Brain Tumors in Dogs

Brain Tumors in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Brain Tumors in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Brain Tumors?

A brain tumor is a serious condition caused by improper cell division in tissues associated with the brain. These cells are unable to receive the “stop growing” signal and continue to divide, forming masses that can replace or damage healthy brain tissue. Brain damage can cause abnormal behavior, weakness or lethargy, and difficulty moving. Only a veterinarian can properly identify and diagnose a brain tumor, so make an appointment as soon as possible if your pet exhibits unusual behavior or tremors.

A brain tumor is a malignant growth associated with one or more of the structures of the brain, classified by the type of cells in the tumor, the behavior, and any secondary changes seen in or around the tumor. Brain tumors may arise either from the neural tissue itself, or metastasize (spread) from associated muscle, bone or blood.
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Brain Tumors Average Cost

From 21 quotes ranging from $5,000 - $25,000

Average Cost

$12,000

Symptoms of Brain Tumors in Dogs

  • Tremors
  • Abnormal Behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vision loss or impairment
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Tissue necrosis
  • Abnormal hair loss/growth
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Causes of Brain Tumors in Dogs

  • Exposure to carcinogens, either acutely or over one’s lifetime
  • Genetic predisposition
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Diagnosis of Brain Tumors in Dogs

Brain tumors vary widely in the type of malignant growth, their location, size and rate of growth. The symptoms of a brain tumor will be determined by two factors: the part of the brain the tumor is damaging, and any other structures nearby. For example, it is not uncommon for bone tumors deep inside the nasal cavity to spread to the brain, causing persistent sneezing and bloody noses, or for brain tumors beneath the eye socket to press on the optic nerve and cause blindness or double vision. Thus, any abnormal behavior or unusual symptom such as bleeding from the nose should be reported promptly to a veterinarian, as this may be an early clue to a hidden illness.

There are many steps a veterinarian can take to successfully diagnose a brain tumor, beginning with a simple head x-ray. This procedure can easily be done in most clinics and thanks to digital imaging, can provide results immediately. However, plain-film x-rays do not always provide enough detail to properly identify or even visualize the tumor, especially if it is of a similar density to brain tissue. Therefore, if the x-ray turns up an inconclusive or negative result, a CT scan with contrast is usually the next choice. A CT scan is essentially a series of pictures taken via a rotating x-ray camera that are re-assembled into a 3D image. To better distinguish the potential tumor from the surrounding tissue, a special dye will be injected using an IV. This dye often causes a sensation of tingling warmth, but is not painful and will not harm your pet.

Another diagnostic tool that may be used is the MRI. MRI technology using magnetic pulses to image the interior of the body, and is better for diagnosing tumors composed exclusively of soft tissue. These machines can be somewhat loud or intimidating, but owners may be allowed to accompany and comfort their pet.

Finally, when the tumor is confirmed and located, one or both of the following may be necessary. First, if the tumor is accessible to surgeons, a biopsy (small sample of tissue) will be taken for testing to identify the tumor. If the tumor is not accessible, or additional information is required, blood or cerebrospinal fluid may be taken for testing, as immunological markers may be present that will identify the tumor.

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Treatment of Brain Tumors in Dogs

The treatment for a brain tumor will vary widely based on the nature and location of the tumor, the size and how early it was diagnosed. In general, an accessible tumor will be removed surgically, along with radiation or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy with Cobalt-60 has shown significant increases in survival rates compared to surgery alone.

An inaccessible tumor cannot be treated surgically, and so chemotherapy/radiation may be employed. Steroids to reduce swelling and anticonvulsants to stop seizures may also be used to minimize symptoms and provide the dog with some comfort, but this is usually to ease the passing of the animal, and is not a cure.

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Worried about the cost of Brain Tumors treatment?

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Recovery of Brain Tumors in Dogs

In general, outlook for dogs with brain tumors is guarded or poor. Well-defined, single brain tumors that have not grown to excessive size and may be accessed surgically have the best chance of a successful outcome. Tumors in groups or inaccessible to surgeons have the poorest prognosis. Radiation therapy can be used to extend a dog’s life over a few additional months, but is not usually a cure. Palliative treatment to make a dog more comfortable is often given, including steroids, anticonvulsants, and painkillers.

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Brain Tumors Average Cost

From 21 quotes ranging from $5,000 - $25,000

Average Cost

$12,000

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Brain Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Magic

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German Shepherd

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8 Years

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Has Symptoms

Panting
Tired
Confusion
Stumbling

Hi, my dog Magic has recently started to act very tired all the time. He would occasionally yelp whenever he would stand up. And then he would just start walking around and bumping against walls and occasionally almost falling over. I took him to the my veterinarian and he said that he has a fever and prescribed Magic some steroids and antibiotics. Today is the first day of me giving him those, so I’m sure not much has changed, however he laid in one spot for about 6 hours and currently he is just walking around and putting his head in corners. Again, occasionally stumbling and almost falling over. He also would shake his head back and forward for about 2 seconds and then stop. My vet didn’t say anything about a brain tumor, he only said fever. Could these symptoms be caused by just a fever or should I have him looked at more closely?

Aug. 14, 2018

Magic's Owner


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Head pressing or staring at corners is a concerning symptom which may be caused by a few different neurological conditions, if this wasn’t discuss with your Veterinarian yesterday you should call them to add this symptom to the list to keep your Veterinarian informed. One day of treatment is unlikely going to show any improvement and it may take a few days or a week before an improvement is seen. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 14, 2018

Okay, I called and let him know. He said just to give it time and let the medicine do it’s job and if he doesn’t improve to bring him back in

Aug. 14, 2018

Magic's Owner

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Dexter

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Mix lab-pitbull

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7 Years

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Has Symptoms

Seizures

My dog started having seizures just before he hit 7 years. He has always been in puppy stage and he still is. First two seizures were 6 months ago within 24 hours. Then he had two more over the six month course. I understand he is in the gray zone by the age, epilepsy vs tumor. I’m trying to schedule an MRI for him as not knowing is killing me. Could dogs be just normal for 6-7 months between seizures if it’s brain tumor? His last doctor visit last week was all normal except for two seizures in a week. Thank you!!!

June 18, 2018

Dexter's Owner

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0 Recommendations

The brain is still considered a mystery for medicine and doesn’t always follow a logical pattern; but generally we would to see seizures more often in cases of brain tumours, but not always which is why it is important to have an MRI scan done to confirm whether there is a tumour (or other pathology present). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 19, 2018

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Brain Tumors Average Cost

From 21 quotes ranging from $5,000 - $25,000

Average Cost

$12,000

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