Wentzville, Missouri
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Questions About Hydrocephalus in Dogs Answered September 21, 2020

Questions About Hydrocephalus in Dogs Answered, Wentzville, Missouri

Pets can’t articulate how they’re feeling in the same way humans can. That’s why you must pay attention to changes in your canine’s appearance and behavior and schedule regular veterinarian appointments. During a checkup, a veterinarian will be able to diagnose a dog with hydrocephalus, a condition that causes a buildup of water on the brain. To know how to proceed with treatment, below are answers to questions about hydrocephalus. 

Frequently Asked Queries About Hydrocephalus in Dogs    

What is hydrocephalus?

The voids surrounding your dog’s brain and spinal cord are filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid helps cushion the brain and supply it with nutrients. Hydrocephalus refers to when excess fluid leaks inside the skull. The buildup causes brain swelling.

Pressing against the skull can permanently damage brain tissue. Although any breed can develop this condition, it is most prevalent in chihuahuas, possibly due to the natural head shape. Boston and Yorkshire terriers, English bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, and Maltese are other breeds prone to developing hydrocephalus.  

Why does the condition develop?

There are two types of hydrocephalus: congenital and acquired. A birth defect affecting the shape or firmness of the skull causes the congenital condition. If a dog has a brain tumor or infection, acquired hydrocephalus can develop. The underlying illness has compromised the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.      

What symptoms should I watch for?

Troy-Wentzville-Missouri-veterinarianA dog with congenital hydrocephalus might begin to show symptoms in adulthood. Watch for changes in the speed or gate of the animal’s walk, unusual behavior, problems balancing, and impairment of cognitive function that makes it difficult or impossible to retain commands they are taught.

Canines with acquired hydrocephalus might suffer vision problems, experience seizures, and/or press their heads against surfaces for relief.  

How is the condition treated?

A veterinarian will perform an MRI or CT Scan to detect brain swelling and cerebrospinal fluid blockages. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

In the early stages, a doctor might prescribe steroids to stop brain swelling and alter the body’s production of cerebrospinal fluid. Surgery might also be recommended, where a shunt is surgically implanted to serve as a new pathway for the fluid to flow.   


If you suspect your dog has hydrocephalus, contact the veterinarians at Troy & Wentzville Veterinary Clinic for a diagnosis. For over 60 years, pet parents throughout Lincoln and St. Charles counties in Missouri have trusted the caring, compassionate veterinarians at this local animal hospital to provide pet wellness exams, surgical procedures, and additional treatments to add years to the lives of their cuddly family members. See how the doctors diagnose illnesses online. For an appointment, call (636) 528-4534 for Troy or (636) 327-6488 for Wentzville. Find out what precautions the team is taking to keep patients safe on Facebook.  

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