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Brain Tumors in Dogs



There are three primary treatment options for for dogs that have been diagnosed with brain tumors: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The major objectives of these therapies are to eradicate, or reduce the size of, the tumor and to control secondary effects such as fluid build-up in the brain (known as cerebral edema). Surgery may be used to completely or partially remove tumors, while radiation therapy and chemotherapy may help to shrink tumors or reduce the chance of regrowth following surgery.  Medications are also often prescribed to manage side effects of brain tumors, such as seizures.


Living and Management


During and after treatment, dogs with brain tumors should have routine physical exams that focus on their neurologic status. Repeat imaging with CT or MRI may be necessary. It is important to continually evaluate dogs for complications related to brain tumors such increased frequency of seizures, or aspiration pneumonia due to weakened swallowing reflexes associated with increased pressure of cerebrospinal fluid within the skull cavity. Lab work to monitor serum levels of anti-convulsant medications is routinely performed. The prognosis for dogs with brain tumors is guarded to fair.  Survival times of 2-4 months are expected with supportive care alone, 6-12 months with surgery alone, 7-24 months with radiation therapy alone, 6 months to 3 years with surgery combined with radiation therapy, and 7-11 months with chemotherapy alone.




Due to the fact that the causes of brain tumors in dogs are unknown, it is difficult to establish any specific prevention methods.



Dr. Joanne Intile, DVM, DACVIM, reviewed and contributed to the content of this article. 



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