Hydrocephalus in Chihuahuas

Hydrocephalus is a disease in which cerebrospinal fluid builds up in a chihuahua’s brain. When the fluid builds up, it puts pressure on the brain. This can cause damage to the brain or even death. Hydrocephalus is often a congenital disease, which means that a dog is born with it.

The disease happens most often in small or tiny dog breeds including chihuahuas. A dog might be born with hydrocephalus if the brain bleeds during a complicated birth. Dogs may show signs of it when they are young, but they aren’t born with it. Dogs with hydrocephalus are born with another problem that makes the fluid build up in the brain and leads to hydrocephalus.

Later in life, a dog may get hydrocephalus, also known as “water on the brain.” This condition can be caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D, intracranial inflammatory disease, brain swelling, a brain tumor, or the parainfluenza virus.


Signs And Symptoms Of Hydrocephalus In Chihuahuas


There are many outward and inward signs that a puppy might have hydrocephalus, such as:

  • A dome-shaped skull
  • Wide-set eyes
  • Not being able to settle down and constantly circling
  • Unusual posture
  • Pressing the head (a term for dogs pressing their head against a wall)
  • Walks strangely or in fits and starts
  • Stumbling to one side
  • Slow growth
  • A lot more talking or excitement
  • Signs of nerve damage
  • Problems learning and going to the bathroom (happens to 75% of all hydro pups).

Keep in mind that not all Chihuahua dogs born with this condition show symptoms straight away. It may take a while for symptoms to show up. Most dogs show signs when they are between 8 and 12 weeks old. Hydro pups can also get sick in other ways, like going blind or having seizures. It is possible to figure out what’s wrong with a dog based on its symptoms and how it looks. In some cases, an ultrasound or MRI will be needed to find out more.



When figuring out if a young chihuahua has hydrocephalus, your vet will look at the clinical symptoms to help figure out how bad the hydrocephalus is. Most of the time, your vet will know what to look for if your Chi’s fontanel is big and open and if they walk without being coordinated. The brain ventricles will be bigger if an ultrasound of the fontanel is done. A CT scan or MRI will find out where the fluid is coming from. On the different scans that are being done, tumors or other abnormalities will be seen.

Treating and Caring for a Hydrocephalus Chihuahua Pup

Treatment of this disease depends on how bad the condition is and how fast it is getting worse. The goal of treatment is to get the brain to start making and taking in the right amount of fluid again.


Corticosteroid medicines can be used to treat dogs with mild hydro or in the early stages of the disease. Medication helps stop the body from making as much fluid and reduces inflammation. To treat seizures and other symptoms, you may be given more medicine.

Surgical Treatment


In certain situations, a doctor may suggest surgery. During surgery, the veterinary surgeon puts a shunt in the brain to drain extra fluid into the abdomen. The good news is that surgical procedure has a high success rate. However, the bad news is that it can be costly and needs vets with a lot of competencies. This is why it is not accessible everywhere. As with any surgery, there are risks with surgery on your dog. Talk to your vet to find out if surgery is the best choice for your dog.

The Dog Mobility Assistance

Happy cute little dog in wheelchair


Chihuahua puppies with hydrocephalus may need a dog wheelchair to help them keep their balance, walk, and stand up straight. A four-wheeled wheelchair can keep them from falling over and help them stand up straight so they can eat, drink, and exercise.


Even though this condition can be treated, dogs with it will be slow-minded and have trouble thinking. Their lives will be cut short, too. Most don’t make it past age 2.

4 Additional facts about Hydrocephalus

  1. It doesn’t happen often.
  2. Parents of a puppy with hydrocephalus shouldn’t have any more puppies.
  3. Early care is important.
  4. Most of the time, the best treatment is to treat the symptoms.

Last word

This article does nothing but gives information. We are not able to tell you what to do for your chihuahua or make a diagnosis. We encourage you to take your dog to the vet if he is sick or hurting in any way.

Here is a video of a chihuahua puppy who has Hydrocephalus


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