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LIVING WITH: Spina Bifida - why does it happen by Vicky Collins-Nattrass

Spina bifida in Dogs.

Why does it happen?

When the puppy is forming in mum, the very early days it’s a crucial window , many breeders take a lead from the Human prevention of this condition, by giving folic acid tablets for the mum for the first 50 days of their pregnancy. This is thought to work better in humans than canines but its still worth the breeder doing that. It is thought that if the mum has a temperature from a virus this increases the risk of this and cleft palates is much increased and also this can happen just randomly in an otherwise healthy litter. Spinal issues Bulldogs can suffer from Spina Bifida and spinal pressures caused by Hemivertebrae which is a butterfly wedge on their spine causing crushing of the spinal cord, these conditions are quite rare, Spina Bifida is easier to diagnose as often they have a pronounced dip in their back just above the tail . How it affects them varies considerably from dog to dog, sometimes they are hardly showing any signs , sometimes they are wobbly on their back end which alerts the breeder . Not all slow to get up puppies have this condition in fact I think it is extremely RARE, however once its realised an assessment must be made of the outlook for living a life must be made . Consequences These are hard to say as the variation of the condition is so great. Commonly they can be doubly incontinent, this is the hardest thing to deal with, there are Belly Bands for boy puppies which can be worn around the belly and soak up the wee .[Bulldog Rescue can supply these with measurements to order ] Food must be very carefully chosen as hard firm poop is very important , many people cope by knowing puppies routine and when the bowels will open , some diets are so soft poop that its unfortunately leaking and occurring any time or anywhere . This is something you must find out what suits the pup individually. As far as actual illness, most puppies are mostly incredibly happy and normal with no extra health issues unless the vet is recommending steroid treatment to remove inflammation. However Hemivertebrae is another outlook , many puppies worsen with age and gaining weight , some go completely off their legs , some are very unstable and they could suffer pain depending when symptoms develops, so its really up to the Vet and yourself to decide, Euthanasia has to be considered Surgery is VERY UNLIKELY to be successful, I know a millionaire flew his dog to Switzerland to an Expert from South Africa but it was not successful . Harsh but it must always be about the dog’s quality of life. Is a Disabled Puppy for me? This is really difficult as most people looking at an adorable puppy follow their heart but reality is a very big thing , incontinence takes a very special dedicated owner , this makes everyone’s house a bit smelly at best but at worst STINKING , traveling is more difficult , from the car point of view but the unpredictability of a poop machine in places you want to go make this a very important thing to consider .Urinating can be coped with but its often a problem that wearing nappy or belly band needs frequent changing because they can get urine burns from stale urine . So going out in public can be a trial , long and deep thinking is needed to decide if you could take on a puppy like this the average person buying a dog I would say don’t , there are special people who can cope but I really think few and far between .

.SEE ALSO LIVING WITH: Incontinence by Kathryn Harrison

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