A condition that is not very common in dogs, but when present it can cause major issues for the patient if it is left untreated. In this article, we will learn a little bit about what hydrocephalus in dogs is, and how vets can diagnose and treat it.
What is hydrocephalus and is it serious in dogs?
Hydrocephalus is a term that is used to describe an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain cavities. CSF is the fluid that flows in the spinal cord and the brain and helps in delivering all of the nutrients that are needed for the normal function of the nervous system.
There are different reasons why hydrocephalus can develop in dogs, but the most common one is some form of development issue during the intrauterine growth of the pups. This is why the most common form that is seen in dogs is congenital hydrocephalus, which means that it is present shortly after birth. The most common reasons for this type are:
-prenatal vitamin deficiency
-an infection that occurred before the birth
-brain hemorrhage as a result of a difficult birth
The other type of hydrocephalus is known as acquired. This means that the dog had a normal brain but due to changes, it developed obstruction of the normal flow of CSF. the most common causes are:
Dogs that have hydrocephalus usually have an underdeveloped brain that is due to the present pressure of fluid retention, which does not allow for the brain to grow normally. This can lead to serious neurological problems and in some cases death.
What symptoms do dogs with hydrocephalus show?
Surprisingly, some dogs do not show any signs of hydrocephalus, but in general, they will depend on the severity and the location of the damage in the brain. Owners usually report their dogs to lack the desire to run and play and when they do, they are slow at picking up the signals. They may have seizures or difficulty using their eyes. Some dogs have changes in their skull, which is due to the presence of the hydrocephalus and they show signs of behavioral issues.
How do vets diagnose hydrocephalus in dogs?
Changes in the skull, if present, are very easy to see. But anyhow every vet will first take the history from the owner and then perform a physical examination. To properly diagnose hydrocephalus and exclude other possibilities such as a tumor.
An X-ray is a tool that helps the vets see if there are changes in the bone structures that might have led to hydrocephalus.
Ct and MRI are the golden standards when it comes to diagnosing changes in nerve tissue. They usually give important information about the exact location and changes that might have happened as a result of the CSF retention.
Treatment options for dogs with hydrocephalus
Unfortunately not every patient will return to their normal self after the surgery. The purpose is to determine the cause of hydrocephalus and treat it. This will certainly help the dog live a more normal life. However, if the dog is having seizures and is not able to function normally, every owner should consider euthanasia.
The complex procedure for treatment does not guarantee success, but the owner would be expected to pay between $5000 and $10000.