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2016 Specialty



Hydrocephalus in Dogs
The Overproduction of spinal fluid can also cause hydrocephalus. However, this is rare. A tumor in the eye may also cause water on the brain. The congenital form of hydrocephalus is more likely to occur in small and
brachycephalic dogs: bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Maltese, Pomeranians, Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Cairn Terriers, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Pekingese. It is an inherited disease in Yorkshire terriers.
Additionally, there is a high incidence of normal adult beagles that are found to have enlarged ventricular systems and yet are clinically without symptoms. Acquired hydrocephalus can occur in all breeds. Congenital hydrocephalus usually becomes apparent at a few weeks up to a year of age. Acute onset of signs can occur in dogs with previously undiagnosed congenital hydrocephalus. The exact cause of this uncertain. Acquired hydrocephalus can occur at any age
  • Symptoms and Types
    • May be without symptoms
    • Wetting or soiling in the house
    • Sleepiness
    • Excess vocalization
    • Hyperexcitability
    • Blindness
    • Seizures
    • A large dome-shaped head (due to intracranial swelling)
    • Crossed-eyes
    • Gait abnormalities
    • Coma
    • Abnormal breathing
    • Animal may arch its head back and extend all four legs.
  • Causes
    • Congenital
    • Genetics
    • Prenatal infection
    • Parainfluenza virus (dogs)
    • Exposure to teratogens (drugs that interfere with fetal development) in utero
    • Brain hemorrhage in newborn after difficult labor
    • Vitamin A deficiency
    • Acquired
    • Intracranial inflammatory diseases
    • Masses in the cranium
  • Diagnosis—You will need to provide your veterinarian with a thorough and detailed history of your dog's health, including any information you have about its birth and parentage, the onset of symptoms, and any possible incidents, including minor falls, that might have preceded this condition. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, with a complete blood profile, chemical blood profile, complete blood count, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis, in order to rule out or confirm evidence of trauma, infrction or cancer
  • Treatment—A case of Hydrocephalus often has a poor prognosis. Supportive treatment will help reduce the build-up of fluid either by decreasing CSF production or increasing CSF absorption. However, this can only give temporary relief. Surgery can be done to shunt CSF to other parts of the body but most cases are unsuccessful and the procedure expensive. The outlook for dogs with hydrocephalus can be quite variable, ranging from quite good to grave. If the condition is congenital and the dog has obvious neurological symptoms with accompanying irreversible brain damage, the prognosis is probably guarded to poor. However, if the condition is congenital with no or only mild symptoms, or if it is acquired by trauma-induced inflammation or by a treatable infection, the prognosis can be quite good, depending upon whether the underlying cause can be identified, corrected or cured before significant brain damage occurs from the increase in intracranial pressure.
  • Prevention—There are currently no known preventative measures for this medical condition.

Other health problems can occur in your Maltese. If you notice anything unusual with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This webpage is for general information only and is not intended to be a medical guide.

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