SlimDoggy Health Check: Nose
We’ve covered the eyes and the ears, so naturally next up is the nose. At first I was uncertain about what types of diseases or problems dogs might have with their nose. We previously wrote about a dog’s wet nose and whether it was a sign of health – which of course is a myth, but what other ailments might affect the nose? You would be surprised.
Let’s talk about the nose a bit first. Dogs have two nostrils like humans that come together in the throat. The nostrils are filled with fine membranes (actually bone) called turbinates that are covered in pink tissue (mucusa). The turbinates filter and warm the air as it passes through the nostrils to the lungs. You can read more about the respiratory system of dogs here.
The most common condition of the nasal passages is rhinitis or inflammation of the mucus membranes within the nasal passages. Remember these membranes are a filtering mechanism, so it can be quite dangerous for the lungs if they are not functioning properly. Rhinitis is frequently a symptom or repercussion of other viral or bacterial infections. Canine distemper, Aspergillosis and canine parainfluenza are common culprits in creating rhinitis.
Lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis is a chronic condition with symptoms of sneezing and nasal discharge. Diagnosis can be tricky and is likely to be done with CT/MRI. Treatment can usually be handled with some anti-inflammatory medications or more typically, with steroids (prednisone). Early diagnosis is important in staving off the chronic aspect of this problem, so don’t hesitate to see your vet if your dog is sneezing constantly.
Allergic rhinitis: Dogs can also get allergic rhinitis, although much less frequently than humans. While the symptoms are similar to Lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis, upon lab examination, the mucus is quite different with different cells being inflamed. Treatment is typically attempted through controlling the environment and eliminating the allergic stimulants.
Cancer (neoplasia): Nasal tumors are fairly infrequent, but do occur. They may present in the nasal cavity or the sinuses. Interestingly, it has been found that dogs living in urban areas contract nasal cancers at a higher rate, presumably due to the higher level of pollutants in the air – including secondhand smoke. Symptoms include: bloody or mucusy discharge, facial deformity )due to tumor growth, facial deformity from bone erosion and subcutaneous extension of the tumor, sneezing, dyspnea (shortness of breath) or harsh noisy breathing or an abnormal protrusion of the eye. Treatment of nasal tumors can be tricky due to their location and proximity to the brain. Surgery can be attempted but without much success. Radiation is also an option, but again due to the location, impact to the surrounding tissue can be a danger. Life expectancy is fairly short due to the lack of treatment options.