Brain Tumor Symptoms in Dogs

By Naomi Millburn

If your dog has a brain tumor, you might notice symptoms such as loss of energy, loss of coordination and feebleness. Cancer that involves the brain is a common condition in elderly dogs. If you spot these or a few other symptoms of a brain tumor in your pet, take him to the veterinarian immediately for an evaluation.

Kinds of Brain Tumors

Various kinds of brain tumors exist in dogs. Meningiomas are the most common of canine brain tumors. These tumors begin at the membrane that coats the brain -- the meninges. Meningiomas tend to expand slowly; they generally respond well to treatment.

Choroid plexus papillomas, gliomas, adenocarcinomas and pituitary adenomas are all also commonly seen tumors in dogs. Choroid plexus papillomas are usually situated in dogs' fourth ventricles. Gliomas hail from the supportive tissue of dogs' brains. Adenocarcinomas are generally located in dogs' frontal and nasal sinuses. Pituitary adenomas are in the pituitary glands in the rear sections of canines' brains.

Vulnerable Dogs

Brain tumors are believed to be more prevalent in canines than in other types of household pets. Canines 5 years old or older are more vulnerable to brain tumors than their younger counterparts. Dogs of some breed types are particularly prone to certain brain tumors.

Dogs of brachycephalic breeds are more prone to developing pituitary gland tumors. Brachycephalic dogs -- Pekingese, pugs and French bulldogs are all examples -- are noted for their flat faces and short, small noses.

Dolichocephalic breeds, on the other hand, are more prone to developing meningiomas. Dolichocephalic dogs -- German shepherds, collies and greyhounds are examples -- have lengthy muzzles, in stark contrast to brachycephalic dogs.

Brain tumors in general are especially numerous in Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Boston terriers, Doberman pinschers, English bulldogs, Old English sheepdogs, Scottish terriers, boxers and mixed breeds. Female and male dogs seem to be equally affected.

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of brain tumors in dogs are diverse. They vary based on how big they are and where exactly they are in the brain. Some of them appear quickly and seemingly out of nowhere, while others are much more gradual in their presentation. Some common symptoms of brain tumors in canines are tilting of the head, head rotation, vision problems, blindness, problems walking, disorientation, heightened pain sensitivity on the neck, decreased coordination, reduced appetite, nosebleeds, circling, sneezing, trouble breathing, panting, uncharacteristic aggressive behavior, depression and atypical eye reflexes.

Seizures, however, are the most typical sign of brain tumors in canines. If a dog experiences seizures that started after age 5, brain tumors could be the cause.

Veterinary Management

If you notice any signs of a brain tumor in your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately to schedule an appointment. The majority of brain tumors in dogs cannot be cured. They can, however, generally be treated.

Dogs whose brain tumors were not diagnosed early often survive for short periods of time. Proper treatment, however, can sometimes tack a few years onto an affected dog's life span. Treatment options for dogs with brain tumors include radiation therapy, surgical extraction, chemotherapy and palliative care. Palliative management focuses on alleviating symptoms and suffering rather than curing the actual condition.