Neurological diseases

Hydrocephalus in dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Prognosis And Treatment

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: July 8, 2019
Hydrocephalus in dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Prognosis And Treatment
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Hydrocephalus in dogs is not a common canine pathology, however, some dogs are more susceptible to it. Small breeds or brachycephalic dog breeds have a greater predisposition to suffering from this disease. If you notice any of these below mentioned symptoms of hydrocephalus in dogs, rapid and intensive veterinary treatment will be necessary.

For more about the symptoms, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of hydrocephalus in dogs, Keep reading here at AnimalWised.

  1. Hydrocephalus in dogs
  2. Hydrocephalus in dogs: symptoms
  3. Hydrocephalus in dogs: treatment
  4. Hydrocephalus in dogs: prognosis

Hydrocephalus in dogs

Hydrocephalus in dogs consists of the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in a dog’s cerebral ventricles. This condition causes them to increase in size and, thus, damages the cerebral cortex by compressing it against the skull’s bones. Most cases of hydrocephalus are congenital, but there are others which can be triggered by trauma, infections that affect the brain and tumors. In this case, we would refer to it as secondary hydrocephalus in dogs.

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to suffering from this disorder. Dogs breeds that are more prone to hydrocephalus in dogs include:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Pugs
  • Yorkshire terriers
  • Maltese dogs
  • Lhasa apsos
  • Pomeranians

In general, small, toy or brachycephalic dog breeds, due to the conformation of their heads, tend to be more susceptible to hydrocephalus. For example, hydrocephalus in french bulldogs is more common than in non brachycephalic breeds.

Hydrocephalus in puppies, even if congenital, may not manifest symptoms at first. However, in general, it will begin to show before six months.

For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss everything you need to know about brachycephalic dog breeds.

Hydrocephalus in dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Prognosis And Treatment - Hydrocephalus in dogs
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Hydrocephalus in dogs: symptoms

Hydrocephalus is more common in puppies than adults dogs, as it is a predominantly congenital condition. Therefore, if your puppy has a swollen head, it’s important that you are able to recognize additional signs of hydrocephalus in dogs. The most common symptoms of hydrocephalus in dogs include:

  • Convulsions
  • Hydrocephalus in dogs seizures
  • Enlargement of the cranial vault, which makes the head appear larger than normal
  • Open fontanelle
  • Partial or total blindness
  • Squinting
  • Alterations in behavior
  • Circling
  • Lack of coordination
  • Your dog presses its head against objects

In the most severe cases, the animal will appear stuporous and may even enter a coma.

It must be noted that the lack of closure of the fontanelles is not sufficient criterion for diagnosis. This is because in toy dog breeds it is not uncommon for the fontanelles to remain open. In addition, some of the above mentioned symptoms are common signs of other conditions, therefore, a veterinary diagnosis will be necessary.

In the following video by Ricardo Medina Bugarin we offer a visual reference to hydrocephalus in a Chihuahua dog, including its main symptoms.

Hydrocephalus in dogs: treatment

Hydrocephalus in dogs diagnosis can only be done by a veterinarian. This diagnosis will require a cranial radiographs, ventricle ultrasound, computed tomography or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The tests performed will vary on the patient and symptoms. Since hydrocephalus in dogs can be an acquired, the relevant tests must also be done to target an underlying cause.

Treatment of hydrocephaluys in dogs is generally aimed at controlling intracranial pressure, decreasing the production of cerebrospinal fluid and alleviating present symptoms. A dog needs to first be stabilized with the use of corticosteroids and diuretics. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to drain the fluid in the brain. It will also be necessary to schedule a veterinary follow-up.

Hydrocephalus in dogs: prognosis

Hydrocephalus in dogs life expectancy and prognosis will depend on the specific case. If a dog is offered veterinary assistance prior to brain damage, the prognosis will be favorable in the long term. Of course, dogs that recover from hydrocephalus can be left with sequelae. Many of these dogs will suffer coordination and learning problems. They will therefore be clumsier dogs, more difficult to train in terms of basic education.

There is no cure for dogs with congenital hydrocephalus, prognosis is more serious and many die while still puppies. In these such cases, treatment aims to alleviate symptoms and balance cerebrospinal fluid production.

Hydrocephalus in dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Prognosis And Treatment - Hydrocephalus in dogs: prognosis

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Hydrocephalus in dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Prognosis And Treatment, we recommend you visit our Neurological diseases category.

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Hydrocephalus in dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Prognosis And Treatment