Growths such as polyps and tumours are common in the noses of older dogs. Although many of these growths can be benign or noncancerous, they still need to be checked out by a veterinarian. Many will have to be surgically removed whether or not they are cancerous because they may interfere with the dog’s breathing or eating.
Some breeds of dogs are far more susceptible to developing nasal polyps, although the cause is unknown, according to “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.” These breeds include the German shepherd, the keeshound, the basset hound, the Old English sheepdog, the Airedale terrier, the Scottish terrier and the German short-haired pointer. The Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference of 2001 adds golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers to the list, and notes that mixed-breed dogs can also get nasal tumours.
Some nasal tumours will stick right out of the nose and are easy to spot. Those that grow out of the nose are often benign. However, a dog can grow tumours higher up in his nasal cavities where they are not so easily seen. Symptoms of these tumours include sneezing more than usual, nosebleeds, the appearance of more nasal mucus than usual, breathing problems such as noisy breathing and loss of appetite.
Visit the Vet
Your dog may exhibit the same symptoms if she has a foreign object stuck up her nose, has suffered a bad injury to the nose or has a birth defect like a cleft palate. Regardless of the cause, you must visit your vet, as the dog may be in considerable pain and will have problems panting to stay cool in hot weather.
Older dogs are subject to a condition called hyperkeratosis, or callus of the nose. For unknown reasons, the nose’s skin peels and becomes dry, thick, cracked and tough to the touch. This can also cause symptoms similar to those of a nasal tumour. This condition is incurable but can be treated with dog-safe lotions, ointments, petroleum jelly and, to prevent infection from broken skin, antibiotics.
The dog may need to undergo an X-ray, nasal radiograph or MRI in order to locate the tumour. Most tumours will need to be surgically removed. If a biopsy shows the tumour to be cancerous, the dog may need to go on chemotherapy and radiation treatment after surgery to prevent the cancer from spreading.