Nose Tumors in Dogs

Written By Darlene Stott
Published: 04/25/2017Updated: 09/24/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Nose Tumors in Dogs - Signs, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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 signs 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

Signs may include:


  • 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 signs 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 veterinarian 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.

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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 weeks to 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 can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has a nose tumor or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

Nose Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals





Six Weeks


5 found this helpful


5 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
She has a white little bump on her nose what is it?

Dec. 29, 2020

Answered by Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

5 Recommendations

There are a few possibilities including a cyst, wart or scab. It doesn't look concerning but do monitor it to ensure it doesn't grow or become infected.

Dec. 29, 2020

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chihuahua mix



Six Years


4 found this helpful


4 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
She's had this little lump in her nose since she was small after they neutered her she was only 4 months i believe I can't quite remember but she is now currently 6 years only and my spouse noticed it was growing slowly and i am worried please get back to me

Oct. 12, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without being able to examine her, I have a difficult time letting you know if it is a worrisome lump or not. Lumps that are growing are always best to be checked out by a veterinarian, as we can touch them, look at them, take a sample if needed, and see what needs to be done, it anything. Since this has been there for so long, it may be nothing to worry about, but there may be treatment that can help. The initial cost of a veterinary visit will give you a lot of information about what the next steps are, so that you can plan for them. I hope that all goes well for her!

Oct. 12, 2020

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