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Hemivertebrae in Dogs

Big dog in a wheelchair

Pictured Above: Harley suffers from Hemivertebrae and requires walking assistance

Hemivertebrae in Dogs


Hemivertebrae are bones of the spine that are abnormally shaped. Because of their abnormal shape these bones don't align correctly with the other bones in the spine. This condition can lead to instability and deformity of the spinal column, which can cause severe pain, wobbliness of the hind legs, loss of hind leg function and incontinence (inability to control passing urine or feces).


Signs & Symptoms


Not all animals with hemivertebrae develop these signs, some dogs have milder signs of or no signs at all. Dogs with severe signs may need major surgical interventions, which have their own welfare impacts, and, despite this, some may not recover and need to be euthanized on humane grounds.




A diagnosis is made on examination and radiography (taking x-ray pictures).


Treatment Options


Anti-inflammatory drugs tend to help dogs that are mildly affected by Hemivertebrae. Moderate to severely affected patients tend to require surgery called a hemilaminectomy to relieve the compression on the spinal cord. A board-certified veterinary surgeon or veterinary neurologist is always tapped for this delicate surgical procedure.


Treatment Costs

The cost of treatment rangtes from $2,500 to $7,000 depending on where you live and hte severity of hte condition. This estimate would include MRI imaging and corrective surgery and post-operation therapy and rehabilitation.


Commonly Affected Breeds


Unfortunately some dog breeds are more susceptible to hemivertebrae than others. Here is a list of dog breeds more affected by hemivertebrae.

Boston Terrier
English Bulldog
French Bulldog
German Shepherd
German Shorthaired Pointer

Learn More: Find Your Dog's Breed Here


Other Spine Issues in Dogs


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