While we’re probably sure that most folks have no idea what the medical condition known as sacrocaudal dysgenesis is, we’re even more confident that if you don’t own a “tailless dog,” there is probably zero chance of you knowing what this medical condition is.
And why should you…
After all, Sacrocaudal Dysgenisis is a medical condition found in tailless breeds. And while it can occur in cats and dogs, the cause for the state is pretty much the same, so throughout this article, we won’t make much of a distinction about whether or not we’re talking about a cat or a dog.
The reason for this is…
Because the affected pet has no tail formation, it prevents the spine from being able to naturally “balance itself” out. And while it’s hard to deny that some of these tailless breeds are super cute, the development of sacrocaudal dysgenesis is another example of how human interference and selective breeding have caused malformations in our pets.
In this case, an underdeveloped area of the spine can lead to a lifetime of dangerous incontinence for your dog. But that’s not all you see; four main conditions can arise from breeding tailless animals. The first is Hemivertebrae, the second is Spina Bifida, the third is Sacrocaudal Agenisis, and the last is Sacrocaudal Dysgenesis, which we will look at today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at this horrible (and artificial) disease and find out what it is, where it comes from, and if there is anything we can do to correct it to avoid further damage to our beloved pets.
What is Sacrocaudal dysgenesis?
Sacrocaudal Dysgenesis is what your pet ends up with when the Sacrocaudal vertebrae of the spine have not formed correctly. This happens because the dog has no tail and therefore does not have the usual bone and tissue matter that help support the body’s hind section. The spinal cord in these tailless dogs and cats then becomes twisted to compensate or grow with extra bone or malformation. This condition is particularly prevalent in the tailless Manx cat.
Now where this…
The Problem starts to cause trouble in your dog or cat’s rear end. His hindquarters, flanks, and hind legs can all be put at risk. Clinical signs of this condition can include:
- Urinary incontinence or fecal incontinence,
- A drooping back end.’
- And other not-very pleasant symptoms.
This condition can be treated, managed and has barely any terrible side effects. When you mix it with a neurological defect, however, you have a pet that is likely to be incontinent for life. And what might surprise you is that this incontinence can prove fatal. Just like a human, a dog that does not know that it needs to go to the toilet can get into all sorts of trouble when it gets constipated. Too much backing up and the poor dog will need to be put to sleep, so it is essential to regularly monitor your dog’s bowel movements if they have been diagnosed with this condition.
Dogs suffering from Caudal Regression Syndrome suffer from problems around the lower end of the spine. It is thought that Caudal Regression causes the spine to become malformed while it is still in the womb. In a dog with a fully functioning tail, you tend not to find this problem, making it specific to these breeds and, therefore, thankfully, rare.
This disease affects…
The spine area below the Lumbosacral region, where the nerve roots attach to the spinal cord. This might go some way to explaining the pup’s incontinence once this condition has taken hold. There is hope, even though the outcome looks bleak. One only needs to look at the story of Bonsai, the puppy, to see that recovery from this condition is possible; it is just a long and slow process that is care intensive and requires a committed owner.
Most Commonly Affected Breeds
Any breed born without a tail or has had its tail docked in early life is at risk from this condition. Although the cruel practice of tail docking has been banned in most countries, it still exists. Your dog will have it from puppyhood, but it might never get diagnosed if they don’t have the accompanying mental problems. That being said, here is the list of breeds that we know are at risk from this condition:
Interestingly, because of its strong association with the Manx Cat, it is also sometimes known as ‘Manx Disorder’.
If your pet has the benign form of this disease, then you might never notice anything wrong with them, though they may have an increased tendency to have little accidents in the house when they are older. There is no treatment if your pet has both forms of this condition. Therapies can ease suffering and build muscle strength; adaptive carts can help your pet get around. Unfortunately, the incontinence is so severe that many pet owners will have their dogs euthanized to save the stress. It is unpleasant, leaves your poor pup in pain, and makes a terrible mess of the house.
The only way we know to prevent it is to stop breeding tailless animals – particularly if the animal in question was given a tail before birth. If it doesn’t have one, that’s fine – but for goodness sake, don’t lop it off to make your pet ‘look cooler’… that is just about the lowest form of cruelty. And while this condition cannot be treated, your vet will be able to make your pet’s short stay on Earth bearable with soothing treatments and possibly topical creams to ease any present rashes.
The problem is…
Many of these treatments can be pricey, especially when you know you won’t be able to hold on to the animal, no matter what you do. This is why it is essential to work with a reputable breeder who can give you a complete medical history of your new pet’s parents and guarantee the health of all their animals.
Which makes our job…
A bit more challenging to see how we would love to recommend that folks also purchase a pet insurance policy to ensure that if their animal does need treatment to manage any issues they may develop as a result of having Sacrocaudal Dysgenesis, the truth is, this will likely be considered a pre-existing condition which a pet insurance policy would not cover.
For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies and what medical conditions they will and won’t cover, we encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.