Hydrocephalus Puppy Life Expectancy? How To Treat It?

Hydrocephalus can impact how long puppies with this condition may live.

Pet owners need to know about their pup’s life expectancy to make the right choices about their care and well-being.

Let’s learn about the hydrocephalus puppy life expectancy and factors that can affect its lifespan.

From early detection to supportive measures, I’ll provide helpful insights and advice to assist those caring for these special pups.

What Is Hydrocephalus In Puppies?

hydrocephalus puppy life expectancy

Hydrocephalus in puppies is a condition where there is an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in their brain.

This fluid surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.

However, when it accumulates excessively, it increases pressure on the brain. This will lead to severe brain damage if not detected and treated early.

In puppies, this disease can be either congenital or acquired. Congenital hydrocephalus is present at birth and often occurs due to abnormal fetal development during pregnancy.

It results in soft, dome-shaped skulls that harden as they grow, blocking the outflow of CSF.

Small breed dogs and brachycephalic breeds like Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, and Pugs are more susceptible to congenital hydrocephalus.

On the other hand, hydrocephalus can happen later in a puppy’s life and is commonly caused by conditions such as:

  • Brain tumors
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Brain infections
  • Brain trauma
  • Inflammatory brain diseases

What Is Hydrocephalus Puppy Life Expectancy?

The life expectancy of puppies with hydrocephalus is quite short, but some can live for another 2 years.

It depends on various factors, including their age and the severity and duration of the condition.

Puppies with congenital hydrocephalus may have a better prognosis if they receive shunt surgery early.

On the other hand, older dogs may have a more guarded outlook due to the underlying condition’s seriousness.

What Is The Survival Rate Of Puppies With Hydrocephalus?

Can a dog with hydrocephalus survive? Yes. The survival rate is relatively higher for milder cases that can be managed with medication or minimal intervention.

However, the hydrocephalus in dogs survival rate may be lower for severe cases requiring more intensive treatments.

The shunt solution has a success rate of 50% to 90%. While it can work well for many dogs, its success depends on each case’s specifics. 

Does A Puppy With Hydrocephalus Experience Pain?

Yes, if hydrocephalus goes untreated and the excess fluid continues to build up in the skull, the puppy may experience pain or discomfort.

The increased pressure in the brain can lead to various neurological symptoms. They include headaches, seizures, and overall discomfort.

If a puppy shows signs of hydrocephalus, it’s important to take them to the vet quickly.

The vet will check their condition and give the right treatment to help them feel better and have a better life.

Is Hydrocephalus Genetic In Dogs?

Yes, hydrocephalus in dogs can have a genetic component.

Congenital hydrocephalus, which is present at birth, may result from genetic conditions or infections during brain development.

Dogs with a family history of hydrocephalus or certain genetic predispositions should not be bred.

Moreover, acquired hydrocephalus can also have genetic factors, such as brain tumors with a genetic link.

It’s important to be cautious when breeding dogs with a history of hydrocephalus or related genetic conditions.

What Are Dog Breeds Prone To Hydrocephalus?

Certain dog breeds are prone to hydrocephalus due to a potential genetic predisposition.

Smaller breeds and those with snub noses or brachycephalic features are more likely to develop this condition.

Some more susceptible breeds include Toy French Poodle, Boston Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, English Bulldog, Chihuahua, Pug, Shih Tzu, and others.

However, remember that not all dogs from these breeds will develop hydrocephalus. Dogs from less susceptible breeds can also be affected.

What Are Some Common Signs Of Hydrocephalus In Puppies?

mild hydrocephalus in dogs
  • Dome-shaped head/ skull: Puppies with hydrocephalus may have an abnormally shaped head. This may appear more rounded or dome-like.
  • Wide-set eyes: Their eyes may be spaced farther apart than usual.
  • Seizures: Puppies may experience seizures, which are sudden episodes of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. These neurological signs lead to muscle spasms and convulsions.
  • Stupor and coma: They may appear dazed or unresponsive, and in severe cases, they may even slip into a coma.
  • Vision loss: Obstructive hydrocephalus can affect their vision, leading to difficulty seeing or complete vision loss.
  • Lethargy: Hydrocephalic puppies may seem excessively tired or lacking in energy. They will refuse their favorite salmon, fish, turkey, or chicken.
  • Spastic walking: Lack of coordination when walking is another sign of hydrocephalus puppies. It’s due to the increased pressure on the brain affecting motor control.
  • Head pressing: They may press their head against walls or objects to relieve the discomfort.
  • Walking in circles: Puppies may continuously walk in circles, showing repetitive and abnormal behavior.
  • Not very responsive to stimuli: Puppies may show reduced responsiveness to their surroundings.
  • Hyperexcitability: Puppies may display excessive excitement or agitation.

What Are Some Treatments For Dogs With Hydrocephalus?


Imaging Tests

The vet will conduct imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. The tests include one of the following:

  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Ultrasound is suitable for puppies with an open fontanel, while CT and MRI are recommended for those without an open fontanel.

CSF Analysis

In cases of hydrocephalus, the vet may perform a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis to determine the underlying cause, such as an infection.


For CT and MRI, the puppy will need to be anesthetized to ensure they remain still during the procedure.


Ventriculoperitoneal shunt

The main point of the Ventriculoperitoneal shunt is to place a shunt in order to redirect CSF from the dog’s brain to its abdomen.

This treatment plan serves as a long-term solution and has a success rate between 50 and 90 percent.

Subsequent surgeries

Puppies with congenital hydrocephalus may require additional surgeries as they grow to replace the shunt with a larger one.



Another treatment of hydrocephalus includes medications like prednisone and dexamethasone.

They can reduce inflammation and brain swelling. Thus, it can help to alleviate symptoms.


Furosemide is a diuretic that increases cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) outflow and reduces CSF production, helping to manage the condition.

Proton-pump inhibitors

Omeprazole can decrease CSF production and aid in controlling common symptoms of hydrocephalus.


can a dog with hydrocephalus survive

How Quickly Does Hydrocephalus Get Worse In Dogs?

Hydrocephalus in dogs can get worse at different speeds. Unlike Pyometra, which gets worse in 4 to 8 weeks, the hydro puppy symptoms become noticeable between 8 to 12 weeks.

It’s best to closely monitor the dog’s symptoms and work with a vet to manage the condition properly.

Is There Any Prognosis For Dogs With Hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus in dogs is a serious condition. If a puppy is born with hydrocephalus, there is a better chance for improvement if treated early with a shunt.

But even with treatment, some puppies may still have problems.

The outlook is not as good for dogs that develop hydrocephalus later in life because of other issues like a brain tumor or infection.

Treating the underlying cause can be difficult, and the dog may have more severe problems.

How Much Does It Cost To Treat Hydrocephalus?

Treating hydrocephalus in dogs with surgery ranges from $5,000 to $10,000. This cost can vary depending on factors such as:

  • The location of the veterinary clinic
  • The severity of the condition
  • Any additional medical care or follow-up treatments are required.

It’s important to remember that treating severe hydrocephalus with surgery can be expensive, so pet owners should be financially prepared for this high cost.

However, the surgery can significantly improve the dog’s life expectancy and quality of life if successful.


In conclusion, the hydrocephalus puppy life expectancy depends on the condition of each puppy.

The outlook also depends on how bad it is, how soon it’s detected, and the treatment. Mild hydrocephalus in dogs can be treated, but some puppies may still have ongoing issues.

While hydrocephalus presents challenges, affected puppies can still have a normal life with proper attention.

Remember, your veterinarian is your best resource for advice and care for your furry companion.


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Hi I am Mitchell. Dog Growth is a blog about dog caring and training where I share my experiences to my community. Hope you enjoy it!

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