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What Is Hydrocephalus in dogs?

What Is Hydrocephalus in Dogs?

Today we are looking at health conditions and asking the question What Is Hydrocephalus in Dogs? Let’s find out more…

What Is Hydrocephalus in Dogs?

If you’re unsure of what this condition is, you may be wondering: “What is Hydrocephalus in Dogs?” Before you decide to go ahead and get your dog diagnosed, it’s important to understand the symptoms and treatments of hydrocephalus.

You should also know what the symptoms and treatments are, as well as how you can prevent it. Read on to learn more. You’ll feel more confident in making a decision after reading this article.


Hydrocephalus in dogs is a medical condition in which excess cerebrospinal fluid leaks into the skull. During early development, young puppies are often unaware of their problem.

This softening of the skull bones can lead to a bulging head. As the dog ages, it may develop secondary hydrocephalus, caused by infections, tumors, or inflammation.

The first stage of hydrocephalus is known as congenital hydrocephalus, but some dogs can develop the condition as a result of another brain disorder.

Symptoms of hydrocephalus in cats and dogs include slowing down, lack of coordination, and difficulty learning. These dogs may also exhibit aggressive behavior. They may bite humans or other dogs.

Hydrocephalic dogs may have difficulty coordinating their body parts and may appear enlarged.

In addition, they may kick their front legs when walking. In addition, they may be difficult to housetrain and have poor housetraining.

In addition to looking for signs of hydrocephalus, veterinarians will also perform advanced diagnostic imaging. Advanced MRIs and computed tomography (CT) scans are common diagnostic methods.

These tests require anesthesia for your pet. The results of these tests will reveal the cause of hydrocephalus and suggest a treatment plan. If a diagnosis is made, your veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids or a neurosurgical procedure.

Treatment for hydrocephalus in dogs includes reducing intracranial pressure and decreasing the production of cerebrospinal fluid. Corticosteroid medicines and diuretics are frequently prescribed to reduce fluid production and inflammation.

Surgery may be necessary in extreme cases to drain the fluid. In addition, the life expectancy of your dog will depend on its age and the severity of hydrocephalus. It may require several treatments.

Those with the disease can suffer from severe problems including seizures and housebreaking difficulties. Seizures may occur, gait abnormalities, and blindness.

A vet may prescribe corticosteroids or antiseizure medications to manage symptoms. If a dog develops severe cases of hydrocephalus, they may require supportive care throughout their lives.

While treatment for hydrocephalus is usually successful, it is not guaranteed.


Although no cure exists for hydrocephalus, there are treatments for this condition. Corticosteroids can reduce the symptoms, and a ventriculoperitoneal shunt can be implanted to remove fluid from the brain. In severe cases, anti-seizure drugs such as omeprazole and furosemide are also used.

Surgery may be necessary in severe cases.

There are several methods for treating hydrocephalus in dogs. The main goal of hydrocephalus treatment is to control intracranial pressure and reduce the production of cerebrospinal fluid. For dogs with congenital hydrocephalus, treatment usually consists of steroid medications that decrease inflammation and reduce CSF production.

The use of anti-epilepsy medication can also be an effective treatment, as it can prevent seizures.

If medications and other treatments are not enough to cure your dog of hydrocephalus, surgery may be the best option. Although surgery is expensive and offers only temporary relief, it is the best option if the disease has already led to brain damage.

A neurosurgeon can place a shunt to divert excess CSF from the brain to the abdomen, allowing it to be reabsorbed. The surgery is expensive, however, and requires the expertise of a highly specialized neurosurgeon. In Bernie’s case, she was treated by Southeast Veterinary Neurology.

Other treatment options include shunt surgery, which can be life-saving if the CSF pressure continues to increase. Surgical treatment for hydrocephalus in dogs is reserved for severe cases with more advanced neurologic signs. Patients can be given antiepileptic drugs or draining devices to remove the fluid.

Some surgeries use the subcutaneous tissue or peritoneal space as reservoirs. When surgical treatment is necessary, it may be difficult to reverse the deficiency due to deterioration of the neurologic signs.

A VP shunt can be successful for dogs with congenital hydrocephalus. It helps remove blockages in CSF and relieves intracranial pressure in puppies with hydrocephalus.

The puppy’s neurological condition improved with the shunt. In general, a VP shunt may be a viable treatment option for puppies with congenital hydrocephalus.

If the condition is left untreated, it may not have a favorable prognosis and may need ongoing supportive care for the rest of the dog’s life.

What Is Hydrocephalus in dogs


Unlike human symptoms, hydrocephalus in dogs is a hereditary condition. Normally, this disorder results from an inherited problem with the ventricles that produce CSF and the anatomical areas responsible for drainage.

Cats are more likely to develop hydrocephalus while in utero, primarily because of feline distemper virus infection.

While the exact model of inheritance of hydrocephalus in dogs is not known, inherited conditions are the most likely causes.

Treatment plans for hydrocephalus in dogs vary. Surgical procedures may be necessary if the condition is severe. A shunt is implanted in the brain to drain fluid and relocate it to the abdominal cavity. Although surgical procedures can cure hydrocephalus, the success rate varies, ranging from 50 percent to 90 percent.

A veterinarian may prescribe valium to reduce the severity of seizures. In severe cases, your dog may need steroids, antibiotics, or surgery. Long-term medical management of hydrocephalus can result in electrolyte imbalances or Cushing’s disease.

While veterinary treatment for congenital hydrocephalus is nonsurgical, the prognosis is generally poor. Dogs may need ongoing care for the rest of their lives.

The most common cause of adult hydrocephalus is a tumor in the brain. In contrast, dogs with acquired hydrocephalus do not exhibit the classic signs of the condition such as a domed head or fontanel.

Hydrocephalus in dogs is often caused by a condition called choroid plexus tumor. In dogs with this condition, the cerebrospinal fluid accumulates inside the skull and on the brain.

If left untreated, the condition may lead to death. Fortunately, treatments can help dogs with hydrocephalus live normal lives. But the outcome is based on the severity and duration of the condition.

While the cause of hydrocephalus in dogs can vary, the most common method of diagnosis is a brain scan. In dogs with closed fontanels, an MRI or CT scan can help determine the exact cause of the problem.

For dogs with acquired hydrocephalus, the veterinarian may also want to collect a sample of CSF, the fluid surrounding the spinal cord.

If there are inflammatory cells present, this may be indicative of an underlying condition such as an infection.


Fortunately, there are some methods for preventing hydrocephalus in dogs. Preventing hydrocephalus in adult dogs can be as easy as avoiding exposure to certain types of toxins.

In addition, preventive measures include regular vaccination against parainfluenza, a disease that can lead to a dog’s brain swelling, and anti-parasite treatment.

Some vets even recommend using a parainfluenza vaccine for puppies. However, there are no guaranteed solutions for preventing hydrocephalus.

Although genetics have no direct link to this disorder, there are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of the condition. One of the most common causes is a genetic anomaly in the central nervous system.

Aberrant head morphology and a genetic abnormality are believed to increase the risk of developing hydrocephalus in this breed.

What Is Hydrocephalus in dogs

Although the etiology of internal hydrocephalus is still unclear, prematurity is known to increase the risk.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. The goal of surgery is to remove excess CSF from the brain and redirect it to the abdomen. While this method is expensive, it does provide a temporary solution and is considered a last resort for dogs with hydrocephalus.

Surgical procedures include the placement of a shunt to divert CSF away from obstructed areas of the ventricular system.

However, long-term medical management of hydrocephalus can lead to other serious complications, including Cushing’s disease, seizures, and electrolyte imbalances.

In young dogs, veterinary veterinarians will look for symptoms like large open fontanel or lack of coordination while walking. MRI and CT scans will reveal the cause of the fluid build-up. If the symptoms are present, your veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids.

If your dog does not respond to these medications, you can consider having your pup examined by a veterinary neurologist. They can determine if hydrocephalus is a life-threatening condition.

In addition to medications, veterinarians can prescribe dietary supplements for dogs that contain ephedrine.

Supplemental vitamin B12 will help prevent hydrocephalus. Infections of ependymal cells are another cause of hydrocephalus in dogs. These can be prevented by preventing infections caused by viruses.

However, veterinarians can’t guarantee the effectiveness of the medication. In some cases, surgery is necessary.

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