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Symptoms of brain tumours in dogs

Brown dog sleeping advice
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A brain tumour is an abnormal growth of cells. Depending on its type, vets can determine the damage. Likewise, brain tumours in dogs are common

By Daniel Mar

Dogs can suffer from brain cancer. Unfortunately, brain tumours are relatively common in older pets. According to Dr Becker, “Brain tumours in animals vary a great deal in terms of their level of malignancy, and some can be treated effectively”. Also, there is several genetic information that makes them more prone to getting a specific type of brain tumour. For example, Brachycephalic breeds often get pituitary tumours. It is important to know about a brain tumour in dogs to understand how to deal with this disease.

The basics about a brain tumour in dogs

Brain tumours are more common in dogs than in any other house pet. Dogs are affected by primary or secondary brain tumours. According to the volume and nature of the abnormal growth of cells, vets determine the degree of aggression displayed by a tumour.

When it comes to primary brain tumours, cancer originates from the cells of the brain and its membranes. Most common types of primary tumours are: meningioma, glioma, choroid plexus papilloma, and pituitary adenoma. Furthermore, a secondary tumour is cancer that metastasized to the brain. It can also be a tumour located in a non-nervous system location (like a bone) which has extended into brain tissue. Common examples of secondary brain tumours include: hemangiosarcoma, mammary carcinoma, and melanoma.

If a dog has a secondary brain tumour, it is advisable to discuss when to euthanize a dog with brain tumour. This type of brain tumour has a very poor prognosis since it has already spread through the body.

Symptoms of a brain tumour in dogs

There are plenty of symptoms of brain tumours in dogs. The action of a mass (which is compressing or invading the brain) causes them. Usually, the symptoms start off mild and become severe in time. On rare occasions, symptoms can start all of the sudden.

Symptoms tend to vary depending on which area of the brain the tumour harms. Furthermore, among the most common symptoms of brain tumours in dogs you can find:

  • Behavioural changes
  • Increase or decrease in thirst/hunger
  • Constant pacing
  • Chronic pain
  • Decreased awareness
  • Seizures
  • Loss of balance
  • Unsteady gait
  • Weakness
  • Head tilting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Change in the bark

In extreme cases, brain tumours in dogs can affect the brainstem or the cerebellum. This will make your dog experience paralysis, lack of coordination, head tremors and coma.

Diagnosing brain tumour in dogs

Usually, a veterinarian needs to perform a tissue biopsy to diagnose brain tumours in dogs. Likewise, vets use other imaging tests such as radiographs (x-rays) or ultrasound to locate tumours in other parts of the body. Lastly, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) of the brain is mandatory.

Treatment options for a brain tumour in dogs

The traditional treatment for this disease is what you might expect. Learn about the use of each of these methods:

  1. Surgery: It is used when it is possible to remove an entire tumour. Sadly, this is not always the case.
  2. Radiation therapy: It is used to slow the progression of brain tumours in dogs. However, your pet must be healthy enough to undergo general anaesthesia. In some cases, when the mass is large, the majority of it is surgically removed to relieve pressure. Then, a session of radiation quickly follows.
  3. Chemotherapy: This isn’t a common course of treatment for brain tumours. There is a blood-brain barrier that limits the effectiveness of chemo. Nonetheless, there are a few chemo drugs that can cross it. Still, chemotherapeutic agents have side effects that can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, vets don’t recommend chemotherapy for dogs that have brain tumours.
  4. Palliative treatment for a brain tumour: Its objective is to alleviate the animal’s symptoms when the disease is terminal. Lastly, vets recommend it when the pet is seizing.

Fortunately, brain tumours in dogs can be treated. Furthermore, if your dog is going through this difficult situation, you need to be prepared. Brain tumours can be very aggressive and deathly.