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Nasal Cancer in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Nasal Cancer in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Sinus Cancer in canines | Innovet Pet Products

As daunting as a nasal cancer diagnosis sounds, nasal cavity tumors are quite common in dogs. Cancer of the nose is less common in people, especially in comparison to dogs. 

There aren't many risk factors when it comes to sinus cancer in canines either. However, the one risk factor that pet owners should be aware of is long noses. There is also a correlation between nasal tumors and geriatric dogs.

Although not many risk factors are known, it's important to keep an eye out for any symptoms of sinus cancer in canines, even in dogs that don't have long noses. Speaking of sinus cancer symptoms, let’s take a look at the many clinical signs that might indicate your dog has sinus cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Cancer in Canines?

When you adopt a puppy and bring home the newest canine companion of your family, the dream is to raise your new friend in the healthiest and happiest ways. Unfortunately, there are certain conditions that dogs can come down with that threaten their overall being. 

One of these unfortunate interruptions of health is canine nasal cancer, this is a cancer in the cavity of the dog's nose. We hope that you never find yourself asking the question, "Does my dog have sinus cancer?" But if cancer of this kind is the diagnosis, don't lose all hope. 

Professionals are well equipped to handle cases of canine nasal cancer, and this is an important question to ask yourself because the best thing to do is be as proactive as possible. In order to be proactive about sinus cancer, you’ll need to know what to look out for and a physical examination can assist with that.

Some of the most prominent symptoms of nasal cancer include… 

nasal Cancer in canines | Innovet Pet Products
  • Chronic nasal discharge
  • Constantly sneezing 
  • Difficulty breathing when asleep 
  • Snoring more often and louder than usual 
  • Blood coming from the nose 
  • Facial irritation and obvious discomfort 
  • Changes in facial appearance 
  • Facial deformity 
  • Noisy breathing
  • Neurological issues such as seizures 
  • Nosebleeds that persist 
  • Misshapen nose and/or bulging eyeballs 
  • Itching or scratching their face 
  • Hard time catching their breath 
  • Frequent shortness of breath
  • Facial deformity

One of the most telling signs of cancer in the nasal passage of dogs is nasal discharge. At first, the nasal discharge might look like nothing more than a runny nose that goes away eventually, so you might not think anything of it at first. However, make a mental note to pay close attention to the nasal discharge. 

If you notice one or more of these side effects, reach out to your dog’s primary veterinarian as soon as possible, and explain the symptoms that you’re seeing. The longer these side effects of sinus cancer are allowed to persist without intervention, the more dangerous the situation will become for your dog. 

It’s important to note that none of these examples are a definite sign that your dog has nasal cancer, so keep that in mind if you notice that your dog is exhibiting these symptoms. They could be caused by something non-fatal or life-threatening, so try to stay calm and schedule an appointment with the vet. You’ll feel a lot better once the professionals have a look at the situation!

Is Nasal cancer in dogs painful?

Dogs with sinus cancer may suffer from pain and a loss of energy. The condition is typically diagnosed by examining the dog's nose for tumors, growths, or ulcers.

Sinus cancer in canines can be painful due to their lack of understanding of how to cope with such an illness; it affects them physically and mentally while also making them feel powerless. Dogs are usually diagnosed after examining the larynx which will show obvious signs that something is wrong (tumors, growths or ulcers) -- they have a tough time coping as well because they don't understand what's happening but this is common in veterinary medicine.

Nasal Cancer Tumor Types

Sinus cancer is often referred to more specifically as nasal lymphoma due to the exact location of the cancerous tumors that grow in the nose. Most often, the type of cancer that grows in the nasal cavity is either a sarcoma or a carcinoma. Let’s take a closer look at the few distinct differences between these two tumor types in most animals. 

dog nose cancer


When looking at sarcomas in general, medical professionals distinguish between two separate types of sarcomas. These two types are osteosarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. Essentially, the difference between the two is that soft tissue sarcomas are tumors that grow from within soft tissues, whereas osteosarcomas are denoted by cancerous cells that grow in the bones.

This often leads to bone erosion, especially when the sarcoma goes undetected over time. Sarcomas also pose a threat to the lymph nodes because the cancerous cells can infiltrate regional lymph nodes and spread to other parts of the body beyond the nose. When the cancer affects the lymph nodes, it is known as nasal lymphoma. 


Nasal carcinoma grows from the cells that make up the lining of the nose. Within the category of nasal carcinomas, there are three more specific tumor types, which include undifferentiated carcinoma, nasal adenocarcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Like all types of carcinomas, carcinomas in the nose of dogs form in the inner lining of the nasal passages . 

Nasal carcinomas make up a bigger percentage of sinus cancer in canines than sarcomas do. There are upwards of fifty different subtypes of canine carcinomas, so the exact type that your dog is sick with will be determined by the veterinarian upon completion of the proper diagnostic tests of tissue samples.

How Nasal Cancer is Diagnosed

Sinus Cancer in canines | Innovet Pet Products

CT scans are quite a popular tool for the definitive diagnosis of sinus cancer in dogs and cats. The images produced from a CT scan allow the veterinarian to highlight and emphasize parts of the image that basic X-rays cannot display. Essentially, a CT scan is a more detailed X-ray so these are a majorly helpful part of diagnosing sinus cancer in canines at early stages. The diagnostic process of canine nasal tumors typically starts with a physical exam and inside the nasal cavity. This allows the vet to take a fully inclusive look at all parts of your dog to see if symptoms of a cancerous nasal tumor are popping up beyond the nasal passages. 

From blood tests to a CT scan to an MRI, an abdominal ultrasound; some form of imaging is often ordered during the diagnosing process of canine nasal tumors as well. 

These imaging options expand the reach that vets can gather about a nasal tumor because they go beyond what the vets can see with their own eyes from outside of your dog's body. Imaging techniques and computerized treatment planning are able to offer a detailed and conclusive look inside your dog's nose cavity in a way that a physical exam can't provide. 

Additionally, one of the most vital tests that are beneficial for nasal tumors diagnosed is a biopsy. A tissue biopsy of the nasal tumor allows the vet to understand the makeup, severity, and intensity of the cancerous cells.

How Long Can dogs live with nasal cancer?

A dog's sense of smell is very important to their well-being. Canine nasal cancer can be a result of an infection or exposure to toxins that affect the nose and olfactory systems like ammonia, chlorine gas, formaldehyde, cigarette smoke or another foreign body. If your pet has been diagnosed with one of these conditions it may need surgery in order for them to live as normal a life as possible

Dogs have different lifespans depending on breed size which will vary from six years up into double digits if cared properly enough by owners but canine nasal cancer should not inhibit this process because dogs are still able use their mouths after surgical treatment

How to Treat Nasal Tumors in Canines

There are various treatment options for dogs with nasal cancer. The sooner treatment is received, the more likely it is that the dog will make a full recovery. The two most common types of treatment for nasal tumors are chemotherapy and radiation therapy. 

Chemotherapy for Nasal Tumors

Chemotherapy is a frequently implemented treatment option for dogs with this type of cancer. Unfortunately, due to how intense chemotherapy is, the medications often cause really negative side effects. 

Some of these side effects include nausea, vomiting, a decrease in hunger levels, and little to no appetite altogether. Dogs that receive chemotherapy also exhibit high levels of fatigue, rapid hair loss, a reduction in red blood cells, a greater risk of getting infections, and digestive problems, among many other discomforts. 

Even though the side effects of chemotherapy are difficult on the body, the potent medication has proven to be quite successful. Chemotherapy is often part of a two-part treatment plan, with radiation therapy following suit right behind chemo.

Radiation Therapy for Nasal Tumors

Radiation therapy typically follows chemotherapy because radiation therapy is designed to absolutely obliterate any cells in its wake. Even though this means that radiation therapy also kills healthy cells, the primary focus is that the cancerous cells are destroyed as well. Usually, radiation therapy is ordered in addition to chemotherapy when the nasal tumor is either already in a late stage of cancer or when the tumor grows.

The goal of radiation therapy is to not only get rid of the cancerous tumor but also prevent cancerous cells from growing back and forming yet another tumor in its place. The clinical term for cancer that grows back is neoplasia, so if a dog experiences a resurgence of nose cancer, it is referred to as nasal cavity neoplasia.

Radiation therapy is a powerful treatment option so it is not prescribed for all situations of canine tumors. It's often reserved for dogs that are facing more severe tumors than others. Radiation treatment emits strong energy that targets the cancer cells. Otherwise known as a radiation field, these energies combine both heat and lighting to kill cancerous cells that are posing a threat to your dog’s well-being. 

The radiation field that your dog is treated with will depend on how intensive the radiation therapy needs to be, as well as whether the radiation field is being implemented after chemotherapy or if it’s being administered as a singular treatment option. There are various degrees so the exact radiation field applied to your dog’s tumor will be specifically tailored to your dog. 

Median Survival Rate of Dogs with Nasal Tumors

The survival rate of dogs with nasal tumors depends fully on the size and intensity of the nasal tumor. On average, the median survival rate is approximately ninety-five days if treatment is not sought. 

That being said, the median survival rate changes ever so slightly depending on the type of treatment administered. For example, dogs that only receive radiation therapy as a treatment for their nasal tumor often survive for upwards of two years. Additionally, the seriousness of the symptoms can affect the median survival time as well.


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