Why Is My Dog’s Occiput Getting Bigger? (9 Important Facts)

It can be quite alarming to notice that your dog’s occiput (the bump on its head’s back) is getting bigger. Once you note that your dog’s occiput is getting bigger, you will want to know the possible reasons for it. This article explores those possible reasons for a dog’s occiput getting bigger.

Why is my dog’s occiput getting bigger? If the dog is still a puppy, the occiput getting bigger may be part of its normal growth. But if it is an adult dog – beyond the normal growing age – then the occiput getting bigger may be due to muscle disease or due to a tumor.

Sometimes, the occiput may get so big to the point of the dogs skull changing shape.

The most important question to ask yourself is on how old the dog is. If it is a puppy that is still growing, then its occiput getting bigger may not be a cause for concern.

Why is my dog’s occiput getting bigger
Why Is My Dog’s Occiput Getting Bigger?

It likely is part of the dog’s normal growth trajectory.

But if it is a mature dog that is clearly beyond the normal puppy growth age, yet its occiput is getting bigger, then that should be cause for great concern.

You need to start asking yourself, why is my dogs occiput getting bigger at this age?

And the possible reasons for the dog’s occiput getting bigger at such ages are things like muscle diseases and tumors.

 

What Is An Occiput On A Dog?

The occiput is part of the dog’s skull. It is the rear part of the dog’s skull, which connects the skull to the neck.

Thus it is through the occiput that the spinal cord gets an entry into the dog’s skull. It usually looks like a bump, at the rear side of the dog’s head.

If you research on what is the occiput on a dog, you will see that most sources describe it as the rear part of the dog’s skull.

The point of connection between the dog’s skull and neck is the occiput.

Thus part of the reason why dogs have a bump on their heads (the occiput) is to provide connection between the skull and the neck. This then serves as the spinal cord’s entry to the skull.

And if you were wondering, what’s that bump on top of a dog’s head, now you know it is most likely the occiput.

In some dogs – especially pointy head puppies – the occiput is very conspicuous. In fact, so conspicuous is it that it at times gets dog owners wondering, why is my dog’s head so pointy?

Others, on noting the conspicuous occiput, find themselves asking, why is my dog’s skull protruding? Or why does my dog have a bony head?

But the most common question which arises due to the occiput is on why is my dog’s head pointy…

Still, there are some dogs on which the occiput is not conspicuous. Thus whereas all dogs have occiputs, in some, the occiputs are pretty much invisible. In others, it is very conspicuous.

 

Which Dog Breeds Have A Prominent Occiput?

Among the dog breeds with large occiput (or rather, more conspicuous occiput) are Labrador and Golden Retrievers as well as Bloodhounds.

It is also not uncommon to find a prominent occiput on a Basset Hound or Cocker Spaniel.

In some breeds, you may find certain dogs having prominent occiputs while others have inconspicuous ones.

For instance, the occiput Pitbull dogs have varies in size: some being inconspicuous even as others are quite conspicuous. The same also applies for the occiput German Shepherd dogs have.

On the other hand, the Dachshund occiput will in most cases tend to be inconspicuous.

So in some breeds, you tend to find conspicuous occiputs in all dogs belonging to that breed.

In some other breeds, you find some members with conspicuous occiputs, even as others have inconspicuous occiputs.

And in some breeds, you find almost all members with inconspicuous occiputs.

It seems to be largely the structure of the respective dogs’ heads that determines whether the occiputs will be conspicuous or not.

But there also seems to be some dogs whose occiputs are manifestly larger than others’.

Our focus though is on cases in which the occiput starts getting bigger.

 

Why Is My Dogs Occiput Getting Bigger?

So far, we have established that the occiput is the bump at the dog head’s rear side. It is really the rear part of the dog’s skull, via which the skull connects to the dog’s neck.

Now there are cases in which you may notice this bump getting bigger.

And this naturally gets you wondering, why is the bump on my dogs head getting bigger? Why is my dogs lump getting bigger?

If the occiput getting bigger is causing your dog’s head to change shape, there may be other questions. You may find yourself wondering, why is my dog’s skull changing shape?

Or, more precisely, you may start wondering, why is my dogs head getting bony?

So, indeed, what could be the reason for the occiput bump on dogs skull getting bigger?

One possible reason for the dog’s occiput getting bigger is normal growth. If the dog is still at an age at which it is growing, the occiput will usually grow in tandem with the rest of the body.

So that could be a reason for the dog’s occiput getting bigger.

Muscle disease is another possible reason for a dog’s occiput getting bigger.

And the presence of tumors is yet another possible reason for a dog’s occiput getting bigger. Thus, for instance, an old dog bony head development may be due to the presence of tumors.

We will now go ahead to look at each of these possible reasons for dog’s occiput getting bigger in turn.

 

Normal Growth As A Reason For Dogs Occiput Getting Bigger

If the dog whose occiput is getting bigger is at an age at which it is still growing, then the occiput getting bigger may be part of normal growth.

It is important to remember that in certain dog breeds, growth continues right up to the 24th month of life.

Thus you may find a 20 month or even 24 month old dog that is still growing. And the occiput turns out to be one of the parts of the dog’s body that experience growth.

It is important to also understand that a dog’s growth is not always on a linear or gradual trajectory. Rather, it tends to be in sudden spurts.

Thus due to one of these growth spurts, a dog that had a small occiput just last week may have a much larger one today.

Of all the possible reasons for a dog’s occiput getting bigger, this one (of natural growth) is the most benign.

But there are cases in which you know that the dog’s occiput getting bigger can’t possibly be due to normal growth.

Take for instance, a case in which the dog in question is truly old.  In that case, the increase in the dog’s occiput size can’t possibly be explained on the basis of normal growth.

So you have to start thinking of other possible reasons for the dog’s occiput getting bigger…

Then again, even if the dog is still within the normal age for growth, its occiput can get bigger due to more malign reasons.

Thus the dog being still within the normal age for growth doesn’t rule out other possibilities.

The dog may still be within the normal age for growth. But the increase in its occiput’s size may be due to other issues, besides normal growth.

Why is my dog’s occiput getting bigger
Why Is My Dog’s Occiput Getting Bigger?

 

Muscle Disease As A Reason For Dogs Occiput Getting Bigger

There are cases in which we find the dog’s occiput getting bigger due to muscle disease.

Myositis in dogs (which is muscle inflammation) often manifests through an occiput getting bigger.

Some forms of muscle atrophy may also cause the dog’s occiput to get bigger.

Therefore if your dog’s occiput is getting bigger, these are possibilities to consider.

And if you were wondering, Why is my dog’s occiput getting bigger, this is a possible explanation.

As we said, if the dog whose occiput is getting bigger is beyond the normal age for growth, there has to be other reasons for the occiput getting bigger.

And quite often, that reason for the occiput getting bigger turns out to be some form of muscle disease.

In more specific terms, the muscle disease in question may be myositis: which is muscle inflammation.

The troublesome disease may also turn out to be muscle atrophy.

While we said that the occiput is a bony structure, it is covered by muscles. And problems in these muscles that cover it may be the reason for it appearing to be getting bigger.

For instance, if the muscles around it atrophy, it naturally becomes more conspicuous.

In another instance, if there is inflammation in the muscles around it, there can then be swelling appearance. This then makes the occiput look bigger.

For a person looking from the outside with a naked eye, it is impossible to tell what is happening underneath. What the observer notes is simply the occiput getting bigger.

 

Tumor As A Reason For Dogs Occiput Getting Bigger

It is possible for a dog’s occiput to appear bigger due to a tumor in the head.

One tumor that typically has this effect is the multilobular bone tumor.

If your dog has that sort of tumor, it may cause its occiput to appear to be getting bigger.

Thus when trying to understand the reason for a dog’s occiput getting bigger, people often use an elimination method.

Firstly, one eliminates the possibility of the reason for the occiput getting bigger being normal growth.

Suppose, for instance, the dog is mature, and well beyond the age for normal growth. Clearly then, the increase in occiput size can’t be due to normal growth.

After ruling out normal growth, we may start looking at the possibility of the increase in occiput size being due to muscle disease.

There are various tests, including CT scans and MRIs, which can rule out this possibility.

If it isn’t due to muscle disease (like myositis or atrophy), then you consider the possibility of it being due to a tumor.

Of course, there are cases in which the other possibilities wouldn’t even be worth considering. There are cases in which the dog has other more obvious signs of a tumor.

So in those cases, the focus of the vet is simply in confirming the multilobular (or other) tumor as the cause for the dog’s occiput getting bigger.

 

My Dogs Occiput Is Getting Bigger – What To Do?

After the question on why is my dog’s occiput getting bigger naturally comes this one: on what to do about the dog’s occiput getting bigger.

Now if the dog’s occiput is apparently getting bigger as part of normal growth, you don’t really need to do anything.

So you may just wait for the dog to grow past this phase. This is supposing that the dog (puppy really) is still at an age at which it is expected to be still undergoing growth.

But watch out for other signs which could be indicative of other causes of the dog’s occiput getting bigger.

If you find indications that it could be due to other causes, take the dog to the vet urgently.

In case the dog’s occiput getting bigger is clearly not due to normal growth, then you need to consult a vet urgently.

So this is the case, the dog is clearly beyond the age for normal growth, yet its occiput is getting bigger. Just consult a vet urgently.

The occiput may be growing due to muscle disease or tumors: both of which require urgent veterinary care.

 

Final Verdict – Why Is My Dogs Occiput Getting Bigger?

Your dog’s occiput may be getting bigger as part of the dog’s normal growth. If the dog is still a puppy undergoing normal growth, this is a possible reason for its occiput getting bigger.

In case your dog is mature (well beyond normal puppy growth), yet its occiput is getting bigger, that is worrisome.

The occiput may be getting bigger due to muscle disease (such as myositis) or due to a tumor.

Why is my dog’s occiput getting bigger
Why Is My Dog’s Occiput Getting Bigger?

Whatever you think is the reason for your dog’s occiput getting bigger, it is worth consulting a vet.

Even if you think it is due to normal growth, at least mention it to the vet during the next visit.

What if the dog is clearly beyond normal growth age, yet its occiput is getting bigger? In that case, what you need to do is take the dog to a vet without delay.

The possible causes for occiput growth here – the likes of muscle disease and tumors – require urgent veterinary attention.

As a pet lover, make sure to learn about pet more and give your pet dog a good and comfortable life!

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