No pet owner wants to hear that their beloved companion has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The good news, however, is that this frightening problem is one that we don’t see very often. And, thanks to today’s cutting-edge veterinary technology, many of the brain tumors that are diagnosed in pets are treatable. 

In the event it is determined that your pet has a brain tumor, gathering information is essential for making the best decision for your pet’s treatment and long term health.

Your team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is here to help you navigate the many questions that may arise with a brain tumor diagnosis and the treatment options that are available.

A Closer Look

By definition, a tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that results in a mass. In pets, there are two types of tumors that occur in the brain:

  • Primary brain tumor – Originates from cells in the brain or its surrounding membranes.

The meningioma, a tumor originating in the membranes that surround the brain or spinal cord, is the most common type of primary brain tumor in dogs and cats. Meningiomas are usually benign (non-cancerous), and don’t tend to spread to other bodily tissues. The main problem with meningiomas is that as they grow, they lead to compression of the brain and damage to the spinal cord.

  • Secondary brain tumor – Originates either from a cancerous tumor outside the brain and spreads to the brain (metastasis), or extends into the brain from a tumor in a nearby place, such as the nasal cavity. These tumors are serious because they are likely to have spread to other parts of the body. 

Symptoms of Brain Tumors In Pets

Brain tumors typically occur in older pets, with dogs age 7 and older, and cats age 10 or older at higher risk. Common symptoms of brain tumors include:

  • Seizure (especially, when occurring for the first time in an older pet)
  • Abnormal behavior (such as increased aggression, listlessness, agitation, etc.)
  • Showing pain or hypersensitivity when touched in the neck area
  • Vision problems
  • Walking in circles (as in “drunk walking”)
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Paralysis

Diagnosis And Treatment

Diagnosis of a brain tumor begins with a thorough physical and neurological exam by our veterinarian. The veterinarian may also perform a blood analysis to further assess the pet’s overall health.

To determine the presence and location of a tumor, the pet’s brain will need to be imaged, either by MRI or CT scan. In addition, ultrasound or X-rays may be performed to determine whether or not the tumor originated elsewhere in the pet’s` body.

Depending on the size, location, and type of tumor, it may be treated with medication to reduce swelling and/or pain, as well as radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy. With proper treatment, many pets are able to go on and live happy, normal lives for many months or years.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment for your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us.