Pituitary Tumor Symptoms in Dogs

Pituitary tumor symptoms often include vision problems, hair loss, skin problems and lethargy. Pituitary tumors in canines are most commonly benign, but these tumors may also be malignant and may metastasize in other areas of the body. Due to the location of the tumor, this will have severe effects on the overall health of the dog, regardless if the tumor is benign or malignant. For this reason, an early detection of the problem is important, so you need to pay attention to your pet’s symptoms.

The Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland is situated under the brain and is an endocrine gland. The pituitary gland produces the adrenocorticotrophic hormones (ACTH), which are essential for all vital organs of the body. The pituitary gland is responsible for regulating the production of hormones in the adrenal and thyroid glands. Tumors may form on the pituitary gland, but as with other types of tumors and cancer, the reason is not known. Many pituitary gland tumors are benign and will not evolve, while some might grow rapidly and become malignant.

Symptoms of Pituitary Gland Tumors

Generally speaking, a tumor on the pituitary gland will cause the slow down of all body functions. The tumor may cause an excessive production of hormones. If the tumor is large enough, it will press on the brain, so there will be some clinical signs that can be observed in dogs that have such a tumor:

  • Impaired vision
  • Excessive water consumption (polydypsia)
  • Increased frequency of urination (polyuria)
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss
  • Dryness of skin
  • Acne and blackheads spreading through the entire body
  • Calcium mass formations on the surface of the skin
  • Redistribution of body fat
  • Reduced blood sugar
  • Pale gums
  • Reduced activity
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures and sudden collapse, if the intracranial pressure is increased due to a growth of the tumor
  • Persistent infections, as the immune system is weakened

Some of these symptoms are indicative of diabetes, so tests are needed to detect the exact problem and to establish if the tumor is benign or malignant.

Detecting Pituitary Tumors

X-rays, ultrasounds, an MRI and a CT scan will be needed to detect the tumor and its location. A biopsy may also be performed to detect any malignant cells. An ACTH stimulation test will be performed along with other blood tests to assess the overall condition of the pet. A urine test will reveal the fact that the urine is not concentrated, as the dog doesn’t have the capacity to concentrate the urine.

Treatment Options for Pituitary Tumors in Dogs

Surgery is recommended in most pets that have a pituitary gland tumor that causes severe symptoms. The surgery may be risky, so the vet will offer a few alternative options such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Only surgery can fully cure the dog’s condition, while the medication treatment may delay the dog’s death and add quality to his life. Typically, pituitary gland tumors will not disappear without treatment, not even if they are benign.