Nasal tumours or cancer of the nose is a relatively rare cancer that can affect dogs, but one that can develop quite quickly and be very aggressive. Nasal tumours in dogs come in various different forms, but they are all serious and require the immediate attention of your vet if you spot anything amiss.
In this article, we will look at nasal tumours or cancer of the nose in dogs, covering the type of cancer that causes tumours of the nose, the symptoms of such cancers, and what can be done about them. Read on to learn more.
Your dog’s nose is constructed of two separate chambers, composed of bones and sinuses that are separated by cartilage and that extend forwards to form the nostrils on the end of your dog’s snout. Tumours can develop within the chambers of the nose itself, which can occlude their breathing and cause a wide range of other health problems too.
Nasal tumours tend to be fast in onset and aggressive, although they are one of the least common forms of cancer that dogs can develop, accounting for less than 3% of all canine cancer diagnosis. Around two out of three nasal tumours dogs develop are a type of carcinoma, and the remaining third sarcoma. In even more rare presentations, lymphoma may develop instead.
As mentioned, nasal cancers and tumours of the nose are not very common in dogs, which means that there is not a huge amount of information available about the types of dogs most prone to developing them.
However, they almost always develop in mature and elderly dogs, and are very uncommon in dogs under the age of around seven. Males and females are equally likely to be affected, and nasal tumours are more common in dogs with long muzzles than short ones, such as breeds like the German shepherd. Anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that canine nasal tumours are also more common in dogs that live in urban areas rather than rural ones, although even this isn’t known for sure.
As is the case for most canine health conditions, the symptoms that any dog with a nasal tumour displays can be quite variable, which can make it harder to reach a formal diagnosis. The type of nasal tumour present as well as how acute it is and how long it has been developing also affects the potential symptoms.
The symptoms of nasal tumours in dogs can change as the condition progresses, varying between the early and later stages.
Some of the symptoms of nasal tumours in dogs you might observe at home include:
In far progressed presentations of nasal tumours in dogs, the affected dog may suffer from seizures, loss of vision, and other critical problems.
Nasal tumours in dogs tend to develop quickly and become acute in short order, which means that by the time a formal diagnosis is made by your vet, the options remaining to treat the cancer may be somewhat limited. Early intervention and contacting your vet immediately as soon as you spot something amiss greatly increases the chances of your vet being able to treat your dog effectively.
Surgical intervention may be considered depending on the type of tumour present and how acute it is, but this is not always viable for all dogs and presentations. Even in dogs that are good candidates for surgery, this can be risky and so surgery is not usually considered to be the best treatment option for dogs with nasal tumours. Survival time after surgery for nasal cancers in dogs rarely exceed six months or so, and of course, the surgery itself is painful and invasive and so often ruled out early on.
Chemotherapy or radiotherapy might be things your vet considers too, although often such treatments will only serve to prolong the dog’s lifespan and improve their quality of life in the meantime and may not fully clear the cancer or place your dog into full remission.
Your vet will also work with you to support your dog during the remainder of their life, managing their pain and any other symptoms and doing everything possible to improve the dog’s quality of life. The sooner care or attempted treatment is begun, the better any given dog’s chances of survival and enjoying their remaining time with you, so if you are worried about your dog or concerned that something is wrong with their nose, don’t wait to get them checked out.