Any dog can develop a brain tumour, but adult dogs entering their later years are more likely to develop a brain tumour than young dogs. A brain tumour can consist of brain cells that have developed abnormally and clustered together to form a mass, or it can consist of abnormal cells that have spread to the brain from another part of the body. A tumour consisting of brain cells may or may not be cancerous, while a tumour that is made up of abnormal cells from elsewhere in the body is often cancerous. The cause of brain tumours in dogs is still not fully understood, but genetic, environmental, and dietary factors are thought to play a role. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for brain tumours in dogs:
Common symptoms of a brain tumour include seizures, loss of coordination and an unsteady gait. Your dog's behaviour may also change and they may become aggressive, hypersensitive to touch, or withdraw from play and social interaction. Some dog's also start urinating and defecating inappropriately and experience lethargy and loss of appetite.
Diagnosis And Treatment Approach
Your vet will make their diagnosis by taking details of your dog's symptoms and testing your dog's blood for signs of infection or raised inflammatory markers. Your dog will also undergo diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan or MRI, to establish the size and exact location of the tumour and determine if the tumour is a result of cancerous cells spreading from another part of your dog's body.
Your vet will recommend a treatment approach based on the findings of the diagnostic imaging your dog has undergone. Complete or partial surgical removal of the tumour is the preferred method of treatment, but this is not always possible if the tumour would be hard to reach without risking damage to surrounding brain tissue. A skilled veterinary surgeon will have to examine the circumstances to decide if surgery is the best option. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be appropriate to shrink the tumour, which can bring some relief from troublesome symptoms, and to stop the tumour growing or spreading into surrounding tissue. Your vet may also prescribe medication to manage your dog's seizures and may recommend a change in diet to support immune health and build your dog's strength up. During and after treatment your dog will have regular appointments with your vet to ensure treatment is working and that there's no recurrence or new growth of abnormal cells.
If your dog has symptoms associated with a brain tumour, have them examined by your vet as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary suffering and to give them the best chance of recovering.