Diagnosing Nasal Tumors in Dogs

Nasal tumors in dogs account for no more than two percent of dog tumors. Dog nasal tumors are usually cancerous, but they don't often spread to other parts of the dog's body. Here's what you should know about dog nasal tumors.

Risk Factors for Dog Nasal Tumors

Dogs of any age or gender are vulnerable to nasal tumors. Dogs with long, narrow snouts are more vulnerable to nasal tumors than dogs with short, thick snouts. Basset hounds, Scottish and Airedale terriers and and golden and Labrador retrievers are among the breeds more vulnerable to nasal tumors. Exposure to smoke from cigarettes, burning kerosene or coal can contribute to nasal tumors, as can excessive use of flea spray.

Symptoms of Nasal Tumors in Dogs

Nasal tumors in dogs are often large enough to be seen. However, even small nasal tumors can cause weight loss, lethargy, facial swelling, reverse sneezing, difficulty breathing and nasal discharge. Some dogs may have seizures and experience decreases in cognitive function. Protrusion of the eyeball, discharge from the eye and vision loss can occur.

If your dog has a nasal tumor, he may sound like he is snoring when he breathes. Blood and pus may appear in your dog's nasal discharge. Ulcers may appear on the snout and face.

Diagnosing Nasal Tumors in Dogs

Your vet will need a complete medical history and a thorough physical exam to diagnose nasal tumors. If your dog's nasal tumor isn't big enough to be seen, blood tests can help your vet verify the presence of cancer. X-rays can help identify a tumor, and can help your vet evaluate the extent of the damage done by nasal tumors.

Your vet will need to take a biopsy sample of your dog's nasal tumor to determine if it's cancerous. More than one sample could be necessary in some cases.

Treating Nasal Tumors in Dogs

Most nasal tumors are cancerous, but benign (non-cancerous) nasal tumors are easily treated with surgical removal. Cancerous nasal tumors must also be surgically removed in order for treatment to be successful. Chemotherapy usually isn't successful in the treatment of dog nasal tumors, but radiation therapy can help prolong your dog's life. If your dog's nasal tumor is cancerous, your vet will no doubt recommend a combination of radiation therapy and surgical removal as treatment; radiation therapy begins once your dog has recovered from surgery and continues three times a week for four weeks.

Most dogs tolerate radiation therapy well and don't experience severe side effects. Your dog may experience some minor fur loss on his snout, and he may develop inflammation and experience oozing from the injection site. However, once radiation therapy has ended your dog's fur should grow back and his inflammation should heal.

Dog Nasal Tumor Prognosis

The prognosis for untreated nasal tumors in dogs is very poor. Left untreated, nasal tumors are typically deadly in two to five months. However, with radiation therapy and surgical removal of the tumor, your dog could live for a year or longer after being diagnosed with cancerous nasal tumors.