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Pet Health Concerns: Hydrocephalus


The Chihuahua is one dog breed prone to hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus is the buildup of fluid on the brain. The pressure of the fluid pushes the brain up against the skull, damaging or destroying brain tissues. A dog can be born with this condition or can develop it later in life.

There are many possible causes of hydrocephalus, including the following:

  • An obstruction that prevents the fluid from flowing normally throughout the brain
  • The inflammation of the brain
  • Meningitis
  • A brain tumor
  • A head injury
  • Bleeding in the brain

The main symptoms of hydrocephalus are lethargy, lack of coordination, vomiting, and a noticeable change in personality. Often, the dog will also have a domed skull. However, it’s important to know that some dogs may not show any clinical symptoms at all.

In the most unfortunate situation, the condition is so severe and present at birth that the puppy will pass away. However, in most situations, the condition is treatable. Corticosteroids are often used to slow the production of the fluid and sometimes a shunt is surgically inserted to drain the excess fluid to another part of the body to be absorbed.

While any dog breed can develop this condition, brachycephalic breeds and toy breeds are the most prone. These breeds include the Chihuahua, Boston Terrier, Pug, Bulldog, and Maltese.

About Heather @FamilyAndFur

Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue. Google+

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