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Nose Cancer in Dogs (Nasal Adenocarcinoma)

What is Nasal Adenocarcinoma in Dogs?

Nasal adenocarcinoma is the predominant form of nasal tumor detected in dogs. It can manifest anywhere within a dog’s nasal passage, encompassing the sinus region as well. Typically, nasal adenocarcinoma exhibits aggressive behavior within the nasal area, although it seldom metastasizes to other bodily regions. If metastasis does occur, it commonly affects nearby lymph nodes, lungs, and the brain. Studies indicate that dogs are twice as likely as cats to develop these tumors, with diagnoses typically occurring around the age of 10 years.


Dogs afflicted with nasal adenocarcinomas typically exhibit a runny nose as a primary symptom prior to diagnosis. This symptom, however, is common to various conditions, and the nasal discharge may alleviate with treatment, potentially delaying an accurate diagnosis. The discharge may vary in appearance, ranging from bloody to clear or resembling mucus, often emanating from one side of the nose initially. As the tumor progresses, bilateral discharge may occur, accompanied by sneezing or snoring sounds. With further growth, the tumor can distort the face and damage surrounding soft and bony tissues, potentially causing ocular protrusion. In rare instances of brain metastasis, changes in behavior, sudden blindness, or seizures may occur. Typical signs of nasal adenocarcinoma encompass chronic nasal discharge or bleeding, facial swelling, and sneezing. These symptoms may sometimes mirror those induced by allergies, fungal infections, or the presence of foreign materials lodged in the nasal passages.


While the exact cause of nasal adenocarcinoma remains unknown (idiopathic), certain risk factors have been identified. Exposure to tobacco smoke, kerosene, coal combustion, and other airborne pollutants is associated with increased risks. Dogs residing in urban areas, particularly those with elongated noses, are more prone to this cancer due to such exposures. Additionally, the use of flea sprays has been linked to the development of nasal tumors in dogs. Certain breeds demonstrate a predisposition to nasal adenocarcinoma, including Airedale Terriers, Poodles, Basset Hounds, Scottish Terriers, Collies, Sheepdogs, German Shorthair Pointers, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.


When nasal adenocarcinoma is suspected in a dog, veterinarians typically recommend CT scans and radiographs (x-rays) to confirm the presence of a tumor. CT scanning is usually the preferred diagnostic method to ascertain invasive nasal neoplasia. Subsequent to the scans, veterinarians conduct a tissue biopsy (histopathology) to determine the specific type of cancer. The biopsy involves extracting a sample from the nasal passage using surgical instruments. Additional x-rays may be performed to assess potential metastasis of the tumor to surrounding areas. Further diagnostic tests may involve sampling lymph nodes for examination.


Regrettably, nasal adenocarcinoma is typically diagnosed at an advanced stage, making complete tumor removal through surgery often unfeasible. The primary treatment approach involves radiation therapy, complemented by surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy may necessitate more than 20 sessions to reduce tumor size. Additionally, radiosurgery may be employed, targeting the tumor center with high-dose radiation to minimize damage to healthy tissue. The treatment regimen, whether a single dose or multiple smaller doses, depends on the specific characteristics of the dog’s tumor. While side effects are generally temporary and mild, pet owners may observe permanent alterations in their dog’s fur color, along with skin peeling or ulceration.

Living and Management

While nasal adenocarcinoma is seldom curable, radiation therapy holds the potential to induce remission of the disease. With this treatment, dogs can experience a satisfactory quality of life, with a survival rate extending to approximately 2 years or more. Post-treatment, some dogs may require plastic surgery to address facial tissue damage caused by therapy. Conversely, dogs not undergoing treatment for nasal adenocarcinoma typically have a life expectancy of about three to five months following diagnosis.

Nose Cancer in Dogs (Nasal Adenocarcinoma) FAQs

What is the average lifespan of a dog diagnosed with nasal adenocarcinoma?

Without intervention, dogs typically survive for about 3 to 5 months after being diagnosed with nasal adenocarcinoma.

Is nasal adenocarcinoma painful for dogs?

Yes, this cancer can cause significant discomfort for dogs, potentially impacting their ability to eat and breathe comfortably.

How aggressive is nasal adenocarcinoma in dogs?

Nasal adenocarcinoma displays extreme aggression at its site of occurrence but usually does not metastasize to other parts of the body.

Is nasal adenocarcinoma treatable?

While radiation therapy can shrink tumors and enhance the quality of life, nasal adenocarcinoma is seldom curable. Dogs undergoing appropriate treatment may survive close to 2 years, with some living longer. A dog that survives 4 to 5 years post-treatment may be considered cured.

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