Hydrotherapy for Hydrocephalus in Dogs
Smaller dogs, especially miniature and toy breeds are more affected by hydrocephalus. Snub nosed breeds such as the Boston Terrier, English Bulldog and Pekingese are at a higher risk. The Chihuahua, Manchester Terrier, Toy Poodle and Yorkshire Terrier are also predisposed to hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus in dogs is where there is an excess of cerebrospinal fluid that has leaked inside the dog’s skull. This causes brain swelling and is often referred to as water on the brain. Increased pressure in the skull will press on the brain tissues and can lead to permanent brain damage or cause death.
Symptoms of Hydrocephalus in Dogs
There are many symptoms of hydrocephalus in dogs for breeders and owners to watch for. Should you notice any of these symptoms, have your dog thoroughly examined by your veterinarian.
- Domed skull
- Wide set eyes
- Erratic or restless behavior
- Bumping into things
- Lack of coordination
- Compulsive circling
- Open fontanel or soft spot on the head
- Standing with legs crossed
- Weak back legs
- Smaller in size than littermates
- Kicking out front legs when walking
- Slow growth
- Difficulty in house training
- Difficulty drinking or eating
Causes of Hydrocephalus in Dogs
Hydrocephalus occurs when there is an abnormal amount of cerebrospinal fluid within the skull. This build-up of fluid within the skull will put pressure on the brain and cause severe problems for your dog. Hydrocephalus can be either congenital or acquired. Hydrocephalus in dogs has two main types with their own causes.
Congenital hydrocephalus is a birth defect. The skull will appear domed or apple shaped and a large open fontanel will be located on the top of the skull. It can be difficult to diagnose congenital hydrocephalus when dogs are very young. There are few obvious symptoms, until the puppy is walking and eating on their own. Not all puppies with large open fontanels will develop hydrocephalus.
Acquired hydrocephalus develops when the cerebrospinal fluid is blocked or altered; possibly by swelling, infection or tumor. Brain tumor is the most common cause of acquired hydrocephalus, but not all cases of acquired hydrocephalus are caused by tumors.
Diagnosis of Hydrocephalus in Dogs
When diagnosing hydrocephalus in young dogs, your veterinarian will look at the clinical symptoms to help determine the severity of the hydrocephalus. Usually, the presence of a large open fontanel and lack of coordination when walking will give your veterinarian an idea of what to look for. An ultrasound evaluation of the fontanel will show dilation of the brain ventricles. A CT scan or MRI scan will determine the exact source of the fluid build up. Tumors or other abnormalities will be seen on the various scans being performed.
Treatment of Hydrocephalus in Dogs
When hydrocephalus is caught in the early stages; treatment is done to reduce the inflammation within the brain tissue or the amount of cerebrospinal fluid being produced. Corticosteroids are commonly used.
Severe cases of hydrocephalus will be treated with corticosteroids, anti-seizure medications, furosemide, acetazolamide or omeprazole as needed and as directed by your veterinarian.
In some instances, surgery to place a ventriculoperitoneal shunt can be performed. This procedure will be performed by some veterinary teaching hospitals or veterinary specialist hospitals. Your veterinarian will refer you to a specialist if this procedure will be performed.
With acquired hydrocephalus, your veterinarian will develop a treatment plan that focuses primarily on the underlying condition causing the hydrocephalus. These treatments can be anything from medication support, surgery or even radiation therapy.
Keep your veterinarian informed of any changes in your dog’s condition. Be sure to follow the instructions on any medications prescribed to your dog for hydrocephalus. If your veterinarian refers you to a specialist, be sure to follow-up with any visits set by either your veterinarian or your veterinary specialist.
Hydrotherapy for Hydrocephalus in Dogs
The benefits of hydrotherapy for dogs who suffer from hydrocephalus are:
- Increase in coordination
- Increase of balance
- Builds healthy muscle
- Strengthens heart, lungs & brain
- Provides safe exercise
- Provides mental release
- Improves organ function
- Keeps skin health optimal
- Lubricates joints
- Strengthens bones
Recovery of Hydrocephalus in Dogs
The recovery time will depend on the severity of the hydrocephalus. In extreme cases, supportive care may be the only course of action to keep your dog comfortable.
Puppies with congenital hydrocephalus generally do well, once treatment has begun and if there has not been severe brain damage. Dogs that have been diagnosed with acquired hydrocephalus have varying recovery times and prognoses depending on the underlying cause and the ability to treat the condition.
Discuss your dog’s prognosis and recovery time with your veterinarian. Also discuss any on-going supportive care that may need to be provided throughout the life of your dog.
About Dip’ n Dogs Hydrotherapy – Orlando, FL
At Dip’n Dogs Hydrotherapy, we are certified and caring professionals devoted to restoring and enhancing the health and happiness of your beloved pup. Encompassing a pool, as well as a certified hydrotherapist, this can provide effective and long lasting results for your pet’s injury or illness. We are conveniently located in Winter Park, FL. Contact us today at (407) 227-0030. Our Services include the following: Outdoor Hydrotherapy and In-Home Mobile Therapy for dogs. We look forward to hearing from you!
CBD for Dogs: What It Is and How It Might Help With Your Dog’s Pain or Anxiety
Seemingly everyone wants to know about CBD for dogs. Just ask Leslie Sinn, CPDT-KA, DVM, and member of the Daily Paws advisory board: Her Behavior Solutions clients ask about using CBD products nearly every day.
Usually, they’ll wait until the very end of the consultation to bring it up, and Sinn knows what’s coming. After all, the CBD pet market is primed to grow massively over the next several years as it catches up with human CBD use.
“You’re going to ask me about CBD, aren’t you?” Sinn said in a lecture she gave last year.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to those CBD questions. Many veterinarians are eager and willing to learn more about CBD products, since some research and anecdotal evidence indicate it can ease pain and anxiety. But we’re still learning how the oils, chews, and gels might be able to help our dogs. Consensus has grown to a point where many pet health professionals view CBD products as a treatment worth trying, says Narda G. Robinson, DO, DVM, MS, FAAMA.
Another complicating factor: CBD products fall under the laws of wherever you live. In some areas, your veterinarian might not even be allowed legally to talk with you about a CBD product. They aren’t prescribed, so in most cases dog owners are on their own looking for a CBD product.
“Accessing the product is not as much of a hurdle as knowing what’s in it,” Robinson tells Daily Paws. The largely unregulated market means it’s difficult to guarantee how much CBD is in a product, and what other additives might be part of the makeup. (More on that later.)
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, comes from cannabis plants. However, unlike marijuana, it doesn’t contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC. That’s what’s responsible for marijuana’s high.
The CBD compound interacts with humans’ and dogs’ endocannabinoid systems (ECS), which keeps our bodies’ other systems working smoothly, Sinn says. The ECS receptors, which also help regulate pain, are found throughout our bodies-brain, muscles, liver, spleen-meaning CBD has an “enormous potential for influencing disease outcomes,” she adds. It’s why you might hear of dog owners using CBD to treat anything from anxiety to seizures to cancer.
A clarification before we go on: Don’t give your dog marijuana. It’s not a CBD product, and it’s actually toxic to dogs, sending them to the emergency vet in some cases, Sinn says. In early 2019, the ASPCA measured a 765 percent increase in calls on pet marijuana ingestion as more states legalized cannabis use.
Is CBD OK for Dogs?
Generally, CBD products are considered safe for dogs, though you’ll want to do your research to find out what else is in the product. For instance, some human CBD products include xylitol, which is toxic for dogs. If you can, talk with your veterinarian about products you’re thinking about using because they know your dog’s medical history best and should be able to guide you regarding side affects or interactions with drugs your pet may already be taking. Your vet might be able to advise you, but you will likely have to be the one to bring it up, according to Consumer Reports.
Side effects from CBD products can include excessive sedation and diarrhea, Robinson and Sinn say. Remember, though, a dog taking a CBD product for pain or anxiety might experience side effects from something else in the CBD mixture, not the cannabidiol itself.
While it’s considered safe, the research is still new, so we don’t know how frequent CBD use could affect dogs in the long run.
“We don’t know in the long term what the changes are in the body from something like CBD,” Robinson says.
Can CBD Help Treat My Dog’s Health Conditions?
Maybe! This is where limited research and anecdotal evidence converge, so it’s best to approach your vet about this. Keep in mind that there are many variables at play here: the dog, the dog’s medication, and the specific CBD product, for instance.
“When you compare [CBD products] to some of these pharmaceuticals, it does seem worth a try even though you’re going to be cautious and want to see that animal again and follow them up,” Robinson says.
Here are some of the common health conditions that cause pet owners to turn to CBD products-likely because they’re struggling to find a product that works after previous attempts have not helped their pet’s condition:
A study published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science showed that a CBD-based oil helped a collection of beagles with osteoarthritis experience “increase[d] comfort and activity in the home environment.” It’s a small study, but it shows CBD can work.
Pain and Inflammation
According to a 2016 survey Robinson helped conduct, more than 60 percent of 299 dog owners reported that hemp products (which contain CBD) either greatly or moderately relieved their dogs’ pain (33 percent saw no difference). When asked if the products helped reduce inflammation, a little more than 40 percent said it had, but 54 percent of the 271 people to answer that question saw no difference.
Robinson says that some people will give their dogs CBD products when they’ve been diagnosed with cancer. The products can potentially help with the side effects, but they don’t cure the cancer at all. “If you delay proper care where something might have been more curative, you could be worsening [the sickness],” she says.
In the 2016 survey, nearly half of 282 respondents said hemp products helped ease anxiety in some way. Even more anecdotally, Jeffrey Powers, DVM, told Consumer Reports that CBD helps calm his Saint Bernard’s noise anxiety. However, a 2020 study on CBD’s effects on firework-related anxiety wasn’t as promising.
There’s promising news here. A 2019 study from Colorado State University researchers showed that 89 percent of dogs who took CBD saw a reduction in the frequency of their seizures. Now, only nine dogs received CBD, so the study was small, but the leader of the study, neurologist Stephanie McGrath, DVM, MS, DACVIM, told Science Daily, “It’s really exciting that perhaps we can start looking at CBD in the future as an alternative to existing anti-convulsive drugs.”
How to Find Safe CBD Products for Dogs
Vets can’t prescribe CBD products, but they may be able to recommend CBD products to you. If that’s possible, follow your vet’s advice. But you might be on your own in some cases, depending on local laws. The good news is CBD dog chews and oils are widely available. The bad news is that there are a lot of options to sift through.
Robinson recommends looking at companies that have done their own research on CBD and hemp products. She mentions ElleVet as an example of a company that has funded research on its own products. That provides at least some scrutiny in an industry that so far lacks standardization. (Remember: No THC!)
When you’re browsing, Sinn recommends looking for products to have two things: a National Animal Supplement Council seal and a certificate of analysis (COA), which means a third party has evaluated the product. These evaluations generally mean the product was manufactured in a safe, high-quality environment and that it’s been made with safe ingredients. The COA certificate in particular costs a pretty penny, which might make the CBD supplement more expensive. But that’s better than the alternative-potentially giving your pet a product with hazardous contaminants such as heavy metals or fungicide.
“If it’s cheap, there’s a reason why it’s cheap,” Sinn says.
Once you have the product, you should administer it using the low-and-slow method, Robinson says, starting with a low CBD dose before working your way up to what the manufacturer recommends. If you end up seeing no real difference, you can always try a different product. Just make sure you talk with a trusted health professional first.