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S. Waters, DVM
S. Waters, DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 44
Experience:  13 years in the veterinary field, specializing in immunology and infectious disease
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My 8-10 week old puppy has hydrocephalus. I am living in South

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My 8-10 week old puppy has hydrocephalus. I am living in South Korea and am having a little bit of difficulty in the language department with my vet. He tells me that with medicine my puppy will only live 6 months to a year. I ask him if we need to put him down and he says maybe not right not, but in a couple of months. I feel like he doesn't want me to put the puppy down right now, but it doesn't seem to me like we shouldn't. I am confused.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  S. Waters, DVM replied 7 years ago.
Hi, I'm Dr. Sarah, and I'll do my best to help. One of the main things guiding prognosis in these guys is whether they are suffering seizures or having any neurologic signs. Does your puppy have these? If so, can you describe them?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
No seizures or neurological signs.
Expert:  S. Waters, DVM replied 7 years ago.
OK, most cases of hydrocephalus do not make it past the age of 2 when left untreated, but if this is a mild case, then the lifespan is potentially a little better. However, there are treatments available that can help. I do not know of the availability of veterinary neurologists in South Korea, but there is a surgery which can treat this condition called a venticuloperitoneal shunt. This surgery has about an 80% success rate in treating this malformation; however, this does tend to be a very expensive option. If the dog is not currently suffering neurologic signs, I'm guessing that is probably the reason your vet isn't ready to pull the plug yet. It's when they begin to suffer seizures, blindness, etc. that euthanasia becomes a more humane option. There are several medications that can help in reducing the severity of the condition and likely improve survival time. Has your vet prescribed any medications? If so, which ones has he prescribed?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

He has presribed diueritcs, but he said he will only live 6 months to a year. I really don't want to see him get worse and suffer. We do not have a car here so if something happens after hours we can't take an sort of public transportation to the vet. I don't want him to suffer and I also don't want to have even more heartbreak down the road. I just don't want to jump the gun and have him put down or have to feel like a monster for doing so. He will also eventually have to get on a plane. And with this condition I don't know if that would even be a possibility.

Expert:  S. Waters, DVM replied 7 years ago.
Well, in the absence of neurologic signs, I think you have some time to ponder this. Hydrocephalic dogs can live relatively happy lives if they are not having seizures, blindness, etc., so my feeling is that you don't need to worry about him suffering as things stand currently. I agree with your concern about taking him on the plane, however. Your vet could be right about his life expectancy, or he could be completely wrong and he'll make it to 2 years or even past that, so I cannot comment much on that. It is not a black and white situation. Having seen owners who put their animals down for considerably less, I do not think you're a 'monster' for considering it. I want to assure you that whatever decision you make about it, it is not a 'wrong' decision as you are obviously trying to consider what is in the puppy's best interest, so I recommend you give it some thought. All that said, there are a couple of drugs that can help slow the progression of things in addition to the diuretics. I don't know their availability where you are, but you can ask your veterinarian about them. One drug, omeprazole, is a gastroprotectant and has actually been shown to decrease the production of fluid in the brain by a quarter, although nobody can currently explain why that is. The other drug that seems to help is prednisone, which is a steroid. It can help to reduce some of the brain swelling that can occur with this condition. If you decide to give the little guy some more time, I'd recommend exploring whether these drugs are possibilities as they are both relatively inexpensive (at least in the U.S.). Please let me know if you have any more questions, and I hope I have been helpful.
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