Do dogs with brain tumors suffer?

Depending on the stage of cancer, your pet may be in a lot of pain. It will likely be prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids to relieve pain throughout treatment.

Although brain cancer in older dogs and cats is not uncommon, it frequently goes undiagnosed because it requires sophisticated brain imaging (such as magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI) to find a brain tumor.

Concerningly, young dogs of some breeds, like Boxers and Boston Terriers, are increasingly developing brain tumors. When their pet is diagnosed with a brain tumor, many owners feel helpless because the condition has serious consequences.

However, the degree of malignancy of these tumors varies greatly, and some of them can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, there is still a lot we don’t understand about how various types of brain tumors in dogs and cats behave, which can make it challenging to advise pet owners on the best course of action. This website describes ongoing research projects at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine and summarizes what is currently known about the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of various types of brain tumors.

A mass in the brain is technically referred to as a brain tumor. But frequently, it refers to a cancerous (or neoplastic) mass inside the skull (figure 1). Brain tumors can be secondary (figure 2) or primary (figure 2), emerging from cells outside the brain and spreading to the brain.

Meningioma, glioma, choroid plexus papillomas, pituitary adenomas or adenocarcinomas, among other primary brain tumors, are seen in dogs and cats.

The most frequent primary brain tumor in both humans and canines is a meningioma. Instead of the brain’s own cells, it develops from the arachnoid mater of the meninges (the membranes that surround the brain). Meningiomas tend to be grouped with brain tumors even though they are not strictly brain tumors because they develop in the cranial cavity and compress or invade the brain. Figure 3 is a MRI of a meningioma. Dog breeds with long noses (doliochocephalic), like the Golden Retriever, are more likely to develop these tumors. Meningiomas typically grow slowly and are treatable, though more aggressive forms can occur.

Secondary brain tumors – Secondary tumors are the result of another tumor’s metastasis, or spread, from another part of the body to the brain. Hemangiosarcoma, mammary carcinoma, and melanoma are a few tumors that can spread to the brain. Because they have already spread throughout the body, these tumors have a very poor prognosis. When a diagnosis of a brain tumor has been made or is suspected, it is standard procedure to take radiographs of the thorax and even ultrasound the abdomen to ensure there is no sign of cancer elsewhere in the body.

What is a brain tumor?

Brain tumors are generally classified as either primary or secondary. Primary brain tumors are tumors that develop from the brain’s tissues or the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain. Secondary brain tumors, also known as “metastases,” are cancers that have metastasized from a primary tumor in another part of the body to the brain (i e. , metastasized). Additionally, nearby structures, such as the cranial nerves (highly functional nerves that emerge from the brain), may give rise to secondary brain tumors. Brain tumors are generally diagnosed by MRI or CT scan.

Types of Brain Tumors in Dogs

Primary and secondary brain tumors are the two primary types that affect canines.

Primary brain tumors arise from the same cells that line the brain and make up the brain. There are four types of primary brain tumors in dogs:

  • Meningioma arising from the coverings of the brain
  • Glioma arising from the support cells of the brain
  • Ependymoma arising from the lining of the fluid-filled spaces of the brain
  • Choroid plexus tumors arising from the cells that help produce spinal fluid
  • Secondary brain tumors, on the other hand, are tumors that originate somewhere else in the body and then spread to the brain, a process known as metastasis.

    How is a brain tumor diagnosed?

    Any time an animal older than five years develops new neurological symptoms, a brain tumor should be taken into consideration. It’s crucial to realize that, with very few exceptions, brain tumors are tumors that only affect the brain’s soft tissues and cannot be seen on radiographs of the skull. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans can be used to visualize the brain. The following diagnostic steps are recommended:

  • Complete physical and neurological examination to identify any other health problems and to localize the neurological signs to a particular area of the brain
  • Routine blood work to rule out a systemic problem and assess the anesthetic risk
  • Thoracic radiographs to check there is no evidence of spread (metastasis) of cancer to the lungs (a common site of metastasis)
  • CT or MRI of the brain. This has to be done under general anesthesia. As a general rule, MRI shows the brain in more detail than CT and is the test of choice when assessing for brain tumors. However, it is a more expensive test and less widely available. CT s will identify most meningiomas and choroid plexus papillomas but can fail to identify gliomas. CT s also have a lot of artifact when trying to assess the brainstem and cerebellum. We therefore strongly recommend an MRI if the animal has signs of brainstem or cerebellar disease, or if it is a breed of dog that is predisposed to gliomas, such as the Boston Terrier.
  • Tumor type can be suspected from the appearance of the mass on CT or MRI, but can only be definitively identified by taking a sample of the tumor, either at surgery or by biopsy. Indeed, masses caused by infections (for example abscesses or fungal granulomas) can look like brain tumors on brain s (figure 8). It is therefore vital that a sample of the tumor is taken and examined with a microscope to identify the cell types involved. Not only will this identify the tumor type, but it will also grade the malignancy of the tumor. Many neurologists, particularly those working in university teaching hospitals, routinely perform CT guided biopsies of tumors.
  • FAQ

    How does a dog act with a brain tumor?

    Seizures are the most typical symptom of a brain tumor in dogs. Any time a dog over the age of five exhibits a new onset of seizures, a brain tumor must be taken into account as a potential cause. Abnormal behavior or mental activity may be additional indications of a brain tumor.

    What are the final stages of brain tumor in dogs?

    Seizures, confusion, sedation, instability, weakness, and, as the condition worsens, stupor, coma, and eventual death are among the symptoms. Seizures in dogs may be the only indication of a brain tumor.

    How long can an old dog live with a brain tumor?

    With only palliative care, the average survival time for a primary brain tumor is three to six months, or five to twenty-eight months with radiation and/or surgery. Unfortunately, secondary brain tumor-affected dogs rarely make it past a month.

    Should dog with brain tumor be put to sleep?

    Choosing when to put your dog to sleep due to a dog brain tumor may be challenging, but it may sadly be the most compassionate course of action. A care coordinator is available day or night to speak with you before you make that choice. Your dog’s welfare will always be the ultimate priority.