Brain tumor is a common medical condition that occurs mostly in middle-aged and old-aged dogs. However, it may affect younger ones too. This article provides some information regarding this issue.
Dog breeds which have been studied to be more susceptible to brain tumors are: golden retrievers, Doberman pinschers, Scottish terriers, boxers, Boston terriers, and old English sheepdogs. Commonly diagnosed types of this ailment in dogs include astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and meningiomas. Some tumors tend to develop directly from the brain tissues, while there are some which spread to the brain through the bloodstream. Causal factors have not been identified yet. However, conditions involving diet, environment, genetic factors, viral factors, immunological parameters, and trauma may contribute to this problem. Tumors may develop in any part of the brain, and the occurrence of the symptoms may be gradual or abrupt by nature. These indications may be mild or extreme, and involve physical and psychological changes in the animal.
They mainly include reduced appetite, difficulty in swallowing, excessive thirst, gradual loss of trained habits, and reduced level of activity. Some cases may also involve abnormal changes in gait and constant falls due to loss of balance. Difficulty in jumping and climbing, developing hypersensitivity, difficulties regarding eyesight, facial paralysis, tilting of head, vomiting, seizures, and tremors, are other symptoms that may occur. Pressing the face against a hard surface, and weakness on one side of the body, are some of the other indications which also may be evident.
They are also related to certain psychological and behavioral changes like irritability, compulsions in eating and barking, depression, confusion, and disorientation. In some cases, it has also been observed that aggressive dogs become docile, and vice versa. This is known as personality reversal in animals.
It mainly involves methods for getting rid of the neoplasm for good, or slowing down its growth. Surgery is an option depending upon the nature of the brain tumor, its extent, location, size, and severity. However, for certain locations like the brainstem (the part of the brain continuous with the spinal cord and comprising the medulla oblongata, pons, midbrain, and parts of the hypothalamus), surgery is not considered as it harbors the risk of causing death.
Radiotherapy is the most widely used and preferred treatment method for this disease in dogs. It may be used as a lone treatment, or in combination with other treatment methods. Its benefit involves the elimination of tumors without causing much harm to the normal brain tissues.
Chemotherapy is also available as a treatment for this condition. However, it yields successful results, only when the administered drugs have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Only high doses of medications are generally effective for treatment. But, such doses may be toxic for the normal brain tissues. However, with medical advancement, many drugs have evolved which can cross the blood-brain barrier and help in getting rid of this neoplasm.
Your affected pet might not show any symptoms as mentioned above, until a few years. This is because, brain tumors have a slow growth rate, and hence, do not manifest themselves easily through any such signs. So, it is obvious that by the time the symptoms start appearing, the tumors might have already crossed their first stage. Thus, it becomes extremely important for people to take their pets to a vet, as soon as they notice any of the above-mentioned signs or symptoms.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a professional veterinarian.