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Brain Tumors in Dogs

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Jessie, your favorite canine friend: I have a headache today.  The weather is quirky.  My sinuses are killing me.  My head is just pounding.  What gives?  I hope it’s not a tumor! (I worry too much! Part of my charm!) Maybe the cause of my headache is that darned cat, Bo.  He provides his share of aches and pains on my end.  I guess I just need to take a nap and sleep this one off, but before I do, did you know that brain tumors occur more frequently in dogs than in people?  They are about 10 times more prevalent in dogs than in humans.  Thankfully, many such brain tumors can be successfully controlled so that the dog can continue to lead a quality life.

What are the symptoms of a brain tumor in dogs?  They do vary, depending upon the location and size.  They can cause seizures, weakness on one side of the body, a loss of appetite, and changes in behavior that are sudden.

The main way to determine if a dog’s symptoms are related to a brain tumor is through a CT scan or an MRI.  If a suspicious mass is seen and your vet believes it is a tumor, he will need to conduct futher tests to see what course of treatment is in the best interest of the pet…and for you, as the dog’s owner.

Typically, if a tumor is present, surgery is performed to remove it. Leaving it untreated can prove to be fatal.  The benefits of treatment include pain relief, better neurological function, and  a greater quality of life.  Your dog may have increased energy and be far more alert than before.  Other treatment options include radiation directly administered to the tumor; chemotherapy delivered orally, through an IV, or directly into the brain; gene therapy to the tumor site; and anti-cancer vaccines, referred to as immunotherapy.

While I know we cannot permanently remove the “tumor” of Bo from our residence, I suppose I will just have to make do with his obnoxious presence.  Besides, he is good for some things.  When fast asleep, he makes a good door stop.  Also, I like to toy with him and relocate his litter box from time to time.  That is so funny when he REALLY has to go!

(Information for this post was obtained from a brochure on canine brain tumors from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.)


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