Hydrocephalus is an unusual neurological condition that develops when the brain is under extreme pressure due to fluid build-up. It may be present from birth or may affect adult dogs as a complication of a variety of diseases.
There are two types of hydrocephalus that affects dogs:
- Congenital hydrocephalus occurs in dogs, is something with which they are born and is likely to cause complications during fetal development.
- Acquired hydrocephalus (which can also induce secondary hydrocephalus or obstructive hydrocephalus) occurs in older animals when inflammation, infection, or tumors arise and block the outflow of the CSF. Brain tumor is the most frequent cause of hydrocephalus in adult dogs.
What Causes Hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus is caused by a congenital problem at birth in puppies that results in either too much cerebrospinal fluid being formed or in the cerebrospinal fluid not being sufficiently drained. In adult dogs, hydrocephalus occurs when inflammation in the brain causes swelling that restricts the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hydrocephalus?
Hydrocephalus symptoms in dogs can include:
- Changed mental status
- Crying out of
- Serious dullness
- Vision or hearing impairment
- Spastic or clumsy walking;
- Head pressing
- Head tilting
- Irregular motions of the eye
How Is Hydrocephalus Diagnosed?
When diagnosing hydrocephalus in young dogs, the veterinarian will evaluate the clinical signs to better assess the severity of the hydrocephalus. Usually, the appearance of a wide open fontanel and lack of balance while walking can give your veterinarian an idea of what to look for. The ultrasound assessment of the fontanel would demonstrate the dilation of the brain ventricles. The precise cause of the fluid build-up is determined by a CT scan or MRI scan. Tumors or other defects can be found in the different scans being conducted.
What Is The Treatment For Hydrocephalus?
Your dog would need hospitalization if there are serious symptoms or if surgery is needed. Dogs with less serious symptoms can be treated on an outpatient basis. Hospitalized patients need to be turned periodically to avoid pressure sores, supplied with eye lubricant to stop their eyes from drying out and properly placed to prevent aspiration from pneumonia.