Oligodendroglioma In Dogs

Oligodendrogliomas is a form of cancer that affects some breeds more than others with brachycephalic breeds being high on the list. It is a form of glioma which are brain tumours thought to first originate in a part of the brain known as oligodendrocytes. It is also thought the tumours may originate from a precursor cell called a glial. Oligodendrogliomas destroys surrounding tissue as the tumours take hold and grow with devastating effects.

Breeds Most at Risk

As previously mentioned, certain breeds are more predisposed to suffering from these brain tumours than others with the following breeds being high on the list of those that do:

The tumours typically develop in a dog's frontal and temporal lobes as well as the thalamus and surrounding areas of the brain. In some instances, the tumours can spread to a dog's ventricular system and if the cancer spreads quickly it can negatively impact their brainstems, eyes and spinal cords. Both primary and secondary tumours can develop at the same time and often dogs with the condition also suffer from an aggressive form of mammary adenocarcinoma.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Dogs that suffer from the condition typically display neurological symptoms of there being something wrong with them which occur rapidly once the tumours take hold. The symptoms they may display could include the following:

  • Ataxia
  • Abnormal body movements
  • Loss of senses
  • Seizures
  • Cognitive dysfunction

Diagnosing the Condition

A vet would need to know a dog's full medical history and may well recommend carrying out the following tests to determine whether a dog is suffering from Oligodendroglioma:

  • CT or MRI scan
  • Biopsies of tumours
  • Histopathological analysis

The tests would also help a vet rule out any other reasons for the tumours and this includes a dog having developed the following disorders:

  • Astrocytoma
  • Choroid plexus tumour
  • Primary central nervous system lymphoma
  • Primitive neuroectodermal tumour
  • Histiocytoma
  • Vascular hamartoma

Treatment Options

A vet might recommend chemotherapy or radiotherapy as a way of treating the tumours, but this would just treat a dog's condition and not cure them. As such the end goal of any chosen treatment is to extend a dog's life making sure their quality of life remains good. With this said, chemotherapy and radiotherapy alone would not be sufficient to manage a dog's condition and they would need to be prescribed specific medication that a vet would administer in conjunction with other treatments. Rarely would a vet recommend surgically removing a tumour except if the growth is in such a place that it would be safe to do.

Because dogs experience seizures when suffering from this type of brain tumour, vets typically prescribe anti-convulscent medication which is an effective way of managing and controlling seizures. Dogs would also need to be prescribed pain relief medication as well as specific drugs to reduce any intracranial pressure that often accompanies oligodendroglioma.


Oligodendroglioma is treatable but not curable disorder and it depends on where the tumours have developed in a dog's brain as to how well they can be treated. With this said, if left untreated, the prognosis is never good. When caught early enough and tumours are treated with chemotherapy, radiotherapy or been surgically removed, the prognosis is that much better especially in dogs that respond well to the treatments they are given when suffering from oligodendroglioma.

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