams, more particularly rubbery polymers such as polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride, polychloroprene (e.g., Neoprene™), and the like.

The instant invention has both human medical and veterinary applications. Accordingly, the terms “subject” and “patient” are used interchangeably herein to refer to the person or animal being treated. Exemplary animals include house pets, farm animals, and zoo animals. In a preferred embodiment, the subject is a mammal, more particularly a pet such as a dog or cat.

The non-slip sleeve of the present invention may be optionally provided with one or more releasable fastening means for securing the sleeve in position. For example, in the context of a veterinary mobility sock, it is desirable to include at least one fastening means at the proximal end, so as to engage the relevant anatomical structure of respective the limb or extremity and secure the sock in position. In the context of a dog's forefoot, the relevant anatomical structure is typically at or near the dewclaw, pastern, or knee. It is often desirable to include multiple fastening means, for example one to be secured above the dewclaw and one at the pastern.

The number or type of fastening means utilized is not particularly critical to the present invention. In one embodiment, the fastening means is afforded with both a plurality of fasteners and plurality of mating receivers. In another embodiment, the strap may be provided with the plurality of fasteners while the plurality of mating receivers is disposed directly on the sleeve or sock itself (or vice versa). For example, the fastening means may comprise a strap afforded with hook fabric at one end and mating loop or pile fabric (e.g., Velcro™) at the other. It will be readily apparent that mating hook-and-pile fabric may be exchanged for a plurality of hooks and mating eyelets, buttons and button holes, or mating snaps.

Hereinafter, the present invention is described in more detail by reference to drawings of preferred embodiments. However, the drawings are provided for the purpose of illustrating certain principles and aspects of the invention and not for the purposes of limiting the invention. Those skilled in the art will recognize that variations and modifications may be made to the depicted embodiments without changing the principles of the invention herein disclosed. As such, methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention.

In a preferred embodiment, the material used for forming the mobility sock and other non-slip, cushioned items in accordance with the principles of this invention is formed by dipping a sheet of mesh or scrim material into a reservoir of plasticized foam. This results in the formation of globules of rubbery polymeric material, for example plasticized vinyl compounds such as polyvinyl chloride, distributed randomly in both directions about the fiber forming the open-weave mesh or scrim fabric. The globules are more pronounced at intersections of the fibers forming the fabric. The fabric may contain added scrim in openings or enlarged open gaps forming a pattern over the fabric. The thread pattern of the scrim used to produce the material, and the amount of foam adhering to the scrim can vary, resulting in material having a variety of appearances. FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary material 100 having scrim 102 with a thread pattern and a foam coating 104 which together form a regular pattern of openings 106 in material 100.

Forming a complex three-dimensional object from a planar sheet material requires that the material be cut to a predetermined shape and folded to form seams which are joined to form the object. Joining of the seams may be accomplished using adhesive, stitching, mechanical fasteners, or fusing of the material, for example through the selective application of heat. In the case of the porous, non-slip material 100 used for this invention, seams are preferably joined by means of heat and/or pressure fusion. For example, a heated element of appropriate size and shape may be applied to the seam or fold. While applying a compressive force, material 100 is heated to a temperature sufficient to cause localized melting and flow of the tissue so as to cause fusing of the foam of the overlapping material.

Referring to FIG. 2, which depicts a veterinary mobility sock constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention and mounted on the leg of a dog, the mobility sock 1 has a closed-end, distal (lower) portion 2 which covers the paw of the animal, and an upper portion 4 which wraps around the leg of the animal and is secured by straps 6. As noted above, the straps may be secured using a variety of fastening mechanism, from mating hook-and-pile fabric, to mating hooks and eyelets, from buttons and button holes to mating snaps. Depicted in FIG. 2 is a preferred embodiment, wherein the upper and lower portions are integrally formed, as a unitary construction from a single sheet of foam coated scrim. In this manner, all portions and surfaces of the mobility sock are both sufficiently ventilated and sufficiently non-slip.

FIG. 3 depicts a flat blank, having a predetermined shape cut from a planar sheet of material, which is used to form a non-slip sleeve, sock or boot constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. Blank 10 is symmetrical about line 12 with lateral edges 14. In FIG. 4, blank 10 is folded at line 12. As shown in FIG. 5, the lateral edges 14 of folded blank 10 may be joined to form seams 15 of tubular member 16 which has a closed end 18 and an open end 20. In a preferred embodiment, the edges 14 are joined to form seams 15 using heat and pressure so as to fuse the polymeric foam. In other embodiments, a solvent bonding agent may be used. In still other embodiments, edges 14 may be joined by stitching or mechanical fasteners. In FIG. 6, a longitudinal cut 22 of in upper wall 24 of member 16 extends distance 26 from open end 20 of member 16.

Instead of folding a single blank as discussed above, one can create a similar shaped sleeve by simply placing two blanks of generally equal dimension on top of each other (not shown). In that context, one would join the lateral edges of three of the four sides to form a peripheral seam and one open end.

FIGS. 7 through 9 depict a non-slip mobility sock 1 formed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. Member 16 with cut 22 is turned inside out such that seams 15 are on the interior of the sleeve 1. Portion 30, extending distance 32 from closed end 18 has a width 34. Mid-portion 36 has a minimum width 38. Tapered portion 42 extends from the end of portion 36 to open end 20. Portion 42 has a width 44 at end 20. Other shapes may be used. For instance, widths 34, 38 and 44 may be equal so that sock 1 has a constant width.

The process used to produce sock 1 may be used to form other cushioned, non-slip sleeves, objects and items. More particularly, sheet material formed from a scrim coated with polymeric foam may be cut to a predetermined shape, formed to a three dimensional shape by folding and contouring, and the seams thereof fused by use of heat and pressure which cause local melting and bonding of the polymeric foam material.

An alternate embodiment of the veterinary mobility sock of the present invention is depicted in FIGS. 10 through 15. In this embodiment, the sock is formed from the same material as the previous embodiment; however, bonded seams are not used.

FIG. 10 depicts the precut blank configured to construct mobility sock 200. Blank 202 has a first portion 204 and a second portion 206 to which are attached portions 208 with hook fastener material 210 attached to their lateral-most portions, and portions 212 with loop fastener material 214 attached to the underside of their lateral-most portions. Fastener materials 210 and 214 together form a fastener pair. Portion 216 of first portion 204 is laterally outside fold line 218.

In use, the foot or paw 300 of the animal is placed atop blank 202. Portion 216 of first portion 204 is wrapped over the top of paw 300 as shown in FIG. 11, approximately along fold line 218. Portion 220 is laterally outside fold line 222. Subsequently, as seen in FIG. 12, portion 220 is wrapped over the top of paw 300 and portion 216. Fold line 222 is at the juncture of first portion 204 and second portion 206. In FIG. 13, second portion 206 is folded over paw 300 which is wrapped beneath portions 216 and 220 of first portion 204, the folding being along line 222 of FIG. 12. Following this, as shown in FIG. 14, portions 212 with loop fastener material 214 are folded under portions 204 and 206 which are wrapped about paw 300, the fold being approximately along line 224 of FIG. 13. Subsequently, portions 208 with hook fastener material 210 are folded under portions 204 and 206 which are wrapped about paw 300, the fold being approximately along line 226 of FIG. 14. Fastener pairs formed by hook material 210 and loop material 214 are joined so as to removably secure mobility sock 200 to paw 300.

Sleeves, socks, boots, and the like formed in accordance with this invention may be formed in a range of sizes and lengths to fit animals of various sizes and with various medical conditions. For instance, socks may be made with greater widths relative to their lengths for animals having limbs in casts or splints. Also, socks may have added length so that they can be cut to a length which is appropriate to the animal to which they are to be applied.

The present invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific examples and embodiments. However, the foregoing description is exemplary and explanatory in nature and is intended only to illustrate the invention and its preferred embodiments. One skilled in the art will readily recognize that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention and that alternate embodiments are also contemplated. For example, in some embodiments, the finished sock or boot may be treated with a substance which discourages chewing on the sock or boot by the animal. Alternatively, in other embodiments, the sock or boot may be provided with a non-porous water-proof cover or water-proof liner for temporary use on an animal which will be walking in a wet environment. Also contemplated are mobility socks and cast boots made from non-porous materials in which perforations are formed so as to afford the sock or boot with sufficient ventilation.

Thus, it should be clearly understood that the instant descriptions are added only by way of example and are not intended to limit, in any way, the scope of the invention. Moreover, while the present invention has been described with particularity in connection with specific examples, other advantages and features will become apparent from the claims filed hereafter, with the scope of such claims to be determined by their reasonable equivalents, as would be understood by those skilled in the art. In sum, the invention is intended to be defined not by the foregoing description, but by the following claims and their equivalents.