Tumors of the central nervous system mostly develop inside the brain. Still, the condition is rare and mostly occurs in older dogs. The condition is generally difficult to treat, but new combinations of different therapies can increase the life expectancy in affected dogs.
Symptoms can develop slowly or quickly. Usually with primary brain tumors they develop slowly. But, symptoms do appear acutely (quickly) in cases where other tumors have metastasized to the brain. Depending upon the location of the tumor it may cause various changes in behavior. What exactly are the symptoms of a brain tumor? Well, here we will describe a few symptoms in the following paragraphs. One possible symptom is aggression, which is often the first noticeable symptom of a brain tumor, and is mostly due to its location inside the brain. While increased aggression is not always present, due to a brain tumor, an otherwise harmless dog may suddenly become vicious. If the dog is acting aggressively, one must observe the dog carefully, as aggression may be present exclusively, or be related to other conditions. It can be result from improper training, pain, or external pressure against a sore spot of his body. Along with aggression, a brain tumor may also cause symptoms such as increased sleeping or lethargy. And, in later phases of the condition restlessness and anxiety can develop. As far as other common symptoms are concerned, fits of cramping are often the first complaints associated with a brain tumor. However, cramping alone does not call for a diagnosis of a brain tumor, as this can be a symptom of epilepsy and a number of other disorders. In the case of cramping, in later phases of brain tumor growth, the fits grow in intensity and can turn into heavy epileptiform attacks. Impaired coordination and impaired vision, enough to cause blindness, are also commonly seen. In very dramatic cases or advanced stages of the condition further symptoms such as disorientation -- where the dog does not react upon acoustic stimuli, forced forward movement – where the dog continues to move forward regardless of obstacles, similar to a machine, or loss of consciousness can develop.
The causes of a brain tumor remain mostly unknown.
Diagnosis of a brain tumor is complicated, as each of the symptoms mentioned in the symptoms section may also be part of a different condition. For example, fits of cramping can be from epilepsy, and aggression can be the result of poor training. A definite diagnosis cannot be completed by looking at symptoms alone. A thorough clinical examination is necessary to rule out other conditions or, in the case that the tumor is a metastatic, the primary tumor needs to be located. Along with x-rays and blood samples, examination of the brain through CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can be performed. Treatment is aimed at removing the tumor and/or relieving the symptoms. For removal, surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy may be chosen. A surgical approach requires optimal conditions. The life expectancy may be increased through treatment, while full recovery is occasionally achieved. Treatment with radiation has better prospects and is less invasive, however the type of tumor needs to be known. Treatment of symptoms is usually limited to the administration of corticosteroids and reliving cramping fits. A combination of different techniques (i.e. surgery and radiation) is usually the most promising approach. Nonetheless, the life expectancy of the patient cannot be insured to increase with medical treatment alone. A detailed and thorough prognosis can only be stated by a specialist after an evaluation of a computer tomography.
Most symptoms of a brain tumor require immediate medical attention. If your dog is suffering from a brain tumor, please look into all treatment options with your vet.