Symptoms of Brain Tumors in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Brain Tumors

How Brain Tumors Affect Dogs

It is hard to say, generally or specifically, how brain tumors affect any given animal. The symptoms that they experience will depend upon the location of the mass, its size and its aggressiveness. Certainly, depending upon those things, dogs may experience any range of effects, from none to extreme pain and distress. Unfortunately, the outcome for a dog with either a benign or a malignant brain tumor is not all that different in most cases… The effects of the tumor are caused by the space-occupying mass, no matter where it comes from.

Symptoms of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors, depending upon their location, size, aggressiveness and type, can cause any number of clinical signs in dogs and in other mammals. These can come on slowly (be insidious) or come on suddenly (acutely). They may include:

  • Seizures (seizures are the most commonly recognized sign of brain tumors in dogs and cats, especially after they reach 5 years of age)
  • Blindness or vision deficits
  • Abnormal ocular (eye) reflexes
  • Head rotation
  • Head tilt
  • Circling
  • Abnormal behavior and mentation, especially unusual aggression
  • Lack of coordination (ataxia)
  • Abnormal gait
  • Abnormal stance
  • Lack of appetite (inappetence; anorexia)
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Nose bleeds (epistaxis)
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Panting (open mouth breathing)

Dogs at Increased Risk

Dogs seem to have a higher incidence of brain tumors than do most other domestic species. The reason for this association is not well understood. Brachycephalic breeds (those with broad top skulls, short-to-nonexistent muzzles and flat faces) are predisposed to developing glial cell tumors and pituitary tumors, which are two specific types of brain tumors. Scottish Terriers, Old English Sheepdogs, Boston Terriers, English Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Boxers and Doberman Pinschers seem to be overrepresented among the population of domestic dogs that develop brain tumors. While tumors in the brain can occur in dogs of any age, older dogs are more likely to present with brain tumors – typically dogs over 5 years of age.

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