Like humans, dogs are prone to a number of cancers throughout the body. Nasal tumors make up about 1 percent of all potentially cancerous growths in dogs. Although small and often hidden from sight, these tumors can be malignant and fatal if untreated. To keep your pet safe and comfortable, combine regular check-ups with your own observations to catch cancers early and improve the odds of treatment.
Recognizing Your Pet's Risk
Certain dogs are more prone to nasal cancer than others. Environmental factors like pollution combine with genetics to determine your pet's risk. As a general rule, dogs with particularly long or sensitive noses are more likely to experience irregular nasal growths. Boxers, for example, are less likely to develop nasal cancer than German Shepherds. Small or younger dogs are also less disposed to this type of cancer.
If you are still in contact with your dog's breeder, you may be able to learn about your dog's genetic likelihood of developing specific kinds of cancer. Otherwise, it's up to you to keep an eye on your pet's nasal health and recognize the signs that something is wrong. The sooner you suspect that your dog is not well, the sooner you can catch a spreading cancer and begin treatment.
Knowing What's Normal
Dog noses are sophisticated smelling tools. They do not have any particular 'ideal' state, but instead vary from dog to dog. Your dog may give cold, wet kisses or run a little warmer and drier. These are all normal, so long as they are normal for your pet. It's more important that you recognize your pet's nose's spectrum of health, as well as when it's deviated from the norm.
Identifying Symptoms of Canine Nasal Cancer
What, then, are the signs that something is actually wrong? Visible lumps are obvious, but symptoms often begin more subtly. A bloody nose is always cause for concern, as are any unfamiliar bumps or swelling. If you notice that your dog is panting and sneezing a lot, it may be a sign of a blockage in the nasal passage. These symptoms are not limited to cancers, meaning you'll need a diagnosis to be sure.
Your veterinarian can help you make the next step. Once less invasive options are ruled out, a biopsy of your pet's nasal tissue will reveal the presence, or lack, of carcinogenic tissues. If the results are positive, more extensive testing will gauge the cancer's spread and your dog's overall condition.
Seeking Early Treatment for Nasal Cancer in Dogs
With a diagnosis in hand, you can begin forming a plan for treatment with your veterinarian. The sensitive position of nasal tumors can make surgery difficult. It may require the partial removal of your dog's nose or sinus cavity. Assuming that the cancer has not traveled too far, surgery paired with radiation treatment can effectively halt its spread.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of nasal tumors, cases that are caught by the time symptoms are obvious have often metastasized into the other facial organs. At this point, there is little that can be done, and your veterinarian will likely recommend ways to keep your pet comfortable instead. Pain management methods can help your pet remain happy and functional for several months or more.
The quiet but creeping threat of nasal cancer in older dogs is one of many reasons why regular vet examinations are crucial for all pet owners. If you have noticed something off about your dog's sinuses or are simply overdue for a checkup, call our office today to schedule an appointment. A professional eye could be all it takes to spot a growing tumor and give your dog many more happy years with you.