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  • Writer's pictureVetMed Team

Nasal Tumors in Dogs: The Journey From Diagnosis to Treatment

Just like humans, dogs can be affected by various health conditions, including tumors. Among the different types of tumors that can afflict canines, nasal tumors are a particularly concerning and challenging diagnosis. In this article, we will explore what nasal tumors are, their symptoms, causes, prevention, diagnostic methods, available treatment options, and what to do next if your dog has been diagnosed with a nasal tumor.

dog with nasal tumor

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What Are Nasal Tumors?

Nasal tumors, also known as nasal cancer, are abnormal growths that develop within the nasal cavity of dogs. These tumors can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The most commonly observed types of nasal tumors in dogs include nasal carcinoma and various types of sarcomas (cancer of bone, cartilage or connective tissue.

Other Kinds of Tumors

While nasal tumors are a significant concern, it's important to note that dogs can develop tumors in other parts of their bodies as well. Mammary tumors, skin tumors, bone tumors, and various types of organ tumors are some examples of tumors that can affect dogs.

What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Tumors in Dogs?

Nasal tumors in dogs can present with a range of symptoms that may vary depending on the tumor's size, location, and type. Here are some common symptoms associated with nasal tumors in dogs:

1. Persistent Nasal Discharge

Dogs with nasal tumors often exhibit chronic nasal discharge that may be bloody, mucus-like, or purulent in nature. This discharge may be more pronounced from one nostril or may affect both nostrils.

2. Sneezing

Frequent and persistent bouts of sneezing, particularly if accompanied by nasal discharge, can indicate the presence of a nasal tumor. The sneezing may be more frequent in certain positions, such as when the dog lowers its head.

3. Difficulty Breathing

Nasal tumors can obstruct the nasal passages, leading to breathing difficulties. Dogs may exhibit increased effort while breathing, have noisy or labored breathing, have difficulty sleeping or display signs of respiratory distress.

4. Nasal Congestion

Dogs with nasal tumors may experience nasal congestion or a stuffy nose, leading to snorting sounds, snuffling, or difficulty smelling.

5. Facial Swelling

Tumors in the nasal cavity can cause swelling or deformities of the face, particularly around the affected nostril or on the side where the tumor is located. The swelling may be subtle initially but can progress over time.

6. Nosebleeds

Spontaneous nosebleeds, known as epistaxis, are a common symptom of nasal tumors. The nosebleeds may vary in severity, ranging from occasional small streaks of blood to more frequent and profuse bleeding.

7. Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss

Dogs with nasal tumors may experience a loss of appetite, leading to decreased food intake and subsequent weight loss. This can occur due to pain, discomfort, or a decreased sense of smell.

8. Changes in Behavior

Dogs suffering from nasal tumors may exhibit changes in behavior. They may become lethargic, withdrawn, irritable, or display signs of depression. This change in behavior can be a result of pain, difficulty breathing, or overall discomfort.

9. Facial Pain or Pawing at the Face

Nasal tumors can cause localized pain or discomfort in the facial area. Dogs may paw at their face, rub their nose against objects, or exhibit signs of facial discomfort, such as whining or reluctance to have their face touched.

10. Eye Abnormalities

In some cases, nasal tumors can affect the adjacent structures, leading to eye-related symptoms. These may include watery or teary eyes, squinting, redness, swelling, or protrusion of the eye.

It's important to note that these symptoms can be indicative of other nasal or respiratory conditions as well. However, if you notice any combination of these symptoms persisting for an extended period, it is crucial to consult your local veterinarian for a thorough examination and proper diagnosis.

Remember, early detection and intervention can significantly impact the treatment outcome and quality of life for dogs affected by nasal tumors.

How Did My Dog Get a Nasal Tumor?

While the exact causes of nasal tumors in dogs remain uncertain, several risk factors have been identified. Advanced age, typically over 10 years, increases the susceptibility to nasal tumors. Certain breeds, including Boxers, Dachshunds, and Shetland Sheepdogs, are also at a higher risk. Environmental factors such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, and exposure to certain chemicals may contribute to the development of nasal tumors.

Can You Prevent Nasal Tumors?

Preventing nasal tumors entirely is challenging due to the unclear etiology. However, there are steps you can take to potentially reduce the risk or detect them at an early stage. Minimizing exposure to environmental pollutants, providing a healthy diet and lifestyle, and scheduling regular veterinary check-ups can help maintain your dog's overall health and potentially identify any abnormalities sooner.

How Quickly Can Nasal Tumors Form and Progress?

The speed at which nasal tumors form and progress can vary significantly. While some tumors may develop slowly over an extended period, others can grow rapidly, causing severe symptoms within a short timeframe. Early detection is crucial for improving treatment outcomes and the overall prognosis for affected dogs.

How Nasal Tumors Are Diagnosed in Dogs

Diagnosing nasal tumors in dogs involves a comprehensive physical examination and a review of the dog's medical history. Diagnostic imaging techniques such computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide detailed images of the nasal cavity. Additionally, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the tumor's type and malignancy.

What Treatment Options Are There For Nasal Tumors in Dogs?

When it comes to treating nasal tumors in dogs, the approach depends on various factors, including the type of tumor, its location, size, and the overall health of the dog. A comprehensive treatment plan often involves a combination of modalities to maximize the chances of success. Here are several treatment options commonly considered for nasal tumors in dogs:

Treatment 1: Nasal Tumor Resection

Tumor tissue filling nasal cavities is removed using endoscopic visualization and instruments placed alongside the scope through the nostrils. Minimally invasive removal of nasal tumor tissue temporarily helps your pet breathe better through their nose, stops bleeding and helps control infection while your pet receives radiation therapy.

Treatment 2: Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the best treatment for all types of nasal cancer. ​We use high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy also referred to as internal radiation therapy. The source of radiation (that which emits the radiation) is placed into the nasal cavity through several small diameter hollow catheters placed through the nostrils into the nasal cavity. Brachytherapy reduces the risk of harming healthy tissue, can be shaped exactly to the desired treatment area and allows for higher doses given in one treatment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your dog to receive this effective and minimally invasive treatment!

See a video of HDR Brachytherapy being administered to one of our cute clients!

Treatment 3: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy utilizes drugs to kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells. It is often recommended for nasal tumors that have spread beyond the nasal cavity or when surgery or radiation alone cannot achieve optimal results. Chemotherapy drugs can be administered orally, intravenously, or directly into the nasal cavity. While chemotherapy may have side effects, including temporary suppression of the immune system, veterinary oncologists can manage these effects to ensure the well-being of the dog.

Treatment 4: Palliative Care

In some cases where the tumor is inoperable or has spread extensively, the primary focus shifts to palliative care. Palliative care aims to improve the dog's quality of life by managing symptoms, reducing pain, and providing comfort. This approach may involve pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, and supportive therapies to address breathing difficulties or nasal congestion.

Treatment 5: Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is an emerging field in cancer treatment that aims to boost the dog's immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. This treatment option involves the administration of specific substances or vaccines that stimulate the immune system's response against cancer cells. While still under investigation and not widely available, immunotherapy shows promising potential for enhancing the effectiveness of other treatment modalities.

It's important to note that treatment decisions should be made in consultation with your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist who can assess the dog's condition, tumor characteristics, and overall health to determine the most appropriate course of action. Each case is unique, and the chosen treatment approach may be tailored to suit the individual needs and circumstances of the dog.

VetMed Treats Nasal Tumors in Dogs

Nasal tumors in dogs require a comprehensive and tailored treatment approach. Nasal tumor resection, radiation therapy (HDR brachytherapy), chemotherapy, palliative care, and emerging therapies like immunotherapy all play a role in the management of nasal tumors. The primary goals of treatment are to control tumor growth, alleviate symptoms, improve the dog's quality of life, and extend survival. Early detection, accurate diagnosis, and prompt intervention are crucial in optimizing treatment outcomes for dogs affected by nasal tumors.


Questions You've Asked Us About Nasal Tumors in Dogs

Still have questions? Contact us here - we promise we'll answer them.

How long can a dog live with a nasal tumor?

The prognosis for dogs with nasal tumors varies depending on factors such as tumor type, stage, treatment options, and overall health of the dog. Survival times can range from a few months to over a year or longer with appropriate treatment and management.

Are nasal tumors in dogs always cancerous?

How can I help my dog with a nasal tumor?

Are nasal tumors in dogs painful?

How much does it cost to remove a tumor from a dog’s nose?


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