Signs & Symptoms of Brain Disease in Canines


Brain disease in canines can range from a variety of disorders such as canine idiopathic vestibular disease, stroke, epilepsy, infections, physical injury and brain tumors. Brain cancer is not uncommon in older dogs, and some breeds are more predisposed to brain diseases than others. For example, brain tumors seem to be a trend in boxers and Boston terriers, according to North Carolina State University. If you notice your dog exhibiting any of the follow symptoms, have him evaluated by a vet for a diagnosis. Your vet will likely perform a full examination and possibly a CT scan or MRI to confirm brain disease in your dog.

Behavioral Abnormalities

Your dog may seem depressed or may have forgotten learned behaviors. The dog may seem less aware, and his activity level may decrease. He may show an increase in appetite or thirst. He may be extra sensative to touch and may even become irritable. The dog may press his head against a hard surface. Some dogs may constantly circle or pace or act as if it is in pain or disoriented. Behavioral changes may signal that a seizure is imminent.


According to North Carolina State University, “new onset of seizures is the most common presenting sign of animals with tumors,” especially in the forebrain, which is responsible for thinking. Seizures may be the only symptom your dog exhibits, or it may accompany other symptoms. Seizures can also be caused by other forms of brain disease such as epilepsy.

Loss of Coordination

Some types of brain disease and tumors may cause a “drunken” gait in the dog, head tilt, loss of appetite, vomiting and involuntary flicking of the eyes. He may exhibit dramatic goosestepping in his gait, a wide-based stance and he may appear wobbly. The dog may turn the wrong way when he is called, act confused and possibly go blind. He may also experience loss of bowel or bladder control. Some dogs experience facial paralysis

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