Symptoms of brain tumor in elderly dogs

Key Takeaways:

  • Brain tumors in elderly dogs have several symptoms, including seizures, changes in behavior, loss of coordination, loss of balance, vomiting, and hypersensitivity to pain or touch. Additionally, dogs may show vision problems, propulsive circling motions, uncoordinated movement, a “drunken,” unsteady gait, and non-specific signs.
  • Different breeds of dogs have different risk levels for brain tumors. Brachycephalic breeds and Dolichocephalic breeds are at higher risk for acquiring brain tumors than other breeds.
  • Advanced imaging techniques, such as MRI, CT scans, and ultrasounds, can help diagnose brain tumors in dogs. Common primary brain tumors include meningioma, glioblastoma, and astrocytoma. Treatment options may vary depending on the type and location of the tumor, but may include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.


As our furry friends grow older, it’s important to look out for potential health concerns that can arise. One of these health concerns could be a brain tumor. In this upcoming section on brain tumors in dogs, we will explore the symptoms and warning signs that pet owners should be aware of when it comes to their elderly dogs. Through our examination of this serious health issue, we hope to provide valuable information that can help pet owners give their furry friends the best care possible.

Brain tumors in dogs

Brain tumors are a condition in dogs. They come from cells growing and replicating too much in the brain. This growth can press down on healthy tissues, which is bad for the dog.

Primary brain tumors are from cells in the brain, while secondary tumors come from other parts of the body. Environmental factors, radiation, or genetics can cause brain tumors.

Collie, Golden Retriever, Scottish Terrier, and Boxer Pug breeds are more at risk. Symptoms include seizures and vomiting. Vision problems or changed consciousness may not show.

Doctors use MRI and CT scans to check if a dog has a brain tumor. Treatment depends on the severity of the cancer. It could be surgery, chemo, palliative care, or complementary medicine. Researchers study treatments to improve survival rates.

Veterinarians prescribe medicines or physical therapy to help the dog. They also make sure the dog gets proper nutrition for better health and response to treatments.

Types and Causes of Brain Tumors in Dogs

Brain tumors in dogs are common, especially in older dogs above the age of 5. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into the types and causes of brain tumors in dogs. We’ll look at primary and secondary brain tumors in dogs and their root causes.

Primary Brain Tumors

Primary brain tumors are the most usual type of cancerous tumors in dogs. They start in the brain from cells inside the nervous system, and can be found anywhere in the brain. The particular cause of these tumors in dogs is not known, but is thought to be a mix of genetic and environmental factors.

Types of primary brain tumors include meningiomas, gliomas, pituitary adenomas, choroid plexus papillomas, and more. Meningiomas are covered tumors that come from the meninges, which line the brain. Gliomas form from supportive cells of the nervous system, making infiltrative masses that spread into nearby tissue.

The signs of primary brain tumors in dogs differ by the tumor’s location and size. Common symptoms are seizures, attitude shifts, loss of coordination or balance, vomiting, changed consciousness, pain or touch hypersensitivity, sight issues, circling motions, clumsy movement, and an unsteady gait. Diagnosis requires high-tech imaging like MRI or CT scans, plus biopsy exam for confirmation.

Treatment for primary brain tumors includes surgery followed by radiation therapy or chemotherapy, based on each case. Scientists are still working on new treatments and better diagnostic accuracy for improved prognosis prediction.

Secondary Brain Tumors

Secondary brain tumors in dogs are called metastatic brain tumors. These occur when cancer cells spread from another part of the body to the brain. They are less common than primary brain tumors, but occur in all breeds. Common sources include lung cancer, melanoma, mammary gland cancer, and lymphoma.

Vets should consider secondary brain tumors if a dog has a history of cancer or other cancer symptoms. CT scans and MRIs can help detect them. Early detection and treatment of primary cancers can stop cancer cells spreading to the brain. Regular check-ups with a vet can improve a dog’s prognosis.

Tumors can occur without human influence. Pet owners should know the risk factors and look out for cancer symptoms. Provide your dog with the best care possible.

Causes of Brain Tumors in Dogs

Brain tumors in dogs can have various causes. These include genetics, environmental factors, and exposure to radiation or toxins. Primary tumors come from brain cells and nearby tissues. Secondary tumors spread from other body parts. Certain breeds are more likely to get primary tumors. Viruses may also contribute. Environmental toxins such as pesticides and herbicides can increase the chance of brain tumors.

Using advanced imaging like MRI or CT scans can help decide treatments. The Boxer breed is particularly prone to meningiomas, a type of benign primary tumor. It is important to watch out for warning signs like seizures and changes in consciousness. So, catch brain tumors early.

Symptoms of Brain Tumors in Dogs

Changes in your senior dog’s behavior can be concerning. In this section, we will discuss the various symptoms that may indicate a brain tumor in dogs. From seizures to vision problems, altered consciousness to abnormal behavior, we will cover a range of possible signs to watch out for. Stay informed with this comprehensive guide on the symptoms of brain tumors in dogs, supported by expert sources.


Seizures in dogs can be a sign of a brain tumor. Other symptoms may include changes in behaviour, coordination loss, vomiting, altered awareness and hypersensitivity to pain or touch. The severity of these symptoms depend on the tumor size and location.

It is important to remember that not all seizures are caused by a brain tumor. Other causes, such as epilepsy, infections and metabolic disorders, can also lead to seizures. A complete diagnostic workup is essential to determine the cause and establish an appropriate treatment plan.

If your dog has seizures, seek veterinary help quickly. Early intervention can improve the outcome and quality of life for your pup. Discuss any worries you have with your vet.

Changes in Behavior

Changes in behavior are common with dogs who have brain tumors, primary or secondary. These changes can be to their mood, temperament and daily routines. It is due to tumors directly affecting the part of the brain that controls behaviors, or causing harm to nearby tissues.

Aggression, anxiousness, depression and being listless are common signs of a brain tumor. Dogs may also no longer like activities they once did, such as going for walks or playing fetch. They may have sudden moments of being very hyperactive or act without thinking.

It is important to take notice of these changes in behavior, as they may be an indicator of a problem. If you think your dog may have a brain tumor, it is vital to get medical help quickly. This will give your pet the best chance of recovery.

Loss of Coordination

Dogs with primary brain tumors may show a range of symptoms. One of these is loss of coordination. This is due to damage to the cerebellum, which controls balance and coordination.

Other symptoms may include: seizures, vision problems, vomiting, and changes in behavior. It is important to detect and treat these tumors early. This can help manage symptoms and improve the dog’s quality of life. Loss of coordination can greatly impact mobility and quality of life. Thus, early detection and treatment is key for affected canines.

Loss of Balance

Loss of balance is a symptom dogs can have when they have a brain tumor. If a dog has trouble walking steadily, it might be a sign of the condition. Studies show brain tumors can give dogs many symptoms, including losing balance.

Also, brain tumors can cause uncoordinated movements and an unsteady gait. This may be because of the tumor’s effect on the nervous system, making it hard for the pet to control its body. So, if you see these signs, take your dog to the vet.

It’s important to treat loss of balance. If you don’t, it can make the dog’s condition worse. That’s why if you see any of the signs from this article, you should get your dog checked with imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan.

My neighbor’s old dog had problems with coordination and circling. She thought it was because of age, but he actually had a brain tumor. After diagnosis and treatment, there were many improvements.

To sum up, pet owners should watch for symptoms like balance loss. Get your dog checked right away if you do. Don’t wait – diagnosis and treatment will help your pet stay healthy. Prevention is always better than cure!


A pup with a brain tumor may vomit, alongside other symptoms. These can be: no appetite, sluggishness, and sadness. In rare cases, vomiting can be a sign of high intracranial pressure, which needs immediate medical attention.

Other signs of dog brain tumors are: seizures, behavior changes, bad balance, vision problems, circling, and altered consciousness. Modern imaging techniques such as MRI and CT scans can help detect the tumor, and its location. This is important for treatment.

Dog owners should check their pet for any odd behavior or physical activity. It is best to get veterinary help if any of these symptoms arise. There are treatments available for canine brain tumors. This can enhance the pup’s life and extend its survival.

Abnormal Behavior

Brain tumors in dogs can present as abnormal behavior. This can look like pacing, restlessness, and agitation. Changes in aggression, anxiety, and appetite could be other signs of brain tumors. Your pet may not recognize or obey your commands, even if they’ve been trained before.

It’s important to remember that abnormal behavior may be caused by other health issues. It’s essential to take your pet to the vet if you notice any changes. Dogs with brain tumors have unpredictable behavior due to their impaired minds.

Altered Consciousness

Altered consciousness is a term for a change in a dog’s state of awareness. It can be due to medical concerns like brain tumors. These can cause confusion, visual problems, and behavior or mood changes. Dogs may become lethargic or unresponsive. Or, they may become unusually excitable and vocal.

It is not only brain tumors that can lead to altered consciousness. Liver, kidney, infections, and head trauma can also be the cause. That’s why it is important to get diagnostic tests done by a veterinarian.

Some breeds are more prone to brain tumors than others. Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers are a few of these. Knowing this can lead to earlier diagnosis and increased vigilance from pet owners and veterinarians.

In summary, understanding the signs of altered consciousness and getting quick veterinary help can increase the chance of successful treatment. If you see changes in your dog’s behavior, mood, or awareness, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

Hypersensitivity to Pain or Touch

Dogs with brain tumors may be extra sensitive to pain or touch. Even gentle petting can cause them to yelp in discomfort. Other signs such as seizures, loss of coordination, vomiting, and vision problems also appear. These all warrant a trip to the vet.

Specialists need to do tests and use imaging techniques to figure out how to treat the tumor.

It’s important to give dogs with brain tumors lots of love and care.

Vision Problems

Brain tumors in dogs may cause vision problems. Pressure on the optic nerve or the brain can lead to various issues. These may be hard to spot, if they show up gradually.

Your pup may have trouble tracking movements or objects. Blindness is a common symptom. They may bump into things, move their heads a lot, or seem lost. Pupils may appear bigger.

Watch your dog’s behavior and vision carefully. If you see anything odd, see a vet straight away. Treatment such as radiation therapy or surgery can improve a dog’s life.

In some cases, dogs may do the ‘propulsive circle dance.’ But vision-related symptoms are the most frequent. If you think your pup has a brain tumor, get vet assistance right away.

Propulsive Circling Motions

Observing a dog’s behavior is key to identifying if it has propulsive circling motions. This can be compulsive behavior, and is when the dog moves in one direction without stopping or changing direction. If this is done occasionally before lying down or other actions, then worry is not needed. But if it is repetitive and beyond the dog’s control, these five steps must be taken:

Step Action
1 Check if the dog circles continuously in one direction.
2 See if the dog has control of its movements.
3 Notice if the dog is confused or disoriented while circling.
4 Track how long and how frequent the movements are.
5 Report all findings to a veterinarian.

Other symptoms, such as seizures and changes in behavior, may also occur with propulsive circling. This means it is essential to determine if other symptoms are present. This can help vet diagnosticians in testing processes and create accurate diagnosis management plans quickly.

Uncoordinated Movement

Ataxia or uncoordinated movement is a common sign of brain tumors in dogs. This affects their ability to move smoothly and balance. Other symptoms of brain tumors are seizures, behavioral changes, vomiting and loss of coordination. It can happen to any breed or age of dog, and depends on the size and location of the tumor.

It’s also important to note that ataxia may not be caused by a tumor – it could be due to vestibular disease or spinal cord injury. To determine the cause, veterinarians need to use advanced scans like MRI or CT.

“Drunken,” Unsteady Gait

Brain tumors in canines may cause a range of signs that can be hard to differentiate from other neurological issues. One such symptom is an unsteady gait, which can seem like a wobbly or drunken walk.

This symptom is a sign of brain tumors in pup pals. Tumors inside the brain can affect nerve activity, leading to an odd and uncoordinated gait. This type of gait can be caused by both primary and secondary brain tumors, and other symptoms like seizures, altered consciousness, hypersensitivity to pain or touch, vision issues, may also be present.

Other unique signs may be seen depending on the size and location of a tumor. If your pup shows an unsteady gait or any strange behavior, it’s essential to take them to the vet right away.

Treatment for brain tumors in dogs is largely dependent on breed, age, health condition and the stage of the tumor. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy are some possible treatments. In cases when medical treatments don’t bring much improvement, palliative care may be looked into. It’s essential for pet parents to discuss all treatment options with their veterinarian before deciding on the best approach.

Be sure to check out what’s going on if your pup starts speaking in tongues – but chances are, it’s not a brain tumor!

Non-Specific Signs

Non-Specific Symptoms can accompany other signs of potential brain tumors, such as seizures, changes in behavior, and vision problems. These alone don’t always mean your pet has a brain tumor, but they could be warning signs that need more investigation from a vet.

If you spot any of these symptoms and think your dog may have a brain tumor, take them to the vet ASAP. An MRI or CT scan can confirm whether there’s something wrong with the pet’s brain. Early diagnosis can lead to better treatment options.

Don’t wait! Take your dog to the vet if any non-specific symptoms start to appear – early detection gives them a better chance of recovery.

Breeds at Higher Risk for Brain Tumors

Brain tumors are a common condition affecting elderly dogs, with certain breeds being at higher risk than others. In this section, we will explore the breeds that are particularly susceptible to brain tumors. We’ll take a closer look at Dolichocephalic breeds and Brachycephalic breeds to gain a better understanding of their risks.

Dolichocephalic Breeds

Dogs with skulls that are long and narrow, known as dolichocephalic breeds, are more prone to brain tumors than other breeds. Examples of this type of dog include Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds, and Irish Wolfhounds. This skull shape causes pressure on their brains, increasing tumor growth. Also, dolichocephalic breeds have thinner skulls with less fat for protection, making them more vulnerable.

As dogs age, they can get brain tumors such as meningiomas, glioblastomas, and metastatic diseases. Especially, Greyhounds are at risk for meningiomas. Owners should be watchful and take their dogs for checkups. Symptoms to watch for are seizures, vision problems, wandering eyes, and behavior changes.

So, all dog owners, especially those with dolichocephalic breeds, should be aware of symptoms of brain tumors and seek help if needed. In addition, brachycephalic breeds with cute faces have a higher risk of brain tumors too.

Brachycephalic Breeds

Certain dog breeds are special – they are called ‘brachycephalic’. Pugs, Bulldogs and Boxers are all brachycephalic breeds. They have a flat face, a short skull and a squashed upper respiratory system.

Studies show that brachycephalic breeds are more likely to get brain tumors than other breeds. This might be because of the pressure their abnormal skulls put on their brains.

Brachycephalic dogs can also get more serious tumors than other breeds. Scientists don’t know why this is.

It’s important for owners of brachycephalic breeds, like French Bulldogs or Shih Tzus, to watch for signs of brain tumors. Examples are seizures, changes in behavior or trouble with coordination. Early detection is key to helping these pets. Regular check-ups at the vet are essential for their health. Knowing about brachycephalic breeds’ needs let’s owners keep their furry friends healthy and happy.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Brain Tumors in Dogs

Diagnosing and treating brain tumors in dogs can be a challenging process, but advancements in imaging techniques and ongoing research have led to a greater understanding of common primary brain tumors and treatment options.

Advanced Imaging Techniques

Advanced imaging tech is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors in dogs. These non-invasive techniques give a real-time look into the tumor’s location, size, and nature – enabling early detection of tumors that were hard to spot before.

CT, MRI, CSF Analysis, and PET are often used to diagnose brain tumors in dogs. CT employs x-rays to make detailed images of the brain, important for mass recognition and bone changes/injuries. MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to detect small changes in tissue structures – making it the go-to for intracranial abnormalities. CSF analysis differentiates between infectious causes and other abnormalities seen in imaging. PET has a radioactive substance that attaches to cancer cells, giving info on differential diagnoses like seizures.

These imaging techniques need trained radiologists and advanced tech. But they offer an accurate diagnosis for certain brain tumors, aiding patient management for dogs with these tumors.

Common Primary Brain Tumors

Primary brain tumors in dogs can be either benign or malignant. They come from the tissues within the brain, and symptoms depend on their location, size, and malignancy. Common types of these tumors include: meningiomas, gliomas (like astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas), pituitary adenomas, and choroid plexus papillomas.

Tumor Type Description
Meningioma Arise from the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain
Glioma Arise from the glial cells that protect and support the nerve cells
Pituitary Adenoma Arise from the pituitary gland, a small hormone producing gland at the base of the brain
Choroid Plexus Papilloma Arise from the choroid plexus, a structure that produces the cerebrospinal fluid

A table is provided to categorize and summarize information about these types of brain tumors, though they are not the only ones seen in dogs. Other factors that affect how the tumor behaves and responds to treatment are its location, invasiveness, and malignancy.

Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial to ensure the best outcomes for your pet. While unconventional solutions like personalized helmets may seem attractive, it is important to explore actual treatment options for your dog’s brain tumor. With the right care, many canine companions live happy and healthy lives even after a diagnosis of a brain tumor.

Treatment Options

Advanced imaging techniques such as CT scans, MRI and biopsy under anesthesia are used to confirm brain tumors in dogs. A vet neurologist will consider various treatments depending on the type, location, age of dog and symptoms.

Surgery is common to remove as much of the tumor as possible without harming healthy tissue. Radiation beams can be used to target areas of the brain. Chemotherapy can be used with surgery or radiation to treat less responsive tumors, but it can cause side effects. Pain meds, anti-seizure meds and steroids may be part of the treatment plan.

Research is exploring new treatments such as immunotherapy. There are several options depending on each dog’s individual circumstances.

Ongoing Research

Research is essential to finding better ways to diagnose and treat brain tumors in dogs. Researchers focus on improving outcomes by finding new imaging techniques to see the different types of brain tumors and where they are located, and exploring treatments. Also, research studies look at genetic mutations that cause certain breeds to get brain tumors, to improve early detection and treatment.

Historically, brain tumors had a bad prognosis for dogs. But now, imaging, surgery and radiation therapy have given hope for better outcomes. Treatments like drugs and other approaches, that target cell pathways or genetic mutations, have come out. Research aims to understand the disease better and help improve outcomes for dogs with brain tumors.


Wrapping it up, being aware of brain tumor symptoms in elderly doggos is important. As discussed in the article “Symptoms of brain tumor in elderly dogs,” changes in behavior, seizures, and loss of balance/coordination are key indicators. Other signs include vomiting, vision issues, and aggression.

It’s worth noting: a brain tumor diagnosis isn’t always a death sentence. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemo can help improve prognosis. While treatment can be pricey and difficult, it’s the best for your pup’s well-being.

The American Kennel Club states certain breeds (Boxers, Boston Terriers, and Golden Retrievers) are more prone to brain tumors. Consult a vet to keep your pup healthy.

Five Facts About Symptoms of Brain Tumor in Elderly Dogs:

  • ✅ Brain tumors are common in older dogs and can cause neurological symptoms such as seizures, changes in behavior, and loss of coordination. (Source:
  • ✅ Primary brain tumors in dogs include meningioma, glioma, choroid plexus papilloma, pituitary adenoma or adenocarcinoma, and others. (Source:
  • ✅ Meningioma is the most common primary brain tumor in dogs, cats, and humans. (Source:
  • ✅ Certain breeds, such as Boxers and Boston terriers, are at higher risk for developing brain tumors at a young age. (Source:
  • ✅ Symptoms of brain tumors in dogs can mimic other conditions, so it’s important to examine middle-aged or older dogs experiencing dysfunction in the brain. (Source: Atlantic Coast Veterinary)

FAQs about Symptoms Of Brain Tumor In Elderly Dogs

What are the symptoms of brain tumors in dogs?

The symptoms of brain tumors in dogs include neurological issues such as seizures, changes in behavior, loss of coordination, vestibular symptoms (loss of balance, head tilt, circling), hypersensitivity to pain or touch in the neck area, vision problems, and altered consciousness. Non-specific signs such as inappetance, lethargy, and inappropriate urination may also be seen.

What breeds of dogs are at a higher risk for developing brain tumors?

Certain breeds, such as Boxers and Boston terriers, are at risk for developing brain tumors at a young age. Dolichocephalic breeds are more likely to develop meningiomas, while brachycephalic breeds are more likely to develop gliomas.

Are all brain tumors in dogs malignant?

No, brain tumors in dogs can vary in malignancy. Some can be effectively treated, while others may be more difficult to manage.

How are brain tumors in dogs diagnosed?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common imaging technique used to detect brain tumors in dogs. However, brain cancer can often go undiagnosed in older dogs and cats due to the need for advanced imaging and may be treated for other issues first.

What causes brain tumors in dogs?

The cause of brain tumors in dogs is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors may contribute. There is ongoing research being conducted on brain tumors in pets.

Can signs of brain tumors in dogs be mistaken for other conditions?

Yes, the symptoms of brain tumors in dogs can be subtle and mimic other conditions, so veterinarians may first treat for soft tissue injury or arthritis. It is important to have middle-aged or older dogs experiencing dysfunction in the brain examined by a veterinary neurologist.

Joe Inglis
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