How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask DrRalston Your Own Question
DrRalston
DrRalston, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 2205
Experience:  Over twelve years of internal medicine, surgery, and preventive care.
47051559
Type Your Dog Question Here...
DrRalston is online now

I have a 14 yr old Border Collie neutered bitch, she is vaccinated

Customer Question

I have a 14 yr old Border Collie neutered bitch, she is vaccinated and in general good health. Yesterday she started having fits, lasting about 1 min with a quick recovery. She had 3 yesterday and 2 so far today, she also wet herself during the last fit. She has also come up in hives all over her body. She has never had a fit before.
We took her to our vet who examined her and took blood. All her vitals are OK and the blood test showed that her liver/kidneys are within normal parameters. The vets suspects a brain tumour, which I understand makes sense, but the hives bother me since my vet could not explain them associated with the fits. I have googled it myself but has brought up nothing. Any help much appreciated.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  DrRalston replied 3 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr Ralston, thanks for your reply.

Anytime an older patient begins to suddendly have seizures, statistically the chancesof it being a brain tumor are QUITE high, unless other causes can be identified. Toxins and drug overdoses are common - including plant, poison, bad food. Biological, physiologic changes like liver failure, low blood sugar, and several other problems can cause the seizures as well.

It sounds like your Vet has started a good diagnostic protocol with the blood testing. It sounds like Meg has normal liver values and normal blood otherwise. This would lead one towards brain tumor as a cause of seizure.

However, the hives are troubling. Sudden hives with brain tumors are NOT common.

There are other tumors though that can cause hives and seizures. One specific type of tumor that can do this is a mast cell tumor. These often are found on the body of the dog. They are large lumps, usually near the surface of the skin (either directly on the surface, or just below the surface). Sometimes, they can be mistaken for a lipoma or a fatty tumor. This is why all lumps should be aspirated with a needle, and the contents examined under a microscope. Even if it looks like a fatty tumor, it could be worse.

These mast cell tumors (MCT) release histamines. Histamines are what you take anti-histamines for when you have allergies or allergic responses. They cause swelling of tissue, runny nose, but can lead to whelts, wheals, and hives as well.

Because of your pet's signs, I would consider that as a possible option.

Look for any lumps that might be on the body and investigate those. MCT's can also be inside the body, so an ultrasound is not a bad idea either to find out if that is where the tumor might be.

Another possibility is that your pet is actually suffering from severe toxicosis or allergic reaction to something. Hard to know exactly what that might be. You might never know unless you can narrow it down to something you changed very recently before the signs occured, known ingested plants, medications, herbals, anything new.

Because of the hives, I would definitely consider starting on steroids and antihistamines. It couldn't hurt, and might actually benefit the pet just in case. You'd be treating for allergies, but if it is a mast cell tumor causing the trouble, the antihistamines would help with that as well.

Unless you are going to surgery for a brain tumor, there isn't much else to do to help that. You can control seizures with anti-seizure medication like phenobarbitol and potassibum bromide. They might not be effective depending on the cause of the seizure however. Still, worth a try.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your detailed response, one point of clarification if you could please. Other than the small hives all over her body she has no other lumps, I presume the lumps you refer to are something other than the hives themselves ? Are these mast cell tumours cancerous and/or treatable ?

Expert:  DrRalston replied 3 years ago.

Typically the lumps would be noticeable if on the body. But they don't have to be.

Mast cell tumors can also be inside the body. They like to invade internal organs as well, including the liver. It is possible to have a mast cell tumor in the liver without changing the blood values of the liver very much at all. So, a normal blood work does not always mean a healthy pet. It helps, but it isn't everything.

Mast cell tumors are a form of cancer. When on the skin they can be surgically removed. When in organs, it gets more complicated. Sometimes, they can not be removed. In these cases there is still some hope. Newer drugs like Mastinib have been invented over the last 5-10 years that can greatly reduce the size and clinical signs of these types of tumors.

Mast cell tumors have a grading range. It used to be grade 1-2-3. The 1's weren't too bad, the threes are really aggressive, and the 2 range is what the pathologist used when they didn't want to call it it a three, but it was too aggressive to be a 1. Now they rank them on a hi-low system. High ranking is likely to spread and be aggressive. Low is likely to be more managable with removal and possible follow up modalities of treatment.

The only way to know is to find it, biopsy it, remove it.

One thing to consider is that you still don't have a diagnosis for the cause of the seizures. More tests are likely needed, ultrasound, etc. And in human cases, they would recommend an MRI/CT scan of the head. This is all possible, but costs and practicality keep some pet owners from using these diagnostic options. I understand completely in these cases.

But, what that means, is sometimes in Veterinary Medicine we have to guess. Your Vet has made a good one in suspecting brain tumor. 9.5 out 10 times in an older dog, that is what it is going to be. But, there is a weird factor on this one. The hives. They just don't go along with that picture. So, I think it could be something else. More tests would be needed to be sure.

I think an abdominal ultrasound might be a good idea to look for other causes of seizures/tumor. If not, then you have an even better chance of it being a brain tumor. At that point CT/MRI would be needed to know for sure. But, then, you might decide not to do that.

DrRalston and 3 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  DrRalston replied 3 years ago.
I added a little bit to my statement above. Not sure if the system will let you know... so I will repost it here.

"One thing to consider is that you still don't have a diagnosis for the cause of the seizures. More tests are likely needed, ultrasound, etc. And in human cases, they would recommend an MRI/CT scan of the head. This is all possible, but costs and practicality keep some pet owners from using these diagnostic options. I understand completely in these cases.

But, what that means, is sometimes in Veterinary Medicine we have to guess. Your Vet has made a good one in suspecting brain tumor. 9.5 out 10 times in an older dog, that is what it is going to be. But, there is a weird factor on this one. The hives. They just don't go along with that picture. So, I think it could be something else. More tests would be needed to be sure.

I think an abdominal ultrasound might be a good idea to look for other causes of seizures/tumor. If not, then you have an even better chance of it being a brain tumor. At that point CT/MRI would be needed to know for sure. But, then, you might decide not to do that."
Expert:  DrRalston replied 3 years ago.
Tim,

Thank you for your kind rating. I do appreciate it. This does sound like a comlicated case. Please let me know if you have any further questions as we learn more, ok?

Thanks,
DrRalston

Related Dog Questions