Brain Tumors in Dogs: Causes, Signs, and Treatment

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.

Whether you suspect your dog has a brain tumor or if you’ve recently received a diagnosis from your vet that he's positive for one, it's going to be a heartbreaking experience no matter what.

While canine health problems of any kind can already get you in a panic, brain tumors are going to be devastating. Just to emphasize, cancer in dogs is a major concern for all pet parents.

Canine brain tumors can potentially lead to brain cancer. If not detected or treated early, the more malignant forms can lead to very serious or even fatal consequences.


It's perfectly alright to worry when brain tumor in dogs is a concern

It is only natural for you to be anxious and full of questions during this time. You will want to know about the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for your pup.

In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need about this health problem.

We love animals and want the best for them, just like you do! At Zumalka, we have worked with thousands of pet parents to help them deal with their pet’s health concerns, and we want to use our decades of experience to help you, too!

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about brain tumors in dogs and I hope you find this article helpful in dealing with your pup’s diagnosis.

Feel free to check out our complete guide to dog cancer to learn more about cancers affecting dogs while you're at it as well.


What are Brain Tumors in Dogs?

Canine brain tumors can affect any dog.

Brain tumors in dogs can affect multiple areas of the brain, like the meninges (tissues surrounding the brain), the brain stem (responsible for motor functions like walking, and chewing, among others), the choroid plexus (responsible for creating spinal fluid), or other areas.

The most common brain tumors diagnosed in dogs include canine meningioma (classified as a primary brain tumor often originating in the central nervous system and spinal cord) and canine glioma (affecting deep in the brain tissue itself).

Interestingly, a common symptom between these two is the distinct head tilt.


How is a Brain Tumor Detected?

When an affected dog shows clinical signs of a possible new onset of a brain tumor, certain tests are conducted.

These include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a complete blood count, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, as well as an assessment of the blood vessels and cell types involved through microscopic advanced imaging.

There are even tests conducted on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and abdominal ultrasound checks in some cases.

These tests are primarily conducted to confirm the presence of forebrain tumors, strictly brain tumors, and the like. This is because their symptoms can be similar to other conditions that may or may not set off behavioral abnormalities.

Examples of these conditions include severe ear infections, brainstem disease, and cerebellar disease that can also make an affected dog display a "head tilt-drunken gait" gesture.


Will a Dog's Brain Tumor Always Spread to Other Parts of the Body?

The unusual tilting of the head is a common sign of a dog brain tumor.

The good news is that not all brain tumors in the cranial cavity are cancerous or malignant. In fact, approximately 50% of meningiomas in dogs are benign, meaning that they do not spread to other areas of the body.

But the thing is getting dogs diagnosed early and treating brain tumors as soon as they appear can help save your canine companion's life.

Keep in mind that neglecting to immediately deal with canine brain tumors could put your dog at risk of brain cancer sooner or later.

And given the gravity of this disease, your pet won't just be in for a very poor prognosis in the near future, but also significant adverse effects to his overall wellness.


Which Dogs Are Usually Affected?

While all dogs can be prone to developing brain tumors within body tissue, there are certain breeds and dog age groups that are highly vulnerable to them.

Apart from older dogs, larger breed dogs like the Golden Retriever, Boxer, German Shepherd, Malamute, and Standard Poodle have a higher risk of this health issue. Moreover, the possibility of dog brain cancer in these breeds is also high.


What Differentiates Primary Brain Tumors and Secondary Brain Tumors in Canines?

Brain tumors are slow-growing and quite diverse. They are either classified as "primary" tumors or "secondary" brain tumors.

Primary means the tumor started in the brain. This is also referred to as a "common primary brain tumor." On the other hand, secondary means that the tumor location is situated somewhere else and it has eventually spread to the brain as a result.

Just to recap, if dogs develop brain tumors directly on their brain, it is called a primary brain tumor. Alternatively, if the tumor type began on the lungs, heart, or some other location, they're going to be classified as secondary tumors.

Choroid plexus tumors (also known as choroid plexus papilloma) are examples of primary brain tumors. On the other hand, mammary carcinoma is one of the most common examples of secondary brain tumors.


Signs of Brain Tumor in Dogs

Depending on the area of the brain the tumor is affecting, you might notice different symptoms and signs of brain tumors in dogs. For example, they might have seizures, problems balancing or a change in their behavior. 

Here are some signs of brain tumors in dogs to watch out for:

  • Trouble walking or staying balanced

  • Loss of vision, bumping into items or doors

  • Head tilt (the only abnormality common among various brain tumors)

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Constant pacing

There are certain types of cancers that tend to spread to the brain. So if your dog has been diagnosed with a different type of cancer and you notice any of the above symptoms, get him checked out immediately by a veterinary medicine professional!


Brain Tumor in Dogs: Life Expectancy

Brain tumor in dogs are classified as "primary" and "secondary."

Sadly, the life expectancy isn’t very good for dogs that are diagnosed with aggressive, malignant brain tumors. These will have a huge impact on healthy brain tissue and brain cells in just a very short period of time.

Most of the dogs affected only live for a few months depending on the severity and location of the tumor. The brain is a difficult place to treat, so there aren’t many effective traditional treatment options available.

Surgical removal, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are used to shrink brain tumors, but won't guarantee a total treatment. Brain tumors treated with these strategies may not even have a positive effect on the entire tumor at all.


Is Radiation Therapy the Only Solution?

Although radiation therapy is a popular option when it comes to dealing with brain tumors in canines, it is definitely not the only one you can go for.

While this mode of treating brain tumors may somehow help curb the new onset of spreading of the same, you will have to deal with a lot of potential adverse side effects in the process.

These commonly include the presence of mouth ulcers and an abrupt decreased appetite—head tilt will still be there, though. You will also need to control seizures and stock up on anti-inflammatory medication while you're at it.

Because of this, many pet parents are interested in holistic treatment for brain tumors in dogs. 


Can Brain Tumors in Dogs Be Dealt With Naturally?

Absolutely! Our PIPTOPET can be used for both short and long-term support for dog brain tumors. You can also use it in addition to other treatment options.

PIPTOPET is designed to boost the immune system with its anti-tumor properties, which can be good before, during, or after the presence of cancer cells in the body.

We are always ready to give you any advice needed or help you decide on treatment options. Please feel free to reach out to us through a call, chat, or email!

If you enjoyed this article, or have a pet diagnosed with a brain tumor, leave a comment and get in touch! We’d love it if you shared this article on social media so other pet parents can find out more too!


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

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