Canine Brain Tumor Life Expectancy

Pet parents of dogs with brain tumors often ask, “Am I going to lose my dog because of the brain cancer?” It’s a scary question as we all love our best friends and don’t want to lose them. To help answer this question, have a look at the average dog brain tumor life expectancy.

Life expectancy in dogs with a brain tumor

The life expectancy of a dog with a brain tumor is different for every dog, but it depends on the size of the tumor, where in the brain it is located, and how fast it grows.

In most cases, a dog with a brain tumor will require surgery or radiotherapy. With treatment, the outlook is generally poor, with a median survival time of only 8 months. With supportive care alone, the average life expectancy is even less, at around 2 months.

​Unfortunately, with most types of brain tumors in dogs, the outlook is not good. This is especially true for gliomas, which are the most common canine brain tumors. These tumors can cause hemorrhaging in the brain and can be fatal. Medications used to treat brain tumors in dogs may only prolong their lives for a few weeks or months at best.

What is the progression timeline of a dog with a brain tumor?

In its early stages, a tumor may cause your dog to have difficulty walking, experience changes in mood, and have prolonged sleeping.

In the advanced stages, a dog may exhibit multiple symptoms including head tilt, poor coordination and circling or disorientation. They may also develop seizures, begin losing sight or show rapid eye movement (nystagmus).

The end stages of a canine brain tumor are often characterized by the following symptoms: seizures, head pressing, sudden behavioral changes such as fear or aggression, increased weight loss and disorientation.

Is it worth giving a dog Chemo?

The main reason to treat cancer in dogs with chemotherapy is that it can help to reduce their pain and improve their quality of life. Cancer is unfortunately often incurable in dogs. In these cases, chemo may still be recommended as a way to help ease your pet’s symptoms resulting from the disease.

Treating cancer in dogs with chemotherapy helps to slow down the development of the cancer, but unfortunately, it will not cure your pet. However, early detection can help with treatment, recovery, and prolonging your dog’s quality of life.

Treatment can take several months, during which time most owners will have to make drastic changes to the life their dog has previously enjoyed. In order to maximize your dog’s chances of survival, it is imperative that you look for treatment from an experienced veterinary oncologist, who can carefully monitor your dog’s progress and tailor treatment accordingly.

The most important thing is to start treatment as soon as possible. The earlier you start treating your dog, the better the chance of avoiding serious complications and increasing their life expectancy.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should throw money at the problem. If your dog has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, speak with your vet about treatment options and decide what’s best for your dog’s specific needs.

What are the treatment options?

Treating a dog with a brain tumor depends on the type of tumor and its location. Your vet will conduct diagnostic tests like an MRI, CT scan and biopsy to determine the exact nature of the growth.

Treatment options include medication, radiation therapy and surgery. Depending on the type of tumor, your vet might recommend a combination of treatments to ensure the best outcome for your canine companion.

Your dog’s veterinarian may recommend surgery to remove it entirely. After surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy may be recommended to ensure that all of the cancerous cells have been destroyed. Some dogs may go into remission while others will die from brain cancer within months of diagnosis. A dog’s reaction to treatment will depend on where the tumor is located and how aggressively it has grown.

In some cases, it might be best to let nature take its course rather than subjecting your dog to further medical treatment.

Are brain tumors in dogs fatal?

A brain tumor can be difficult to detect, especially in dogs. The earlier it’s caught, the better your dog’s chances of survival. Brain tumors in dogs can be benign or malignant. A benign brain tumor is noncancerous, but it can still cause serious complications and lead to death. A malignant brain tumor is cancerous and potentially life-threatening if not addressed quickly by a veterinarian.

When is it time to put a dog down with a brain tumor?

The most important thing is your dog’s quality of life. Treatment that could prolong their life may also prolong their suffering. If you feel that the treatment or surgery will cause more suffering than letting go, then it may be time to let go.

Treatment for a dog with a brain tumor includes surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, but it is rarely successful. Surgery can be used to treat the tumor, but if the tumor has spread and is affecting your dog’s vision or causing seizures, then there may not be enough time left to make a difference in the quality of life.

Radiation and chemotherapy can extend your dog’s life expectancy, but can also cause side effects that are difficult for dogs to cope with such as fatigue and nausea. These treatments may also extend your dog’s life for a few months, but will not increase the quality of their life.

Most owners want to do everything possible to help their dogs fight the cancer. But if you feel it is time to put your dog down with cancer, do so at home so you can spend as much time as possible together.

If you are unsure what to do, ask your veterinarian for advice. Your veterinarian has seen this situation many times before and they will give you their honest opinion based on what information they have.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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