Dog Nasal Cancer

Tess Thompson

Detecting symptoms and taking action quickly is critical to cancer treatment. Dog cancer is difficult to detect, and certain types of cancers are so aggressive that it may be too late by the time you consult a veterinarian. It is better to be safe than to repent later.

The signs of cancer in dogs differs depending on the location and type of cancer. For example, lesions, sores or wounds that do not heal on any part of the body indicate skin cancer, and chronic nasal discharge may indicate nasal cancer in dogs.

The risk of nasal cancer in dogs is apparently related to the length of the nasal passage and the efficacy of the filtering capability. Brachycephalic breeds (those with short, broad heads), are open mouth breathers due to the typical malformations and abnormally short nasal cavity. This leads to lesser exposure of the nasal turbinates to potential environmental carcinogens.

Potential risk factors of nasal cancer include exposure to indoor kerosene, coal combustion, tobacco smoke and the use of flea sprays. The most common signs of nasal cancer are bleeding from the nose, sneezing, breathing with a heavy snoring sound, chronic nasal discharge, lethargy, sneezing and facial deformity or swelling. As these symptoms tend to mimic other mild respiratory diseases, nasal cancer can avoid detection until it is too late to treat.

Besides local and respiratory symptoms, nasal cancer may also manifest as certain symptoms associated with eye or nervous system diseases. Ocular symptoms of nasal cancer include ocular discharge, abnormal protrusion of the eyes and blindness. The nervous system is usually affected in the advanced stages of nasal cancer, and the dog may have seizures and may show behavioral changes related to a deficiency in neurological or mental functioning.

Sino-nasal tumors are relatively less common, but when they occur, they are likely to metastasize to the surrounding lymph nodes, brain and lungs. Primary evaluation involves blood tests, radiographs and other imaging tests, and local lymph node aspiration cytology. Definite diagnosis is possible only after a biopsy of the tumor tissue.

Surgery is an effective mode of treating squamous cell carcinoma. In dogs with squamous cell carcinoma of the rostral nasal cavity (snout), it is important that radiation therapy follows surgical treatment to increase survival. Surgery alone is ineffective in the treatment of nasal cavity tumors and average survival time for dogs ranges from less than one month to a year.

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