Spina Bifida In Bulldogs And French Bulldogs

By: Dr. Roy Kraemer |
DVM, Bulldog Specialist Veterinarian

Bulldogs and Fr. bulldogs with spina bifida are not always symptomatic and likely have a genetic origin

Bulldog spina bifida diapers

Spina Bifida in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs / CAUSE:

Spina bifida is a congenital condition where there’s an incomplete closure of the spinal column during embryonic development, leading to defects in the spinal cord and its protective covering. In the case of bulldogs with spina bifida, this condition manifests as missing parts of the vertebrae, particularly in the vertebral arches.

The vertebral arches normally encase and protect the spinal cord, providing it with a bony shield. However, in bulldogs with spina bifida, this protective structure is incomplete or missing, leaving portions of the spinal cord exposed. This makes the bulldog’s spinal cord vulnerable to injury, as it lacks the usual bony protection.

The exposed portions of the spinal cord may protrude outward in severe cases, increasing their susceptibility to injury.

However, it’s important to note that not all bulldogs with spina bifida necessarily exhibit symptoms. Some may be asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show any obvious signs of the condition despite having the underlying anatomical abnormality.

SPINA BIFIDA RADIOGRAPH INTERPURATION

spina bifida radiograph

The large, thick arrows show the normal vertebrae with their spinous process. The narrow arrow shows the missing spinous process consistent with bulldog Spina Bifida

When the defect includes multiple vertebrae the nonprotected exposed and protruding spinal cord is likely to cause neurological injuries.

Spina Bifida in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs PRESENTATION:

Bulldogs with spina bifida who exhibit clinical signs often present with a variety of neurological issues, particularly affecting the lower back and hindquarters. Some of the common neurological problems associated with spina bifida in bulldogs include:

  • Urinary incontinence: Due to dysfunction in the nerves controlling the bladder, affected bulldogs may have difficulty controlling urination, leading to involuntary leakage of urine.
  • Fecal incontinence: Similarly, dysfunction in the nerves controlling the bowel can result in the inability to control bowel movements, leading to fecal incontinence.
  • Persistent urinary tract infections (UTIs): The combination of urinary and fecal incontinence can predispose bulldogs to UTIs. Fecal contaminants and residual urine in the bladder can create an environment conducive to bacterial growth, leading to recurrent infections.
  • Hind legs weakness: Bulldogs with spina bifida may exhibit mild weakness in the hind legs due to neurological deficits affecting muscle function and coordination.
  • Paraplegia or paralysis: In severe cases, bulldogs may experience partial or complete paralysis of the hindquarters due to the extent of spinal cord involvement.
  • Ataxia: Bulldogs may display incoordination and an unsteady gait due to impaired nerve function affecting balance and coordination.
  • Loss of pain sensation in the hind section: Severe cases of spina bifida can result in the loss of sensation in the hindquarters, making affected bulldogs unaware of pain or discomfort in that region.

 bulldogs with spina bifida often require special attention and care 

bulldog spina bifida

Spina Bifida in Bulldogs & Fr. Bulldog PREVENTION & CARE:

There are no known effective treatments for English bulldogs and French bulldog puppies with spina bifida. Unfortunately, some severe bulldog and French bulldog Spina Bifida are euthanized due to poor quality of life and care requirements.

Management of these neurological symptoms often involves a combination of

  • supportive care
  • physical therapy
  • medications to manage urinary and fecal incontinence
  • close monitoring for the development of complications such as urinary tract infections.

V4B Urinary Tract Health Supplement

There is ongoing research and trial, one of which is stem cell therapy that in the future might provide therapeutic relief for those poor puppies.

Daily hygine care of the perianal and vaginal area is critical

Fr Bulldog Antiseptic Skin fold XL Wipe

Bulldogs and French bulldogs suffering from medical problems related to spina bifida usually require daily, lifelong support & care.

BULLDOG SPINA BIFIDA SKINFOLD ANTISEPTIC WIPES:

Daily wiping of the vaginal folds, and anal and perianal regions with antiseptic wipes like

BULLDOG SPINA BIFIDA UTI PREVENTION:

Supplements to prevent multidrug-resistant bacteria (biofilm), like

BULLDOG SPINA BIFIDA IMMUNE & ANTI-INFLAMMATION:

Supplements to enhance the immune system and reduce inflammation, like

Bulldog Immune Support Plus

SPINA BIFIDA MUST DO

  1. TRANSPORTATION: a frame with wheels or a wagon to transport your bulldog
  2. PHYSIOTHERAPY: physiotherapy to maintain hind legs muscle tone.
  3. HYGIENE: Hygiene Management to prevent recurrent urinary tract infection
  4. DIAPER CHANGE: timely diaper change to avoid skin soiling wounds and UTI

Spina Bifida in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs TIPS & WARNINGS:

Below is a selective spina bifida shortlist courtesy of Dr. Kraemer

SPINA BIFIDA LOCATION TIP

Spina bifida in bulldogs can occur anywhere in the spinal column but is seen most often in the lower back region.

most bulldogs with spina bifida present with lower back vertebral defects involving the lumbar and/or Sacral vertebra.

BULLDOG SPINA BIFIDA GROUP AGE TIP

Clinical problems exhibited by spina bifida usually begin early in life, often when your bulldog puppy starts walking.

BULLDOG SPINA BIFIDA GENETIC LINK TIP:

We believe that there is a genetic link that undines spina bifida in bulldogs,

In addition, it is speculated that external environmental toxins during pregnancy, in-utero stress, nutritional imbalance, and other deficits could  trigger bulldog spina bifida

SPINA BIFIDA BREEDS TIP

English and French bulldogs are one of the most common breeds that suffer from Spina Bifida

SPINA BIFIDA SYMPTOMS FREE TIP

Bulldogs with only minimal vertebral involvement might never exhibit clinical problems and are sometimes diagnosed during random radiographs.

SPINA BIFIDA DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING TIP

Radiograph images of bulldogs with spina bifida usually lack vertebral arches or/and dorsal spinous processes of a single or multi-vertebra that failed to fuse. In some cases, spina bifida in

bulldog spina bifida wheels

BULLDOG SPINA BIFIDA PAIN SENSATION WARNING:

Bulldogs suffering from an advanced case of spina bifida might not have a good pain sensation in their back parts and will show no distress from painful stimuli to that area.

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The information provided on this platform is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding any medical condition. It's important to always consider professional medical advice promptly and not to delay seeking it based on information you've read on this platform. Any reliance on the information provided here is entirely at your discretion.

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