Your dog has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. You may not even know what that means, let alone how to fix it.
Understandably, you may be panicking. You just want your puppy to feel better.
Luckily, recent advances in veterinary science mean there are many treatment options, both medical and holistic, that you can employ.
These treatment options can include the help of CBD oil!
My Dog Has A Brain Tumor. What Does That Mean?
A tumor is a large clump of abnormal cells. They grow and divide quickly, building up in a small space and causing swelling. This swelling is not due to an inflammatory response but to the pressure from the tumor.
A tumor can either be benign (meaning it is not dangerous, perhaps just a nuisance) or malignant (which means it is cancerous). If a tumor is malignant, it can metastasize, or spread to the surrounding tissues.
A brain tumor is categorized as either primary or secondary. A primary brain tumor means the abnormal cells are those that belong to the nervous system - the brain, spinal cord, or nerves. Secondary brain tumors metastasized from another system or organ or developed in non-nervous system tissue in close proximity (such as a nasal cavity).
There are no known risk factors that increase your dog’s likelihood of developing cancer or tumors. The causes of these diseases are unknown.
As of right now, there is no known course of action to prevent the development of tumors.
How Do You Diagnose A Brain Tumor In A Dog?
While there is no test that can give you a definitive diagnosis at home, there are some signs of a brain tumor you can look for.
The symptoms of a brain tumor may show outwardly only as the tumor grows. As the tumor gets larger, it puts more and more pressure on certain areas of the brain. This decreases the functionality of those specific areas.
Early-stage tumors are not very big and may not have an immediate visible impact on your dog’s behavior or wellbeing. The onset of symptoms can appear very rapid because the tumor is already large by the time they are noticeable.
Symptoms of a brain tumor can include:
- Uncharacteristic aggression or an abrupt change in behavior
- Decreased cognitive function
- Loss of large motor skills, developing an unsteady gait, or uncoordinated movements
- Hypersensitivity to touch or pain, especially in the neck and face
- Loss of sight or hearing
- Impulsive, compulsive circling
- Repeated head shaking
- Extreme lethargy
If your dog suddenly appears to be behaving differently, holds himself awkwardly, loses his appetite completely, or collapses, call your vet immediately. It could be a sign your dog needs urgent life-saving treatment.
When you visit your veterinarian, mention any unusual symptoms your dog had been displaying. He will likely address your concerns as he does a physical examination. This will usually include palpating the various parts of your dog’s body.
He may do a quick neurological exam. This can include observing your dog’s eyes in different lights and as they detect motion. It can also consist of specific movements designed to test how the halves of your dog’s brain work together.
If your vet has any reason to suspect a brain tumor, he will order blood work. He wants to make sure there are no other diseases or illnesses to handle. He also wants to check white blood cell count and platelets.
X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs may be ordered as well.
If a brain tumor is the diagnosis you may want to follow up with a canine oncologist or neurologist.
They may want to perform a biopsy, which is the process of surgically taking a sample of the tumor and the surrounding brain matter. This is then sliced paper-thin and observed closely under a microscope. It can define the cells as neurons (cells from the nervous system) and show evidence of cancer if there is any.
Are There Other Neurological Problems I Need To Watch Out For?
If your dog appears to be experiencing neurological problems, keep a journal of the symptoms you are noticing. The frequency and intensity with which they appear could be key in the diagnostic process.
Call your veterinarian if you have questions.
Some common nervous system problems dogs experience can mimic the symptoms of a brain tumor.
Other potential diagnoses include:
- Vestibular damage or disease. The vestibule is a part of the inner ear. It is partially responsible for balance.
- Epilepsy, or recurring seizures
- Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord that disables a dog completely, beginning with loss of coordination and balance
- Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disease of the nervous system that starts with tremors and muscular rigidity
If your dog is suffering from any of these conditions or a brain tumor, there are options to keep his mobility intact.
Dog boots, for instance, can help stabilize and flatten his feet while he walks. It can provide balance.
Harnesses that lift his rear end may help your dog stay active with you. You carry his back half while he walks on his front legs.
Wheelchairs and carts are available as well.
Are There Any Treatment Options?
There are currently only a few medical treatment options for brain tumors in dogs.
Surgery is usually the first step. The goal of tumor surgery is ‘debulking’, or making the tumor smaller.
Surgery is, of course, not without risks. An allergic reaction to anesthesia could cause problems for your dog during his operation. The risk of infection afterward is also a concern.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are often used in conjunction with removal or debulking surgery. Chemotherapy protocols for dogs are very similar to those for a human and include injectable drugs that kill cancer cells body-wide. Radiation therapy is much more localized and carries the risk of burning the skin.
Medication is a good treatment option and is usually offered alongside surgery and chemotherapy. There are two types of medications associated with cancer and tumor treatment: those that treat the abnormal cells directly and those that treat the symptoms the dog is experiencing, either from the disease itself or as side effects from other treatments.
Steroid shots are common to halt the growth of the tumor. Immunotherapy, antibody therapy, targeted therapy, or hormone therapy are all also emerging treatments for animals.
Brain tumors often present with seizures, which come with their own set of treatment standards.
In order to minimize the impact these seizures have on your dog’s healthy brain matter, a vet may recommend:
- Oxygen therapy
- Recurring imaging and examination to check the brain for dangerous swelling and dying tissue
Most veterinarians and specialists recommend a combination of the above treatments. Your dog’s specific plan will be dependent on a number of individual factors. Your pet care team can answer any questions you may have.
With the right approach, you could extend your dog’s life expectancy by months or even years.
If you want or need to supplement medical treatment with holistic options, you have a number of avenues to explore.
Solid nutrition is absolutely crucial. Most experts recommend you give your dog a mix of specialized dry kibble and whole organic human foods.
The best options are:
- Sardines in oil and other fatty fish
- Fresh meats (either raw or cooked)
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Fruits, especially blueberries and apples
- Fresh garlic (stick to small amounts, around a clove a day)
- Safflower oil
The goal is to minimize your dog’s intake of carbohydrates and maximize his intake of fresh produce and healthy fats.
There are also nutritional supplements you can utilize to help your dog’s body fight the tumor. Try:
- Digestive enzymes and probiotics
- Vitamin C
- Fish oil
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B complex
- Vitamin E
- Coenzyme Q10
Herbs and acupuncture are popular in eastern medicine. An herbal medicine called neoplasene is available only through your veterinarian. Medicinal mushrooms are showing promise in many scientific studies. CBD oil can help in a number of ways.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical compound found in various parts of the hemp plant. Hemp is a close cousin of marijuana but does not contain enough THC to induce a psycho reactive high.
Hemp is used all over the world as raw material for textiles, building, and food. It grows easily even in poor soil and can be harvested in as little as two months (which allows for quick successive planting).
The hemp is grown, harvested, and processed. The CBD is extracted from the pulp, separated from any impurities, and distilled in alcohol.
CBD is safe, with virtually no major side effects. Minor diarrhea and drowsiness have been reported most often.
CBD is one of 80 known cannabinoids in hemp. They interact with a system called the ECS, or endocannabinoid system, which is made up of specialized cell membrane receptors that specifically bind to CBD.
The ECS has been directly linked to a huge number of essential biological functions, all of which contribute to an animal being able to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the body’s ability to maintain its internal environment (and therefore sustain life) despite the changes in the external environment.
The endocannabinoid system also positively affects:
- Your quality of sleep
- The hormones your body releases that could be responsible for the development of anxiety and depression
- Body-wide inflammation
- Pain, especially due to chronic illness
- The development of cardiovascular disease
- The frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy
- Immune function
- The speed at which your muscles repair themselves after injury or athletic activity
- Digestion, minimizing the instances of nausea and vomiting
CBD helps affects the growth of tumors and the spread of cancer cells. It can also alleviate the worst of the side effects of other medications and treatments. CBD oil can be a wonderful addition to your pets brain tumor treatment plan!
Make absolutely certain to tell your veterinarian if you plan to supplement with CBD. CBD has been shown to suppress the function of certain immunotherapy drugs, which could have the opposite effect on your dog. It can also limit the ability of the liver to release enzymes that help metabolize certain prescription medications.
How Do I Use CBD Oil?
Should you decide to use CBD oil to control your dog’s tumor, you can likely find a local health and supplement shop that carries the products you want. Cannabidiol has seen a surge in popularity in the past few years; many companies want their products in storefronts to increase visibility and profit.
A local store may be a good place to ask questions, learn the lingo, and gain a familiarity with the array of products available, but they may not have the exact pet CBD oil you need.
Google can help! Just plug in the words “CBD oil for pets” and millions of hits come up. This will contain both informational articles and product suppliers, so if you need to further limit your search try also using the words “purchase”, “high quality”, and “dog brain tumor”, or similar keywords.
Before you take to the internet to find your dog’s CBD, it is a wise idea to spend a few minutes learning about what makes a CBD product high-quality.
Look at the website you are planning to purchase from. Above all, it should be clean, easy-to-read, and professional. It should contain all the information you need on each product page. It should have a secure payment processing system.
Make sure to ask for an independent lab analysis for each product you plan to purchase. This report will tell you the exact concentration of CBD in your oil as well as the concentration of THC. The industry limit is .3 percent. It should also list any impurities or additives present.
Choose products made with organic USA-grown hemp. These products are going to be grown, harvested, and turned into your dog’s oil under very strict guidelines. There are several federal agencies that oversee the industry to ensure your purchase is safe and pure.
Conventionally-grown hemp may be contaminated with pesticides and chemicals; these can end up in your dog and can cause tumors and cancerous growths.
Avoid buying a cheap product. High-quality CBD oil is not inexpensive. A lesser product could save you a little money now but can seriously negatively impact your pet's health.
Once you find a reputable online shop, you should be able to search for pet-specific CBD products.
There is no major difference between pure human and pure dog CBD oil, as the primary ingredient (CBD) should be the same. Additives are the main concern for your pet.
Some manufacturers will add ingredients into oil products to make it more palatable or more helpful to humans. Certain essential oils are approved for human consumption but can be toxic to dogs. Likewise, with xylitol, an artificial sweetener often used in sugar-free treats.
By buying online, you will have a large range of products to choose from. It will be easy to find pure oil, which many customers choose for easy dosage tracking.
Some other options include:
- Edibles. These are often in the form of gummies for humans and snacks and treats for dogs. You may find cheese and bacon flavored jerky for your pet, for instance, that is infused with CBD oil.
- Tinctures are popular because they are fast and efficient. They are sprayed inside the cheek or held under the tongue and absorbed directly into the bloodstream. A tincture is simply the active ingredient (CBD here) suspended in alcohol but not added to the oil.
- Pills and capsules
- Skincare products, like lotions and massage oils, that contain CBD. These may also be made with essential oils and Epsom salts to help aching muscles relax.
- Vape pen cartridges are becoming popular, but are absolutely NOT pet-friendly. These may also contain THC or nicotine.
You will find many different concentrations of CBD in each product, usually expressed as a percentage of the entire product. 10 percent of this oil may be CBD, for instance, while 35 percent of that tincture may be CBD.
There are many factors that go into figuring out the concentration you need to buy for your dog’s tumor. It is generally advised to start slowly, at a low concentration, and work your way up slowly.
Age, body weight, the severity of the health condition being treated, and other factors may affect the dosage your dog needs. There are many free online CBD calculators that can tell you a good starting dose. If you have any more questions, your veterinarian's office can answer them.
Above all, make sure to call your vet if your dog shows any abrupt change in behavior, physical appearance, or ability. These may be symptoms of something very serious that necessitates immediate life-saving care.
If your dog is diagnosed with a brain tumor, there IS hope. With high-quality CBD oil, you could dramatically improve the quality of his life and enjoy more time with your beloved pet.
Sources:Cannabinoids in cancer treatment
CBD Oil for Dogs with Cancer
Cannabis for brain tumors?
CBD shows promise for fighting aggressive brain cancer