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Old 01-14-2014, 12:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hydrocephalus. Opinons?

My wife and I deceided to adopt a special needs puppy. We went to adopt his sister, but we couldn't leave the boy behind knowing no-one would adopt him. The lady we got the puppies from gave him to us for free, knowing he has problems.

We went to two separate vets. The first vet didn't seem to know what he was talking about, admitted that he didn't know what was wrong with Haans, and suggested euthanasia.

The second vet was much more professional. All 3 vets on staff came in to check on Haans and offer suggestions, as well as the Business Manager and retired owner (who was a vet for 30+ years). They all seemed to believe he has hydrocephalus. They recommended that either we take him to a neurologist and seek treatment or put him down.

I'm hoping someone else who had a puppy with hydrocephalus could chime in on whether it would be a good idea to seek treatment, as both my wife and I really don't want to have to put him down. I did some reading on this forum about similar stories, but none seemed to mention how the quality of life for the dog was after treatment.
The vet told us that there are a few treatment options, the only permanent on being a shunt. But without taking a CAT scan and/or MRI to see whats really going on inside of his head, there is no way to know if treatment is worth pursuing. The estimated diagnosis and consultation fee would be anywhere from $1000-$2000 alone, and surgery to put in a shunt could run as high as $5000+.

I feel Haans is not currently suffering. He likes to play, he eats and drinks well, and goes to the bathroom. He gets super excited when you call him and will eventually find you if you keep calling for him (tail wagging and all). Friday he weighed 3.3 pounds and today he weighs 4 pounds (3 day span) so he is definitely growing.

His symptoms are:
-Circling (counter-clockwise)
-Possible blindness (he seems to avoid objects quite often)
-Nystagmus in both eyes
-Excessive vocalization
-Domed head (common in patients with hydrocephalus)
-Minor balance issues (can walk in a straight line without a drunken walk)
-He weights 4 pounds and his sister weighs 7.5 pounds (obvious size difference)

Anyone have anything to say about this? My wife and I are torn over this.

Here are some comparison pictures between him and his sister. Both were born in the same litter.



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Old 01-14-2014, 12:32 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I am so sorry to read this. I had a puppy with hydrocephalus. She had to be put to sleep at just shy of 4 months old, after putting up a good fight. The more she grew, the more damage the hydrocephalus caused.

I went to a neurologist, but they needed to run tests to see if she could even be put under for an MRI.

Her prognosis even with a brain shunt was maybe two years. I didn't want her to suffer any more (it was clear she was suffering in the end).

She lived a happy two months with me, and only got bad toward the end. (She went blind, couldn't walk..). Needless to say, a puppy with hydrocephalus is going to be heartbreaking, expensive, and hard to potty train. I was at the vet with her every single week.

It was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever went through so I definitely am so sorry to hear this.

How old is the puppy? I will say, as they grow and mature, it will effect them more. As their skull hardens the pressure from the fluid pushes on the brain more and causes brain damage and nerve damage. My girl went downhill really fast. I miss my girl so much, but I know that even if I had put her through all that, her life would've been cut short and never would have been normal. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

(and from the pictures, yes it definitely looks like Hydrocephalus.).

Again, I am so sorry.


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Old 01-14-2014, 12:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Also, I did do a lot of research on this..

If you do decided to go with a shunt, it WILL have to be replaced every so often. They don't last forever. That is a *huge* surgery for a little puppy to have once, let alone numerous times.

They won't ever be able to wear a collar. Their long term prognosis isn't good. They may not survive the surgery.

There are other options, which may be worth trying...I think one is omeprazole (it's an antacid). It has been show to decrease the CSF production. Prednisone is another one (my girl was on it for some time and it improved her symptoms dramatically, but they came back when she went off of it). Regardless, those only mask the symptoms.

My best advice - go consult with a neurologist, but prepare for the worst with hydrocephalus.
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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not sure i would put a pup through all the procedures and still end up in pain at the end. see what the neuro doc says and take it from there.
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Personally I think it is irresponsible for the breeder to give this puppy away and rely on people's emotions to "solve" hers. I would have put this puppy to sleep.
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfy dog View Post
Personally I think it is irresponsible for the breeder to give this puppy away and rely on people's emotions to "solve" hers. I would have put this puppy to sleep.
The lady we got the puppy's from was not a breeder. Both the parents have papers as purebreds, but she only had about 4 litters and gave the puppy's away to her family mainly. This litter was an "accident" and she ended up selling the puppies for dirt cheap to the first people to take them. When we saw Haans, we knew no-one was going to take him and it was obvious the lady didn't know what she was doing, and her enviroment was not at all suited for puppies. The first night we brought them home, Haans passed a rubber band...

We decided to make an appointment with the neurologist and get the scans done. The vet did say that there is a possibility of there being a minor issue that may be fixed without a shunt. We may try medication as well to see if that alleviates the symptoms.

I just can't stand the thought of putting this puppy to sleep if there is even a remote chance that he can be saved and live a normal and happy live.

I'd still love to hear more opinions and stories if anyone has them to share.
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Old 01-14-2014, 01:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Of course these people are breeders. If you create a litter you are a breeder (IMO)
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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kyle, i think the term for her would be back yard breeder. imho, they often produce nice family pets. often though you loose out on on some health testing and they usually don't breed for specific attributes. in other words, you most likely won't win tittles with your gsd, but could end up with a great family dog.
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Old 01-14-2014, 02:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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A great family dog was all we wanted. Now all we want is for Haans to get better.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Personally, I would mercifully euthanize this little guy. His symptoms seem extensive, and without a good ending. It would be hard to do now, but even harder later, and with unknown amounts of money spent. I can see spending the money if the prognosis is very positive but in this case to what end. He won't be in any pain, or confusion anymore. This may sound callous, although I can understand how hard it would be.
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