With young puppies that clearly have swelling, this is often all that is needed to recognize hydrocephalus. If, however, it is just suspected, or to learn of the extent of this, some or all of these tests will be performed:
- A neurological evaluation
- Blood work to check for kidney and liver function
- X-rays of the cranium
- Spinal tap
The objective in treatment is to reduce the chances of brain damage or prevent brain damage all together by improving the flow of the CSF fluid. Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the dog’s condition:
Medications are given. This includes anti-inflammatory medication (cortisone or prednisone), medications to help the body reabsorb excess fluid ( furosemide, acetazolamide, or omeprazole), and/or anti-seizure medications.
Owners will be instructed to prevent their Maltese from jumping as this can cause a rapid pressure change in the brain. Dog steps or ramps should be put against any furniture that a Maltese may go up and down on.
Veterinarian follow-up checkups are very important to make sure that a dog is healing well.
In serious cases, surgery may be required. This involves running a tube from the brain to the abdomin (called a ventriculoperitoneal shunt). This type of procedure is currently only performed at certain universities and veterinary specialty hospitals. Though there are considerable risks, success rate is near 80%.