Spinal Dysraphism in Dogs
"Spinal Dysraphism" is a broad term encompassing developmental disorders of spinal cord leading to various structural defects. It may be progressive or non-progressive in nature. Spinal Dysraphism has been reported in English bulldogs, Samoyeds, Dalmatians, English setters, golden retrievers, rottweilers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Symptoms and Types
- Limb weakness
- Neck or head pain
- Uncoordinated walk
- Postural abnormalities
Often, spinal dysraphism is due to spinal cord damage due to infection, trauma, or tumor(s). Genetics is also a factor, especially in weimaraners.
You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. The veterinarian will then conduct a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC) -- the results of which may be normal.
X-rays may reveal abnormalities related to vertebral column and spinal cord compression in some patients.
Those with mild symptoms may require little treatment, whereas more severe cases may require the use of canine carts to assist mobility. Surgical intervention may also help in arresting the progression or improve the course by slowing the progression of neurological symptoms.
In case of urinary infections, antibiotics are used to control infections. Drugs, meanwhile, are used to reduce cerebrospinal fluid or CSF pressure in brain and spinal cord.
Living and Management
Maintaining the quality of life is important in dogs suffering from spinal dysraphism. Other concerns include secondary urinary tract infections, which benefit from antibiotic therapy, and constant turning of dogs that remain flat. This will help prevent ulcers and urine and fecal scalds.
If the dog shows little response to treatment, or in cases of advanced disease, your veterinarian may recommend euthanasia.