Rhinectomy in Dogs

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
My 8-year-old Labrador Retriever had a rhinectomy on due to squamous cell carcinoma. I am very worried about how he will adapt and if there are any particular things I should keep him from doing, like swimming. I would love to hear anything about this procedure.

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:

For a nasal squamous cell carcinoma in dogs, some form of adjuvant treatment is indicated, as surgery alone ("rhinectomy", also called "rhinotomy") is strictly a diagnostic and palliative procedure. The treatment of choice for tumors that have no evidence of metastasis is radiation therapy. If there is evidence of metastasis, or if radiation therapy is not an option, then chemotherapy should be considered. Another option might be the NSAID piroxicam (Feldene) depending on the dog's gastrointestinal and kidney status. Regardless, nasal squamous cell carcinoma can be an aggressive tumor, and while it can be controlled for some period of time, cure is unlikely.

Once a dog has recovered from a rhinectomy, which usually takes about two to three weeks, he can return to normal activities. Basically, he can do whatever he wants to do. For example, swimming is fine. The primary complication with this surgery is that the dog is prone to rhinitis/sinusitis, which means he will tend to have a runny nose and a fair amount of sneezing, and may require intermittent antibiotic therapy. Nosebleeds are not expected once a dog has recovered from this surgery. If a dog does get nosebleeds this may indicate tumor recurrence. Similarly, a significant worsening of nasal discharge, snorting/sneezing, or snoring at night might indicate recurrence as well.