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What are Nose Tumors?

Nose tumors in dogs are not very common; they account for 1% of all tumors in dogs.  Nose tumors are more common in older dogs over 10 years of age.  Medium and large dog breeds with long noses seem to be more predisposed to develop nose tumors. The exact reason why long nose dogs develop tumors, more often than short nose dogs is uncertain.  Some researchers believe that the reason maybe, that there is more area within the nasal cavity being exposed to inhaled carcinogens. If your dog is showing symptoms of nose tumors he should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

A tumor is a mass of tissue, which occurs when cells multiply and grow abnormally. The new abnormal growth of tissue grows faster than the normal tissue and forms a mass. Tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Unfortunately, 2/3 of nose tumors in dogs are malignant.

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Symptoms of Nose Tumors in Dogs

Symptoms may include:

  • Bloody nasal discharge
  • Facial deformity
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Harsh, difficult breathing
  • Nose bleeds
  • Mucus from the nose
  • Sneezing with drops of blood
  • Bad breath
  • Loss of smell
  • Depression
  • Dog paws at his face
  • Discharge coming from the eyes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Eye protrusion
  • If tumor is close to the brain, seizures may occur

Types

  • Carcinomas - The most common nasal tumor in dogs; this type of cancer occurs in the epithelial tissue
  • Sarcoma - Malignant tumor of non-epithelial tissue
  • Adenocarcinoma - Malignant tumor formed from glandular structures
  • Squamous cell carcinoma - Cancer that develops in the cells of the outer layer of skin
  • Benign tumors - Non-cancerous tumors

Causes of Nose Tumors in Dogs

Tumors are caused by the growth of abnormal cells.  Why the cells may grow faster than normal tissue may be triggered by:

  • Pollution from industrial factories
  • Living in a busy urban area - increased air pollution
  • Second-hand smoke
  • Genetics
  • Repeated breathing of carcinogens. 
  • Preservatives, chemicals and dyes in the diet.
  • Exposure to insecticides

Diagnosis of Nose Tumors in Dogs

The veterinarian will want to go over your companion’s medical history. During the consultation, he will want to know what symptoms you have observed and when they began.  The veterinarian will then perform a physical examination which may include taking the patient’s vitals (temperature, pulse, blood pressure and breathing rate).  The vet will want to look at the color of your dog’s gums and check inside his mouth. The veterinarian may gently palpate your dog’s facial area, muzzle, and nose.  If your dog has a nasal discharge the doctor may take a mucus sample to be examined under a microscope. The mucus sample may show abnormal cells. The veterinarian may suggest a complete blood test and a chemistry panel test. The complete blood count will determine the platelet, white and red blood cell count.  The chemistry panel test uses serum to check organ function in the body. 

It will be beneficial to have x-rays taken of the dog’s skull.  Additionally, if needed, the doctor may schedule a computed tomography (CT scan) appointment for the patient.  A CT scan will provide more detailed images of the soft tissue and can also help determine if the tumor has extended into the brain.   Your dog will need general anesthesia for the procedure. While under sedation, a biopsy may also be taken using the CT scan image to guide the biopsy needle. The needle is inserted into the tumor to retrieve tissue cells. The sample is then sent to a pathologist who will examine the biopsy for cancer cells.

Treatment of Nose Tumors in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with cancer he may be referred to a veterinary oncologist. The oncologist will review the medical findings, examine the patient and then determine what the best medical options are..  Usually the mass is surgically removed, and then the patient may be started on radiation and chemotherapy medications. Typically, radiation therapy is performed daily over a 3 to 4 week period of time. There can be side effects to radiation and chemotherapy such as hair loss, inflamed skin, dry eyes, shedding of skin, nausea and lack of appetite. Your canine may be prescribed a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as piroxicam.   Antibiotics, pain medication and anti-nausea medication may also be prescribed.

Recovery of Nose Tumors in Dogs

The recovery prognosis of nose tumors is guarded. Canines who undergo treatment may have extended life for a few more years.  Dogs that receive no treatment may only have months to live.

Owners of dogs who undergo surgery will be provided with post-operative instructions. Dogs receiving radiation and/or chemotherapy will need a lot of love, care and patience. If your dog is not eating, a temporary feeding tube may be inserted   Follow up visits will be necessary to monitor his progress.

Nose Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Max
Yorkshire Terrier
15 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Lump on nose

We thought our dog, Max had an abscess on his nose coming from his teeth as it was quite a large lump that came up really quickly, we took him to the vet for treatment. The vet tried to drain the abscess but nothing came out. He gave Max pain killers and antibiotics and we have to take him back after 5 days to see if it has gone down. We are worried sick in case this growth is something more sinister.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1098 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, without seeing Max, or examining him, i cannot comment on what the lump might be. If your veterinarian felt that medications might help, you need to trust their opinion, as they have seen the lump. it would be a good idea to call them and ask what the time frame is that you should expect the mass to respond, and get smaller, and what the next step might be if if isn't improving. I hope that he is okay.

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Nino
Pit bull mixed with chow
9 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

A lot of blood loss
Difficult breathing ,

Hello,I have a 9 yr pit mixed w/chow.. we notice he was bleeding but didnt see where it was coming from until the following day. Once we located it, i notice it looked like a bleed clot or something in his nose

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2513 Recommendations
Without examining Nino, I cannot say what the specific cause of a bleed is; however tumours, trauma, foreign objects, poisoning, dental issues among other causes may lead to nosebleeds. You should have your Veterinarian check the area to make a diagnosis so that treatment may be directed effectively. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Callie
Chihuahua
10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

Medication Used

Doxycycline

For over a year, Callie has had breathing issues. She constantly hacks every day, cannot breathe until she can sneeze out a massive snot wad (and she sneezes them ALL over the house), and has horrible breath. No bloody discharge, no deformities, but she has started devloping tumors under her armpits. Shes a 10 year old chihuahua. We have seen 3 vets who have all prescribed countless antihistamines, baceterial antibiotics, the works. Nothing has helped. One vet suggested looking to see if its a nasal tumor but its expensive and doesnt cover treatment if its the case. Does it sound like a tumor?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1098 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Allergies, polyps, foreign bodies and tumors are all possible. The best thing to do would be to have endoscopy performed and see what is causing the problem. It may be a foreign body that once removed is resolved. It may be a tumor. Without seeing what is in her nose, one can only guess. I hope that she does well.

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Zeus
Australian Shepherd
15 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling and discoloration of nose.

My dog Zeus has developed a pink pigmented area along the side of his nose on the right side. Could this be a tumor? He is getting old and is blind with a chronic cough from a collapsing trachea. He also has a large lipoma the size of a baseball above his left shoulder.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1098 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. A change in pigment coould indicate cancer, or a benign aging change. It would be best to have the lesion examined by your veterinarian to see if it is anything to worry about, or if it needs any treatment. I hope that Zeus is okay.

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Molly
Cavalier King Charles
15 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

My Cavalier King Charles spaniel has a growth on her nose at the top (near the snout). It started off looking like a dry patch but now it's extending backwards towards the eyes & has turned a pale colour

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2513 Recommendations
There are a few different types of growths, skin lesions or cancer which may affect dogs; this would be something to speak with your Veterinarian about since there wouldn’t be any suitable at home treatment for a growth apart from keep an eye on it. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Bernie
Bernese Mountain Dog
6
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

bloody nose
Sneezing

I have a 6 year old male Bernese mountain dog that began hemorrhaging from both nostrils. We had to take him to Med Vet to have them stop the bleeding. He has had nearly no signs or symptoms leading up to this episode besides sneezing. I am worried about it being a nasal tumor. Are skull x-rays sufficient to determine if there is in fact a tumor? Is the only way to figure out if its cancerous is by doing a biopsy?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2513 Recommendations
Ideally rhinoscopy should be performed to visualise the source of the bleed and to take a biopsy sample for histopathology; x-rays are useful and indicative but due to the anatomy of the skull may mask some pathologies but should be done to look into tooth root abscess (may penetrate the nasal cavity) etc… Rhinoscopy should be done with caution as it may induce another bleed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Buddy
Dachshund
10 - 12
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

He is Blind w/ocular discharge, Sneezing, noisy breathing. Vague diagnosis I Can't afford X-rays or treatment. Meds for 1 week w/no improvement. Good appetite. No deformation yet. Several fatty tumors. Should we euthanize?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2513 Recommendations
It is possible that Buddy has an upper respiratory tract infection which is also affecting his eyes too; a decision to euthanise is down to you and you alone. It may be possible that this may clear up with some topical drops for his eyes and some systemic antibiotics but without examining Buddy I cannot rule out other causes. I would fight for the little guy a bit more before euthanising but again, financial constraints and other factors may determine otherwise; it may be worth seeing if there are charity clinics in your area which may be able to help. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Chandler
Jack Russell Terrier
12 years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Chandler is a 12 year old jack Russell my vet told me he had amass growing in is nasal cavities we don't know if it's Benin if it's not is surgery the only way to get rid of oit

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2513 Recommendations
Surgery is the treatment of choice for nasal masses as other forms of treatment will only manage symptoms as not treat the actual cause; whether it is benign or malignant it is still recommended to remove masses in the nasal cavity as they may restrict airflow leading to exercise intolerance and other problems. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Marley
Bernese Mountain
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

sore nose
Tender to move

Growth in the crack between the dogs nostrils. Started out like a pebble in there. Then was growing outward and looked like a tick. Vet had no idea and has never seen anything like it. Not a tick. Is continuing to grow quite rapidly. It is black in color and triangular shape with the widest part attached to her nose. As it grows the newest part at the base is grey and turns black

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2513 Recommendations

Masses growing from the nasal planum or philtrum may be due to different types of tumours (basal cell carcinoma for example); I would recommend a fine needle aspirate to have have resulting contents examined by a Veterinary Pathologist. If there is still some doubt regarding the cause, a visit to a Specialist or your nearest Veterinary School may help. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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cassie
Retriever
10
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Eye Discharge

diagnosed nose tumour sadly cant afford surgery or treatment breaking my heart 10 year old retriever very good appetite bone deformation of head is there anything i can do for her any strong painkillers in case she suffering

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2513 Recommendations

Pain management for Cassie would need to be overseen by a prescribing Veterinarian; pain management is a delicate balance between administering enough but not too much so that side effects are decreased and there is room left for future increases as required. Rimadyl (carprofen) and Metacam / Loxicom (meloxicam) are the usual entry level NSAIDs that are prescribed; more effective medications like tramadol and gabapentin may be prescribed but at your Veterinarian’s discretion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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