Dog Brain Tumor Treatment Options

A dog brain tumor is a serious yet often treatable medical condition often seen as part of dog cancer. Dog surgery, while often necessary, is not the only option for treatment. The treatment options may vary depending on whether the tumor is primary versus secondary, benign versus malignant although the basic four treatment options usually remain the same in treating dog cancer.

Categories of Treatment: Curative & Palliative

Treatment of a dog brain tumor falls into one of two categories. Curative treatment either seeks to eradicate the tumor or reduce its size. Palliative therapy reduces seeks to slow the growth of the tumor by reducing the surrounding brain edema or swelling. If seizures result from the brain tumor, palliative therapy includes antiepileptic drugs.

Dog Surgery

Several factors will determine whether or not surgery is the best treatment option for a dog brain tumor. The veterinarian will consider the precise type, size, location, invasiveness, and nature of the tumor as well as the general health of the animal. The goal of surgical removal of a brain tumor is either or to alleviate the clinical signs by decompressing the brain or to cure the disease by complete removal. Dog surgery rarely cures the disease, but removing the dog brain tumor can be life saving if it is very large. This can be life saving if the mass is very large. A tumor in certain locations of the brain such as the brainstem can be extremely dangerous and possibly fatal to remove. Some veterinary surgeons may then opt to remove only part of the tumor which can still greatly benefit the animal.

Radiation Therapy

Clinical and scientific research on dog brain tumors has established radiation therapy as a widely accepted treatment option. The goal is to destroy the tumor with minimal damage to the normal tissue. Veterinarians often employ radiation therapy on its own or in combination with other treatments, and it is effective on many types of tumors. General anesthesia is usually required for treatment. Radiation can be given on different schedules depending on the nature of the tumor. In some cases, the vet may recommend daily or every other day treatments. Radiation therapy may prove effective when given only once a month.


Little information is available to support or deny the effectiveness of chemotherapy on dog brain tumors and dog cancer. Very few chemotherapy drugs can cross the blood brain barrier but some recent advances in human brain cancer research may eventually penetrate the world of dog cancer treatment. Some tumors are only affected by high doses of chemotherapy which may then prove toxic to animals.

Palliative Treatment

The pet owner may opt to treat the symptoms caused by a dog brain tumor. Palliative treatment is a good choice when all other therapies are no longer an option or the dog is suffering from the results of the tumor. Palliative treatment usually addresses seizures and brain swelling. Dogs can usually tolerate an anti-seizure drug such as Phenobarbital or potassium bromide. A corticosteroid such as prednisone can treat brain edema or swelling. Some animals show a marked decrease in symptoms from brain edema in as little as 24 hours after the drug is administered even if the effects last only temporarily.

While a dog brain tumor is a serious issue, it does not have to mean an imminent death sentence for your dog. Some tumors can be cured and most can be treated to give your dog a bit more quality time with you.