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What Is Hydrocephalus in Dogs?

Derrick Campana

what is hydrocephalus in dogs

Hydrocephalus is a condition that affects dogs and other animals, including humans. It occurs when too much cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is in the brain or around it, putting pressure on the skull. This can lead to neurological symptoms, including seizures, impaired vision, behavioral changes, and mobility problems.

Hydrocephalus can be congenital or acquired and can be either acute or chronic. Additionally, hydrocephalus can occur due to trauma, infection, or inflammation affecting the brain.

The cause of hydrocephalus in dogs is unknown; however, certain breeds are more prone to developing it than others. These include Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, Toy Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Pugs, and Shih Tzus. Learn about the symptoms your dog can experience when affected by this condition and ensure you can identify the signs to get them treatment!

Hydrocephalus in Dogs Symptoms

hydrocephalus symptoms in dogs

Hydrocephalus can produce a broad array of symptoms in dogs, depending on the source and area of the brain that is impacted. Nonetheless, some pups don't experience any signs at all.

Symptoms of this condition may occur suddenly or progress slowly over time and can include:

Headaches and a bulging fontanel (the soft spot on the top of the head)

  • Seizures
  • Progressive blindness or vision problems
  • Abnormal behavior, such as aggression or lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Circling or walking in circles
  • Swelling of the eyes
  • Weakness or paralysis in the legs
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Abnormal gaze
  • Head pressing
  • Large, dome-shaped head, often with congenital hydrocephalus and with open fontanelles (the soft spot on the top of the skull)
  • Brain dysfunction
  • Gait abnormalities 

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it's important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Early detection is key to managing hydrocephalus in dogs.

Hydrocephalus Diagnosis

puppy in vet

If your vet suspects hydrocephalus, they will perform a physical exam and order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis. These may include:

  • Radiographs (x-rays) of the brain
  • A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • An abdominal ultrasound to check for any blockages in the ventricular system
  • Blood tests to check for metabolic dysfunction or infections
  • A cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample to test for increased CSF pressure.

These tests will help the vet determine if hydrocephalus is present and which brain areas are affected. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to reduce pressure on the brain and relieve symptoms.

Hand-Crafted Pet Prosthetics

Hydrocephalus is a serious condition that can cause severe neurological problems in dogs. It's important to be aware of the symptoms and seek veterinary care if you suspect your pup is affected. With early diagnosis and treatment, hydrocephalus can be managed successfully with medication or even surgery.

At Bionic Pets, we understand how important it is for your pet to feel comfortable and secure. That's why our custom-built cranial helmets are designed to fit your pet's exact needs. Hand-crafted with high-quality materials, these cranial helmets can help pets with hydrocephalus live freely and to the fullest. Contact us today for more information on candidacy.