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CBD & Brain Tumors In Dogs [Explained]

CBD & Brain Tumors In Dogs [Explained]

Hearing that your pet has a brain tumor is not easy but brain tumors in dogs are common, just as they are in humans. Although tumors in pets are sadly often incurable, a lot can be done to slow the growth of the tumor, and to extend the life of the dog.


Brain tumors can be removed through surgery and treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, just as they can be in humans. You can also alleviate the symptoms of brain tumors as well as the side effects of cancer treatments with medication and other herbal treatments, like CBD oil.


If you think your dog might have a brain tumor, or has already been diagnosed with a tumor, here is what you need to know about brain tumors in dogs, and how CBD is currently being used to help alleviate the worst of the symptoms.


What Is A Brain Tumor?

In medical terms, a tumor is simply defined as an abnormal growth of cells. Tumors are classified as either primary tumors or secondary tumors. A primary brain tumor is one that has originated from the cells that would usually be found in the brain.

A secondary tumor is one that has been caused by a cancer that has spread from another part of the body. Secondary tumors can also occur when a tumor develops in a part of the body adjacent to the brain, such as nearby bone or the nasal cavity, and then extends into the brain.




What Causes Brain Tumors In Dogs?

The precise causes of brain tumors in dogs are unknown, as are the risk factors that are involved in the development of tumors in dogs. It is assumed that the risk factors are the same as those for humans, including environmental factors, diet, and genetics.


Brain tumors are, sadly, quite common in dogs over five years old. There is also evidence to suggest that primary tumors originating from the membranes that cover the brain, which are known as meningiomas. This type of tumor is more commonly found in dolichocephalic breeds of dogs, such as Afghan Hounds, German Shepherds, and Great Danes.


What Are The Symptoms Of A Brain Tumor In Dogs?

The symptoms of a brain tumor in dogs are usually progressive, but they can in some cases appear quite suddenly. The symptoms are caused by the tumor invading the tissue of the brain or pressing down on it. The most common symptom in older dogs is the sudden onset of seizures, but there are many other symptoms that might indicate the presence of a brain tumor, and some of those symptoms might come and go in the early stages of the disease.


The Most Common Symptoms Of A Brain Tumor In Dogs Are:

  • Seizures
  • Inability to walk
  • Behavioral changes
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Partial paralysis
  • Signs of pain in the head and neck
  • Circling and pacing
  • Loss of vision on one side


Caring for your dog brain tumor


How Are Brain Tumors In Dogs Diagnosed?

Generally, the onset of any neurologic symptoms in an older pet will be treated as a possible sign of a brain tumor. Diagnosis will then include a full physical check of the dog and a neurological examination. Blood samples will also be analyzed, and X-rays will be taken of the chest and abdomen.


Because most brain tumors are not visible on an X-ray of the skull, it is usual for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scan of the dog’s brain to be carried out as well. If a tumor does appear to be present, a sample of the growth will be taken to determine the type of tumor and to assess the malignancy of the growth.


What’s The Life Expectancy of a Dog With A Brain Tumor?

It is very difficult to predict how long a pet will live with a brain tumor, because there are so many variables. The life expectancy of a dog with a brain tumor will depend on the type of tumor, its location in the brain, the treatments used, the age and the general health of the dog, and how soon the condition is diagnosed.


With successful surgery followed by radiotherapy, a dog’s life might be extended by as much as 12 to 20 months, if surgery is not possible and radiotherapy alone is used, life expectancy will usually be approximately 8-14 months, and if corticosteroids alone are prescribed, life expectancy will be in the region of 1-6 months.


The important thing to remember is that the treatments for brain tumors in dogs are designed to extend the amount of time that the dog can enjoy a good quality of life. If your vet believes that your pet is suffering or unhappy, it is likely that the vet will recommend the treatment be stopped.




How Much Does an MRI Cost for My Dog?

If your vet recommends that your dog has an MRI scan, it can be a very expensive procedure, but it may be the only way to get a clear understanding of the extent of a tumor in a dog.


An MRI creates an image by using radio waves and a magnetic field. The patient needs to stay perfectly still during an MRI scan, so your dog will need to be anesthetized. The MRI machine looks like a small tunnel, into which your dog will be placed. The results of an MRI are much clearer and more detailed than any other types of diagnostic scan, so it will help your vet determine the best course of treatment for your dog.


An MRI scan for a dog will cost in the region of $2,000 – $4,000 and it will usually be carried out in a specialist MRI scanning center or a neurological veterinary office. The main reason that MRI scans are so expensive is that MRI requirement can cost as much as $1 million to purchase, and then it needs to be housed in a special facility to ensure that the strong magnetic field an MRI machine emits doesn’t affect the surrounding area.


RELATED ARTICLE: CBD and Mast Cell Tumors In Dogs Explained


How To Care For A Dog With A Brain Tumor?

Seeing a beloved pet with an illness like a brain tumor can be very difficult to cope with, and it is important that you give your dog the best care that you can. In addition to the recommended treatments provided by your vet, your dog is likely to also need some extra special care at home.


The primary aim of caring for a dog with a brain tumor is to make life as comfortable as possible for your pet. You may be able to ease the symptoms of the disease for your dog by administering medications, such as painkillers and steroids, which your vet will advise you about, and you may find that administering alternative herbal medicine, such as CBD, may also ease the symptoms.


You will also need to monitor your dog’s intake of food and water, because your pet may be reluctant to eat and drink on some days. A quiet place where your dog can eat food undisturbed may be useful. Make sure that there is always plenty of water available in an easy-to-reach location. Your vet will advise you on the special nutritional needs of your dog, but you will probably find that your dog will prefer soft, easy to digest food.


Your dog is likely to need additional general care as well. The dog could be unsteady on their feet or have a poor sense of balance, so extra safety precautions may have to be taken to keep your dog safe. The dog may also not be as clean as it used to be, and it may have accidents in the home, so you may have to bathe the dog regularly to prevent skin irritations and infections.


Palliative care for a dog is the same as it is for humans. You are trying to make the dog’s life as comfortable as possible for the time the dog has left. While it is an incredibly hard decision to make, you also must recognize when the time has come that palliative care, treatment, and medication are simply not giving the dog a reasonable quality of life anymore.





Unfortunately, in most cases, brain tumors in dogs can be treated, but they cannot often be cured. The treatments for brain tumors in dogs are very much the same as they are for brain tumors in people. Treatments proposed may include surgery to remove the cancerous cells, radiation therapy to slow the growth of the tumor, and sometimes chemotherapy might be suggested, but this is not a very common recommendation for treating dogs with brain tumors, because it is often ineffective.

Corticosteroids may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Many vets will also suggest natural alternative therapies, such as CBD, which may reduce inflammation and pain, and sometimes slow the growth of the tumor.

CBD & Brain Tumors In Dogs

Research has shown that CBD can reduce the symptoms of brain tumors in dogs and, in some cases, slow the growth of the cancerous cells. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the many unique compounds that are found only in the cannabis plant. CBD Is not the psychoactive compound in cannabis that provides the cannabis high, that’s THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, so CBD will not make your dog high.


Reduces Symptoms & Side Effects

There is growing evidence that supports CBD as an aid in reducing the symptoms that are associated with cancerous tumors, as well as the symptoms that are caused by treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, such as nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.


Acts As A Pain Killer & An Anti-Inflammatory Agent

It has also been shown that CBD may reduce the direct symptoms of a brain tumor, by blocking the pain signals to the brain and reducing inflammation. The pain relief properties of CBD, both in humans and in pets, has been well-documented.


CBD May Slow The Growth Of A Brain Tumor In A Dog

There is growing body of evidence to suggest that CBD can slow the growth of a tumor. It does this by inhibiting the process of angiogenesis, which is the process of creating of new blood vessels in tumors. In a study published by British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, it was also noted that CBD can help prevent cancer cells spreading.


Using CBD To Treat A Dog With A Brain Tumor

Many people are reluctant to administer CBD to a dog, because of their association of the compound with cannabis. CBD is, however, non-toxic, non-addictive, and it is not a psychoactive compound. Medical research into the potential benefits of CBD are ongoing, but results are suggesting that CBD oil may have many beneficial properties, for humans and animals alike.


There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates that administering CBD oil to dog can reduce the symptoms of a brain tumor, reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and possibly even slow the growth of the tumor and prevent the cancer from spreading.


READ NEXT: Your Full Guide to Pet Cancers and Tumors



Marcin Ossowski

Marcin Ossowski is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from UCLA in 2007 with a major in linguistics and a minor in biology. During his time there, he undertook original research in neurolinguistics and cognitive science, specifically focusing on language disorders and dementia. Over the past decade, he has worked as a writer and researcher for several political consulting firms, taught English abroad in Poland, and ghostwritten two books. In his downtime, Marcin spends a lot of time outdoors and actively pursuing his passion for writing fiction, creative nonfiction, and satire.

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