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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20908
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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My dog has hydrocephalus and seems to be quite severe. I am

Customer Question

my dog has hydrocephalus and seems to be quite severe. I am not sure if the shunt surgery is the best option as I have heard it only buys them a year or two if they are lucky, and i don't want him living in pain if that is the case. he is only 9 months old and he has shown neurological signs such as head pressing, falling over etc
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
I am very sorry to hear that Spike has a severe hydrocephalus. As you have noted, shunt surgery is really the only corrective treatment option (even in children). Now in regards ***** ***** surgical success is very much dependent on the individual and their particular level of severity. Therefore, this can skew the prognosis time frames that we have for these types of procedures. In fact, while the median survival time is a few years as you noted, there are a significant number of cases that do much better (ie up to 6 years in a recent study). That said some others will do worse.
Therefore, if his signs are too severe to continue as he is (and that level of pain you noted certainly raises that as being a concern for this situation), it is worth sitting down with his specialist for a discussion on his risks/benefits of the surgery. If the severity of brain changes match the signs, then he may not be a good candidate to put through this procedure and we'd have to consider using the steroids and pain medications as needed for as long as he is comfortable. But if based on their MRI scan, his brain changes are not severe and a shunt would be straight forward for him, then it is something to seriously consider undertaking to give him a chance to potentially have a good few years as a normal dog if possible.
Please take care,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
thanks for your quick reply. do you know roughly how much the surgery is? i want to give him the chance but i am worried about all the follow up costs. also, they did say it was quite severe when they looked at his MRI.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome,
I am afraid you would need to have the specialist give you an estimate of cost. This is because while I have seen some done for ~$2,000-5000, the duration of anesthesia, surgical time, and equipment needed would be based on the MRI findings (which limits me in giving an accurate estimate). As well, follow up costs can be very variable. If all goes well, they can be quite low. But if he had any issues with infection or post operative swelling, while all are treatable, their would be extra costs depending on what was seen. So, it can be quite an expensive undertaking (especially if Spike is not insured), but again the basis for surgery being practical here will be hinge all on those MRI scan findings.
Please take care,
Dr. B.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about Spike. How is everything going?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
thanks for following up. we saw the specialist again who suggested the surgery but did not have much information about after surgery, except to say that complications can occur, and infections. i don't want to put him through surgery when it is so expensive and is likely to have more costs post surgery that I would not be able to afford. I also don't think he is at the point where he needs to be put to sleep, however i am unsure about this. I don't want him living in pain but i don't know how much pain he is in and whether it is time to put him to sleep, or keep him going on the medicine for now. what do you think? i want to do what is best for him
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome,
I think that is what we all want for Spike.
If he manages on the medication and can live a fairly normal dog life that is comfortable, then it is fine to take each day as it comes for him. And as long as he is having more good days then bad, we'd want to enjoy what time he has with us. Of course, if he cannot enjoy that time or appears to be trapped in a body that won't allow him to, then we'd need to consider letting him go.
Please take care,
Dr. B.
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