If you are the owner of a small dog, you must absolutely everything know about thehydrocephalus in dogs. This serious pathology is defined by a cranial malformation or an increase in the size of the skull. It is a brain condition caused by a increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain where the cerebellum, brain and spinal cord are located. This fluid would therefore be blocked in the channels where the cerebrospinal fluid usually passes. She will cause a inflammation of the nervous system and cause hypertension inside the skull.
Be careful, there is no question of dissuading you from adopting a puppy from a breed predisposed to hydrocephalus. It is just a question of educating yourself on the causes, symptoms and treatments of this disease to be reactive if it unfortunately happens to your dog, to help a person concerned or to take a different look at this handicap.
What are the causes of hydrocephalus in dogs and predisposed breeds?
Hydrocephalus in dogs hereditary results most of the time from a congenital malformation in the puppy. The latter may also have had a brain hemorrhage or vitamin A deficiency. It can also occur in adulthood following a disease such as meningitis, edema or a brain tumor.
This pathology is found in small dogs such as the Boston Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Miniature Poodle, Cavalier King Charles, Chihuahua, Miniature Spitz, Pekingese and Yorkshire. With the French bulldog, the Maltese, the Pug and Lhasa Apso, that makes almost a dozen breeds affected by this pathology.
These dogs affected by hydrocephalus are mostly brachycephalic. In other words, they have a short skull and a flattened nose. This morphological peculiarity appeared with the selection made during the litters at the breeders. Ditto for the so-called “toy” races (races smaller than the dwarf races).
What are the symptoms of canine hydrocephalus?
The dog suffering from this pathology exhibits both morphological and behavioral symptoms. These will appear in the puppy’s first year, but they may also not appear until adulthood or not appear at all. In this case, the dog just has the morphological characteristics of the disease.
The increase in intracranial pressure leads to incontinence, from tsensory and behavioral rubles like :
- an aggressive or on the contrary dazed dog;
- painful attacks;
- proprioceptive dysfunction and gait problems;
- vomiting or seizures.
We can suspect the presence of hydrocephalus in a puppy rather small compared to its siblings. You must also pay attention to the shape of its head: if the forehead is rounded, the head is broad and the puppy / dog is cross-eyed with two eyes, the latter has a predisposition for this pathology. He may also have difficulty breathing and delay in learning. Do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms.
the hydrocephalic dog also has certain behavioral disorders: the animal begins to walk in a circle and tends to lean its head against objects or walls. Dogs or puppies with hydrocephalus may be aggressive or conversely, they may be drowsy. The dog is blind or if he sees he may not be able to stand the light.
If it isa young dog, the possibility of hydrocephalus can be raised because of a lack of coordination in the legs. Finally, we can also sound the alarm bells when the dog does not control his bladder or his intestine in addition to the other symptoms mentioned above. Finally, if the hydrocephalus is severe, the animal may fall into a coma. This can lead to the death of the animal.
How to relieve and treat hydrocephalus in my dog?
To be sure that it is this disease, the veterinarian will start by performing an MRI of the brain tissue and a scanner to establish his final diagnosis. If the dog is really young and its fontanel is not closed, the practitioner can also do an ultrasound by passing through it with a probe. This allows a early diagnosis of disease.
Canine hydrocephalus is not necessarily fatal, but its symptoms weaken the body and the animal’s brain. There is no treatment yet inherent in the disease, but some medications are prescribed for life to alleviate symptoms. Anti-convulsants and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors will help alleviate behavioral problems. Corticosteroids and diuretics will also help regulate the amount of cerebrospinal fluid. The results are quite effective and allow the dog to lead an almost normal life.
The veterinarian can also advise you on surgery consisting of draining excess brain fluid. However, the latter is very expensive and there is a risk of failure in 1 in 3 cases. This solution is often abandoned by owners of hydrocephalic dogs. However, if the animal is in too much pain, euthanasia is also a proposed solution. The life expectancy for a hydrocephalic dog is variable depending on its management and whether it reacts well to its treatment. The earlier hydrocephalus is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be stabilized.
Compared to a healthy dog, your disabled dog will need veterinary follow-up and a little re-education so that he maintains a certain balance, especially with his ataxia. Indeed, it is necessary to allow him to find the sensations of his body and to become aware of his being thanks to the proprioception. This rehabilitation technique is provided by a dog trainer or by yourself by purchasing the appropriate equipment. You should also offer him a healthy lifestyle such as exercising regularly and giving him lots of hugs. It is also important to play with him to stimulate him. Do not hesitate to take regular walks with him.
In summary, hydrocephalus in dogs is a crippling disease, but it can be controlled with medication and full of love on a daily basis. Indeed, this does not call into question the moral qualities of the breed of dog you want to adopt. A disabled dog remains alongside his master like any loyal dog. The goal is to maintain the life of the animal with a minimum of pain and suffering and a maximum of stimulation and benevolence.