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How to Care for Your Dog with Spina Bifida

"After pups are born, you should constantly be checking for any abnormalities as they grow up."

It can be life-changing to know that our furry family members are experiencing something painful that will hinder them from doing things they love like taking walks to the park, and running and playing. Among the many spinal illnesses that affect your dogs, Spina Bifida is one of them.

Here's a thorough discussion on what Spina Bifida is about, symptoms, diagnosis, and proper management so that you and your dog can still live a fun, happy life.


Spina Bifida is a spinal illness in dogs. According to the exerts at UC Davis Veterinary MedicineSpina bifida arises due to the deformity of the spinal cord and/or vertebrae during a mother dog’s pregnancy. The spinal cord is protected and surrounded by the vertebrae of the spinal column. If during the fetal development the vertebrae doesn't completely grow around the spinal cord, a part of the spinal cord is exposed. It strikingly creates impact on the quality of a dog’s life. They have difficulties walking, or cannot walk at all, and are incontinent, making them susceptible to endless cycles of skin and urinary tract infections. 

In factdogs with Spina Bifida do not really make ideal pets and most of them are euthanized at a young age. 


Spina Bifida is a congenital abnormality. After pups are born, you should be constantly checking for any abnormalities as they grow up. Usually when the pup has Spina Bifida, they crawl or walk differently compared to their other littermates. 

The veterinarian will record the history of the puppy’s environment and their development. The pup will also undergo a series of examinations both neurological and physical. Typically, radiographs and myelography can help confirm the diagnosis of spina bifida in dogs. Your vet may also require a CT scan. 


Even if Spina Bifida does not worsen as your fur-baby grows older, the symptoms of having this disease is more than enough to make it hard for the pup to live a quality life. Some dogs don't develop signs, others do. Here are some of the signs to look for, according to Vetstream. 

  • Weakness of rear limbs
  • Incomplete paralysis of one or both hind legs
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of sensation in the region between the tail and the reproductive part
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Urinary incontinence


Generally, there is no known treatment for Spina Bifida. Depending on the severeness of the dog's condition, some have a great deal of discomfort pain and are usually euthanized early on. For some who don't have severe cases, you can do some things to improve your fur-baby's quality of life. 

Maintain good hygiene. Bathe your dog regularly and groom them to keep them happy despite their condition. Their skin is at high risk of chafing and becoming sore especially at the hips, elbows and ankles. Always check these areas. 

Provide proper nutrition. Providing your fur-baby good, healthy diet is a perfect way to boost up their wellness. But make sure that this diet is advised by your veterinarian so it will provide them with the proper nutrition they need.  

There are also supplements available, like that of Pet Parents® Hip and Joint Supplements that help support better mobility, contribute to overall joint health, and assist with joint stress recovery.

Pet Parents® also offer 5-in-1 Multivitamins. These Multivitamins help provide your fur-baby who has Spina Bifida with daily health support. 

Note: Before giving your fur-baby supplements, consult your vet first as some medicines (if ever your dog is taking one) may react when taken together with supplements. 

Dog diapers and Pawtect® Pads. Going back to what's stated above, to avoid your dog from bathing in their pee and poop, Pet Parents® dog diapers  and Pet Parents® Pawtect® Washable Pads are such great help in keeping your dog comfortable and your home clean since dogs with Spina Bifida are known to also suffer from urinary and fecal incontinence. 

Go out. Your dog's condition should never hinder the both of you to experience the world together. There are wheelchairs and carts that will help you and your paralyzed dog move around. 

Having a dog who is experiencing Spina Bifida is never easy but there are things you can do and provide to make your dog's life bettereven with a disability. 

Doggy Diaper

"Dog diapers and Pawtect® Pads are such great help in keeping your dog comfortable and your home clean since dogs with Spina Bifida are known to also suffer from urinary and fecal incontinence."

The Author:

Micka V.

Micka Virtudazo is a full-time content creator at Pet Parents who lives with thirteen adorable American Bullies and a Shih Tzu-Maltese mix named Gretel. She especially enjoys writing how-to articles as she feels through this she can connect to other pet parents on a more personal level.

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