Brain tumours in Dogs

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
September 28, 2021

A brain tumour is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. About half of brain tumours in dogs originate in the brain. These are called primary tumours. Secondary tumours are caused by the spread of cancer from another body location to the brain.

Tumours of any kind can cause brain injury from compression, inflammation, infiltration, and oedema.

What are common brain tumour signs in dogs?

Early signs include:

  • Behaviour changes
  • Listlessness
  • Altered sense of smell

Intermediate or advanced signs include:

  • Gait ataxia (walking incoordination)
  • Head tilt
  • Head pressing
  • Walking in circles
  • Vision loss
  • Seizures

Head tilt could be a sign of brain tumour in dogs.

How are brain tumours managed in dogs? 

Management depends on the brain tumour type, location, signs, and treatment cost. Pet palliative care focuses on keeping your dog comfortable with medications to reduce brain inflammation, minimise seizures, and control pain. Definitive care involves surgical removal of a primary tumour, and/or radiation. 

Chemotherapy is usually ineffective for primary brain tumours, but research on different treatment modalities is ongoing. Discussing a personalised management plan with your vet and veterinary oncologist is important for the best outcome for your dog.

What is the prognosis for dogs?

Your dog’s prognosis depends on whether the brain tumour is primary or secondary, and the severity of clinical signs. 

For a primary brain tumour, survival may be between three to six months with only palliative care, or 5 to 28 months with radiation and/or surgery. Unfortunately, dogs with secondary brain tumours usually do not survive for more than a month.

Management tips for a dog with a brain tumour 

At-home needs include:

  • Consistency with medications
  • Easy access to food, water, and a comfortable location
  • Prescription diets and supplements that promote brain function
  • Separation from other animals, to avoid altercations or injury
  • Caution with handling, and avoiding sudden movements
  • Modified surfaces to increase traction
  • Night lights, ramps or stairs, and safety gates

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog suddenly collapses, has uncontrollable seizures, experiences difficulty breathing, behaves aggressively, or vocalises in pain.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

At Goodbye Good Boy, we provide home euthanasia services to support loving owners in providing a peaceful passing for their beloved pets.

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give our team of passionate pet lovers a call on 1800 953 619.

This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.