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Hemivertebrae in Dogs

Cost of Treatment: $1,000 – $5,000

What is Hemivertebrae in Dogs?

A birth defect in dogs characterized by vertebrae that are underdeveloped and wedged-shaped on one side. These abnormally developed vertebrae may cause the compression of the spinal cord leading to intense pain. This beagle looks like it just did something really bad - the curly tail about to go between its legs.

The presence of caudal hemivertebrae is the reason why some breeds have curly tails (e.g. Pugs). In the tail, abnormally shaped vertebrae are not a problem, but sometimes these dogs can have hemivertebrae in other parts of the spinal column, which may cause pain.

German shepherds inherit hemivertebra as an autosomal recessive trait.

Most dogs who suffer from this disease do not show any clinical signs or the signs are mild. Sometimes the disease is diagnosed as an accidental finding when radiographs are taken for another purpose. When signs of hemivertebra do appear, they are usually mild and are most commonly seen in puppies.

Which Dog Breeds Are Commonly Affected by Hemivertebrae?

Symptoms of Hemivertebrae in Dogs

  • Weakness of the hind limb
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Urinary incontinence

Treatment of Hemivertebrae in Dogs

Dogs with mild signs can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and rest. Dogs who develop severe signs may need surgery to decompress the vertebral spine.

Hemivertebrae is a serious condition, and it can rack up a serious bill. Luckily, pet insurance plans can relieve some of those bills. If you haven’t considered buying one, now is the time.

Resources for Hemivertebrae in Dogs

1- Congenital vertebral malformations in Dogs by The Merck Pet Health Manual

Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.

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