All types of cancer have a great deal of variance in the clinical signs that they produce. Animal diagnosis is tough since they cannot communicate what they are feeling or describe the various issues with different parts of their body. The diagnosis can only be based on a keen observation of the symptoms and diagnostic tests. The situation is more alarming in the case of canine brain tumors.
Though a dog can be afflicted with any form of tumor, a tumor of the brain is most common. This tumor consists of tissue that surrounds and supports neurons in the central nervous system, and meningiomas is a tumor that arises in the meninges which surround the brain and spinal cord.
Seizures are one of the most common symptoms associated with brain tumors. But even these do not provide conclusive evidence because seizures are episodic in nature and may occur after a long time. Seizures are also symptoms of some other mental ailments, and therefore cannot prove the existence of a brain tumor. Since seizures can occur after long gaps, most dog owners tend to become complacent. Some other symptoms to watch for include:
- An unsteady gait and difficulty in climbing stairs and walking on uneven ground.
- Sudden unexplained aggression.
- Dramatic change in behavior like increased barking, pacing and licking.
- Refusal to eat or excessive eating.
- Loss of eyesight, hearing and sense of smell.
- Confused looks and failure to accept commands. Getting lost in previously known places and not recognizing familiar faces.
- Loss of bladder control in dogs that have been toilet trained.
- Whining, whimpering or yipping without any apparent reason (often a sign of pain).
- Scratching or shaking head or rubbing it against objects.
Brain cancer is an entirely different field of study in veterinary as well as human medicine. Nearly all types of cancers like liver and pancreatic cancer in dogs as well as canine lung cancer take their time to manifest in a way that provides clear signals to aid diagnosis. Growth of brain cancer in dogs is much slower than other cancers. It may actually originate in young dogs, but may manifest itself in some way or another when the dog is much older.
There is a strong possibility that brain cancer is mistaken for geriatric separation disorder, a condition where a dog suddenly wakes up in the middle of the night seeking attention, but is difficult to console. Instead of trying to diagnose such changes in dog behavior on your own, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian to rule out a brain tumor.