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Spinal Cord Development Disorders in Dogs

Spinal Dysraphism in Dogs

“Spinal Dysraphism” refers to a range of developmental disorders affecting the spinal cord, resulting in diverse structural abnormalities. These abnormalities can either progress over time or remain stable. Spinal Dysraphism has been observed in breeds such as English bulldogs, Samoyeds, Dalmatians, English setters, golden retrievers, rottweilers, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Symptoms and Types

  • Weakness in Limbs
  • Lack of Balance
  • Pain in Neck or Head
  • Unsteady Gait
  • Abnormalities in Posture


Spinal dysraphism commonly arises from spinal cord injury caused by infection, trauma, or tumors. Genetics also plays a significant role, particularly in Weimaraners.


To diagnose spinal dysraphism in your dog, provide a comprehensive history of your pet’s health, detailing the symptoms’ onset and characteristics. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination along with conducting a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC). Despite these tests, results may appear normal.

X-rays can potentially uncover abnormalities associated with compression in the vertebral column and spinal cord in certain patients.


For dogs with mild symptoms, minimal treatment may suffice, while more severe cases may necessitate the use of canine carts to aid mobility. Surgical procedures may also be considered to halt progression or ameliorate symptoms by slowing neurological decline.

In instances of urinary infections, antibiotics are administered to manage the infections. Additionally, drugs are employed to decrease cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pressure in the brain and spinal cord.

Living and Management

Preserving the quality of life is paramount for dogs coping with spinal dysraphism. Additional considerations involve addressing secondary urinary tract infections through antibiotic treatment and regularly repositioning dogs that remain immobile to prevent ulcers, urine, and fecal scalds.

If the dog demonstrates minimal response to treatment or if the disease has progressed significantly, your veterinarian may advise euthanasia.

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