Hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain) in Dogs

Definition of Hydrocephalus (Water On The Brain)

Hydrocephalus, also called “water on the brain,” is a condition characterized by abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, inside the brain. Hydrocephalus usually is congenital, which means that puppies are born with it. Occasionally, dogs get hydrocephalus from head trauma, brain hemorrhage, Vitamin A deficiency, brain tumors or exposure to drugs, chemicals, bacteria, viruses or other toxins. Normally, the volume of CSF is carefully regulated by complex neurological mechanisms. CSF bathes the brain by flowing through a system of small chambers known as ventricles. When too much CSF is made or when the brain isn’t regulating it properly, fluid builds up in the ventricles, putting pressure on the brain. Some affected dogs show no symptoms of having this condition, although most eventually become uncomfortable, frightened and painful as the pressure inside their head keeps going up. Toy breeds with domed skulls – especially Chihuahuas – are predisposed to hydrocephalus.

Causes and Prevention of Hydrocephalus in Dogs

Canine hydrocephalus is almost always congenital, which means that the condition is present at birth. Accordingly, it is most commonly diagnosed in puppies. Hydrocephalus occasionally occurs in adult animals, but that is uncommon in domestic dogs. Several different classification schemes are used to characterize hydrocephalus in veterinary medicine. One distinguishes between two general types of the disorder: communicating hydrocephalus and non-communicating hydrocephalus. Communicating hydrocephalus is where the animal’s brain is not able to absorb a

Symptoms of Hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain) in Dogs

Dogs with hydrocephalus usually show symptoms of degenerative neurological disorders, which are referred to as “encephalopathies”. It is difficult to speculate as to how “water on the brain” actually makes an affected dog feel. However, we can extrapolate from what owners observe – and from what people with hydrocephalus report - that it is an uncomfortable, frightening, often painful and potentially life-threatening condition, especially when pressure inside the skull increases to dangerous levels.Owners of dogs

Diagnosing Hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain) in Dogs

Hydrocephalus itself is not especially difficult to diagnose, although it may require referral by the general practitioner to a specialized referral clinic or veterinary teaching hospital that has the appropriate diagnostic instruments. The dog’s presenting signs usually prompt a thorough neurological examination, after a history is taken from the owner and a routine physical examination is performed. Most veterinarians will take urine and blood samples as part of the initial data base. However, if hydrocephalus

Treatment and Prognosis for Hydrocephalus in Dogs

Theoretically, the goals of treating a dog with hydrocephalus are to decrease the amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) being produced, increase the amount of CSF being absorbed and/or shunt excess CSF to some other bodily cavity. The overriding practical goal is to relieve the build-up of pressure on nerves (neurons), blood vessels and other affected brain tissues. Unfortunately, given the current state of medical knowledge, it is difficult if not impossible to artificially increase the

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