Brain Tumours in Dogs

The brain of both humans and animals is a complicated and delicate organ. Unfortunately, our understanding of the intricacies of this structure is still relatively limited and when the brain is plagued by cancer, this ignorance becomes even more exasperating because the root cause of and definitive cure for brain cancer and tumours remain uncertain.

What are Brain Tumours?
A tumour is as an uncharacteristic growth of cells that can be categorised as either primary or secondary. A primary tumour is one which originates within the brain itself, while in the case of a secondary tumour, the cancer is spread to the brain from another part of the body in a process otherwise known as metastasis.

Causes of Brain Tumours
Research into the causes of this condition has yielded inconclusive results however; some studies have shown that various breeds are prone to developing tumours in different biological origins. Meningiomas are brain tumours originating from membranes covering the brain. These tumors are more likely to be found in dolichocephalic breeds of dogs, which have long, slender heads and snouts, such as Collies.  Contrarily, gliomas, which are tumours that develop in the interstitial tissue of the central nervous system, are more frequently identified in brachycephalic breeds of dogs, which have short-noses and flat-faces such as Boston Terriers, Pit Bull Terriers and Boxers. While it is possible for a canine to be diagnosed with a tumour at any age, a greater incidence has been observed in dogs over 5 years old.

Various genetic, chemical, immune system, dietary and environmental influences are considered to play a part in the cause thereof, but again, the results are uncertain.

Symptoms
The primary symptom of brain tumours in dogs is the onset of seizures. Other clinical signs may also begin to emerge either gradually or rapidly depending on the location, type, aggressiveness and size of the tumour. These symptoms include:

  • unsteady gait or ‘drunken’ walking
  • issues with vision and/or blindness
  • weakness and lethargy
  • uncharacteristic behaviour such as aggression
  • difficulty in breathing or dyspnea
  • open mouth breathing or panting
  • hypersensitivity to the neck area
  • loss of appetite or anorexia
  • nose bleeds
  • lack of coordination in movement
  • inappropriate urination
  • head rotation and circling
  • sneezing

Diagnosis
A veterinarian would most likely initiate the diagnostic procedure by conducting a physical examination of the dog, which could be followed by complete blood work, X-rays and a MRI and CT scan to examine the extent to which the disease has spread within the body.

Treatment
If the severity of symptoms is extensive, a vet may opt for emergency treatment first. There are three major treatment options available currently which include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Each of these options will be utilised depending upon individual cases to either remove the tumour or reduce its size as well as manage associated secondary effects such as fluid accumulation on the brain.

It’s best to include a reputable veterinary oncologist and neurologist as part of your pets consultations to best weigh up your treatment options. Some pet parents may devastatingly reserve euthanasia as a last resort to ease and alleviate the suffering of their fur child if the cancer is too advanced. A vet may also design a medical management plan to address seizures and prescribe steroids to reduce swelling of the brain.

Management
Remember, that your pup needs you now, more than ever and you need to vigilant in managing this condition. Frequent communication and physical examinations with your veterinarian, oncologist or neurologist as well as additional CT and MRI scans, are essential for pooches with brain tumours. It’s vital to consistently observe your pup for any associated or escalating problems such as an increase in the occurrence of seizures experienced.

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

 

Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.

 

 

——————————————————————————————

Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.