Nasal Tumors in Dogs

Nasal tumors occur in only one or two percent of canine tumor cases, and it's very rare for them to spread to other organs. However, dog nasal tumors are usually malignant, or cancerous. They can grow from the epthelial cells of your dog's nasal lining, or from the cells of your dog's lymph nodes.

Causes of Dog Nasal Tumors

Dogs of all ages and both genders can develop nasal tumors. Dolicocephalic dogs, or those with long, narrow muzzles, are more likely to develop nasal tumors than brachycephalic dogs, or those with short, broad muzzles (like pugs and Pekinese dogs). Vets believe that this is because dogs with broad muzzles breathe through their mouths more than dogs with long, narrow muzzles. Exposure to tobacco smoke, kerosene and other fuel fumes and smoke, including wood and coal smoke, can increase the risk of dog nasal cancer. Exposure to flea sprays may also be a causal factor.

Some breeds seem to be more prone than others to developing nasal tumors. They are:

  • Airedale terriers
  • Scottish terriers
  • Golden and Laborador retrievers
  • Collies
  • Basset hounds

Symptoms of Dog Nasal Cancer

Symptoms of dog nasal tumors can vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. Some of the less obvious symptoms of dog nasal cancer include:

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Reverse sneezing, a condition characterized by rapid inhalations through the nose, snorting and gagging
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Facial swelling

In the later stages, nasal cancer tumors may become large enough to change the shape of your dog's face. Your dog's eyes may water, or even bulge out. He may become blind. Some dogs may experience behavioral changes, inhibited cognitive ability and seizures as the cancer affects the brain.

Diagnosising Dog Nasal Tumors

Your vet can examine your dog's nasal discharge under a microscope to determine the cause. If the nasal discharge is the symptom of a fungal or other infection, rather than cancer, then examining the mucous microscopically might provide a diagnosis.

Blood and urine tests don't usually help much in the diagnosis of dog nasal tumors. However, your vet may want to perform such tests just to measure your dog's general state of health.

Some tests that your vet might use to diagnose dog nasal cancer include:

  • X-rays
  • Examining the nasal cavity with a rhinoscope
  • Looking at the back of your dog's throat with a mirror
  • CT scans of the nasal cavity and sinuses

If your vet finds nasal tumors, he'll do a biopsy to determine if the tumors are cancerous.

Dog Sinus Tumor Treatment

Treating sinus and nasal tumors in dogs is very difficult, due to the elaborate structure of the nasal and sinus cavities. Many cancerous nasal tumors are surgically inaccessible. If your dog's nasal tumor is operable, then he'll need post surgical radiation therapy. Chemotherapy isn't of much use in treating this type of cancer. Radiation therapy can take as long as four weeks and may cause hair loss and irritation at the site, but it can lengthen your dog's life by a year or longer.

If your dog's tumor isn't operable, your vet will still recommend radiation therapy. Without treatment, nasal cancer kills in two to five months.