Save up to 40% off + 2X Points with code: CalmSummer

Apply Code
Nasal Congenital Anomalies in Dogs

Nasal Congenital Anomalies in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Nasal congenital anomalies in dogs are hereditary birth defects of the nose. Congenital anomalies are influenced by complex genetic and environmental factors.

Certain breeds, such as Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks, are at a higher risk of being born with nasal defects.

Symptoms of nasal congential anomalies include trouble eating, poor growth, difficulty breathing, open-mouth breathing, choking, and facial deformities. 

Diagnosis nasal defects involves veterinary examination of the dog and the breed’s genetic disposition. Nose birth defects are rare, with more common types including cleft palate, deviated septum, choanal atresia, nasal dermoid, and brachycephalic airway syndrome. 

Certain defects co-exist, such as cleft lip dog cases being discovered at the same time as cleft palate. Stenotic nares due to brachycephaly and a minor cleft palate in puppy are hard to notice. 

Treatment of dog cleft palate or stenotic nares due to brachycephalic syndrome requires surgical correction. A successful clef palate dog reconstruction requires several surgical procedures and specific pre and postoperative care. 

What are Nasal Congenital Anomalies in Dogs?

Nasal congenital anomalies in dogs are inherited defects affecting the nose. The defects range from minor and aesthetic to severe and life-threatening, depending on the type.

The dog’s nose forms from a facial primordia called frontonasal prominence embryonic development. The frontonasal prominence is responsible for the nose formation, primary palate, and upper lip. 

Many cases of congenital anomalies of the nose affect the palate and lips. Some defects, like nasal dermoids, present independently, while others, such as brachycephaly, develop in combination with multiple issues, resulting in syndromes. 

Nasal congenital abnormalities are rare dog nose problems caused by complex genetic and environmental factors. 

How do Dogs get Nasal Congenital Anomalies?

Dogs get nasal congenital anomalies by acquiring them at birth. Genetic problems are the most common reason for congenital defects.

Puppies develop nasal congenital anomalies if one or both parents carry faulty genes. The genetic material affects the nose development during gestation. The result is nasal defects. 

How common are nasal congenital anomalies in dogs?

Nasal congenital anomalies in dogs are uncommon. The exact incidence is unknown due to minor nose defects being overlooked or left untreated. 

General congenital anomalies in dogs are rare. Congenital malformations can affect almost 7% of canine newborns, says a study, “The Most Common Congenital Malformations in Dogs: Literature Review and Practical Guide,” published in Research in Veterinary Science in 2024. 

The study explains that congenital abnormalities are increasing due to the extreme popularity of brachycephalic, flat-nosed breeds and commercial inbreeding. 

What are the types of Nasal Congenital Anomalies?

The types of nasal congenital abnormalities are listed below. 

  • Cleft Palate: Cleft palate is an abnormal opening in the roof of the mouth, resulting in eating difficulties and an increased risk of aspiration pneumonia. 
  • Deviated Nasal Septum: A deviated septum is a crooked development of the bone and cartilage dividing the nose that causes breathing difficulties and an affected sense of smell. 
  • Choanal Atresia: A very rare condition in which the dog’s nasal choanae are absent or abnormally narrow, causing stertorous breathing. 
  • Nasal Dermoids: Dermoid sinuses are non-compressible and firm masses occurring on the midline of the dog’s nose.
  • Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome: A severe set of upper airway anomalies, including abnormally narrow nares, resulting in breathing difficulties. 
  • Aplastic or Hypoplastic Conditions: Extremely rare anomalies in which the nose or its main structures are absent or underdeveloped. 
  • Hyperplastic or Duplications: A relatively common congenital abnormality where the nasal structures are over-developed or duplicated, like in a bifid nose. 

1. Cleft Palate

Cleft palate in dogs is a condition in which the roof of the mouth is open along its midline. The opening creates a direct connection between the oral and nasal cavities. 

The cleft palate is small or severe and affects the dog’s eating ability. A cleft palate occurs when the mouth roof fails to fuse during gestation and occurs alone or with a cleft nose or cleft lip. 

Cleft palate is common among breeds such as Dachshunds, Brittany Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers, Great Pyrenees, Shih Tzus, and Beagles. 

2. Deviated Nasal Septum

A deviated nasal septum is a rare condition in which the septum is crooked. The septum consists of bone and cartilage and divides the nasal cavity into two separate passages. 

One nasal passage in dogs with deviated nasal septum is larger than the other. The smaller passage blocks normal airflow. The deviated nasal septum causes trouble breathing and impairs the dog’s sense of smell. 

3. Choanal Atresia

Choanal atresia is an infrequent anomaly in which the choanae are incompletely canalized or underdeveloped. Choanae are the oval opening of the nasopharynx. 

Choanal atresia results in partially or completely blocked airflow. Nasal discharge, congestion, sneezing, stertor, and open-mouth breathing are telltale signs of choanal atresia. The congenital anomaly is observable in Shih Tzus.  

4. Nasal Dermoids

Nasal dermoids, known as nasal dermoid sinus cysts or NDSC, are non-compressible, firm, and non-pulsatile masses on the nose. Dermoids develop anywhere along the nasal midline and are reported in Rhodesian Ridgebacks. 

Dermoid sinuses do not affect the function of the nose but accumulate skin debris and are prone to infections. The treatment for nasal dermoids in dogs is surgery. 

5. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic airway syndrome is a set of complex upper airway anomalies caused by intentional interbreeding to create flat-faced dog breeds. 

The two brachycephalic anomalies directly related to the nose are stenotic nares and extended nasopharyngeal turbinates. Dogs with brachycephalic airway syndrome require reconstructive surgery. The condition impairs breathing and affects the dog’s quality of life. 

6. Aplastic or Hypoplastic Conditions

Aplastic or hypoplastic conditions are congenital anomalies in which the nasal structures are underdeveloped. The abnormality is extremely rare in dogs. Aplastic or hypoplastic nose is more frequent in human babies, which is considered a Down Syndrome attribute. 

Aplastic or hypoplastic conditions are asymptomatic or cause breathing or scent-sensing difficulties. The extent of the consequences depends on the severity of the underdevelopment. 

7. Hyperplastic or Duplications

Hyperplastic nose or duplication is an anomaly in which nasal structures are overly developed. Hyperplasia affecting the bone of the nasal turbinates is common, causes stertor and sneezing, and requires surgical correction. 

A bifid nose (a double nose or cleft nose) is a standard duplication example, and it coexists with other craniofacial defects. Hyperplastic nose or duplications do not cause breathing or sniffing problems, and are common in certain breeds, such as the Turkish Pointer. 

What is the cause of Nasal Congenital Anomalies?

The cause of nasal congenital anomalies is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Common environmental factors are nutrition, medication, and viruses. 

Excess levels of dietary vitamin A and lack of folic acid during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of defects. 

Certain medications, such as steroids, griseofulvin, anti-seizure drugs, and aspirin, occasionally trigger anomalies. 

Pregnant female dogs exposed to viral infections during pregnancy are likely to give birth to puppies with nasal congenital anomalies. 

Are nasal congenital anomalies hereditary in dogs?

Yes, nasal congenital anomalies are hereditary in dogs. The fact that certain nasal defects are prevalent among specific dog breeds confirms the genetic component. 

Some nasal anomalies are acquired. For example, dogs with acquired cleft palate are born without defects and later develop one. Trauma, foreign bodies, periodontal disease, and cancer cause the defect. 

How can Nasal Congenital Anomalies Affect Dogs?

Nasal congenital anomalies can affect dogs in esthetic, functional, and behavioral ways. The esthetic component is not critical, especially in pet dogs. 

The functional factor is present in the dog’s reduced ability to eat. Low food intake causes poor growth and development. Behavioral problems are seen in dogs with a reduced sense of smell due to nasal congenital anomalies. 

Do nasal anomalies impact a dog's sense of smell?

Yes, nasal anomalies impact a dog’s sense of smell. Certain nose birth defects reduce the ability to sniff and process scents. 

Aggressiveness towards unknown dogs and lack of sexual behavior towards females in heat are shown in a case report titled “Behavioural Disorder in a Dog with Congenital Agenesis of the Vomeronasal Organ and the Septum Pellucidum,” published in Vet Record in 2023. 

The case report includes an intact, 1.5-year-old mongrel dog with two defects, a bifid nose and a primary cleft palate. The study emphasizes the importance of the sense of scent in dog-to-dog interactions. 

What Are Nasal Congenital Anomalies in Dogs Symptoms?

The nasal congenital anomalies in dogs symptoms are listed below. 

  • Difficulty Eating: Newborn puppies with cleft palate or cleft lip and palate are unable to suck milk from the mother’s teet. Adult dogs have trouble eating. 
  • Stunted Growth: Challenges with food consumption lead to malnutrition, manifesting in stunted growth and inappropriate development. 
  • Frequent Choking: Choking is a frequently reported sign of nasal defects and occurs when milk or food chunks are accidentally inhaled. 
  • Respiratory Issues: Dogs with brachycephalic syndrome or stenotic nares have trouble breathing, especially when physically active and in hot weather. 
  • Open Mouth Breathing: Nasal congenital anomalies causing breathing problems make the dog pant heavily with an open mouth.
  • Facial Deformities: The facial deformity in dogs with nasal congenital anomalies is more or less pronounced and cosmetic. 

How are Nasal Congenital Anomalies Diagnosed?

Nasal congenital anomalies are diagnosed with a physical examination. Nasal defects are easily noticeable, especially in newborn puppies. 

Adult dogs are sedated during the physical examination in some cases to ensure a thorough inspection. Milder defects are overlooked unless the nose and mouth are properly checked. 

Diagnostic imaging procedures, like X-rays or advanced techniques, such as MRI or CT scans, help evaluate the extent of the defect and co-existing anomalies. 

What age are nasal congenital anomalies usually detected in dogs?

Nasal congenital anomalies are usually detected in dogs after birth. Pronounced nose deformities are noticeable. The veterinarian inspects the defects at the first checkup. 

Mild nasal congenital anomalies in dogs go undetected. Nose defects that do not impair function and do not cause behavioral problems are harder to determine. 

What are Treatments for Nasal Congenital Anomalies in Dogs?

The treatments for nasal congenital anomalies in dogs are listed below. 

  • Medication: Dogs with active and chronic infections, such as rhinitis or pneumonia, must be treated with antibiotics before the reconstructive surgery. The antibiotics are administered orally or intravenously. 
  • Plastic Surgery: Plastic or reconstructive surgery is the golden standard for nasal congenital anomalies in dogs. The surgical technique depends on the exact defect. Some dogs require more than one procedure to fix the anomaly. Reconstructive nose surgeries are done by board-certified veterinary surgeons or dentists. 
  • Supportive Care: Supportive care varies based on the nasal anomaly and includes pain control, tube feeding, cage rest, and oxygen supplementation. 

How do you Prevent Nasal Congenital Anomalies in your Dogs?

You prevent nasal congenital anomalies for your dogs through responsible breeding practices and adequate prenatal care. 

Responsible breeding means removing dogs with nasal congenital anomalies from breeding programs. Neutering and spaying are highly recommended. 

Prenatal care includes a healthy diet, disease prevention through vaccination, and regular vet checkups. Do not give dogs over-the-counter medications without consulting the veterinarian. 

Are Nasal Congenital Anomalies curable?

Yes, nasal congenital anomalies are curable. Surgery is the treatment of choice for treating nose birth defects in dogs. Some dogs with nasal anomalies require successive reconstructive surgeries. 

Dogs with chronic infections require management before the surgery. Supportive care is critical after the surgery to ensure successful treatment. 

Can CBD Oil Help Dogs Recover from Nasal Congenital Anomalies?

Yes, CBD oil can help dogs recover from nasal congenital anomalies. CBD, or cannabidiol, is not a cure for birth defects. 

Cannabidiol helps relieve pain and calm the dog during the postsurgical recovery period. Hemp-sourced CBD has strong analgesic and calming properties. 

CBD oil for dogs is a natural supplement fit for puppies and adult dogs of all breeds and sizes. Consult the vet to ensure safe and effective CBD use.  

What are the Long-Term Effects of Nasal Congenital Anomalies in Your Dogs?

The long-term effects of nasal congenital anomalies in your dogs are listed below. 

  • Stunted Growth: Puppies with nasal anomalies have trouble nursing and difficulty eating dog food because the nasal cavity is directly connected to the mouth. The physical inability to take food results in poor growth and development. 
  • Aspiration Pneumonia: Puppies and adults with congenital nasal defects are at a higher-than-average risk of accidentally inhaling food. Inhaled food particles that end up in the lungs sometimes lead to fatal aspiration pneumonia. 
  • Behavioral Problems: Dogs with nasal congenital anomalies sometimes have a faulty sense of smell. The sense of smell is critical for dogs and triggers behavior problems if impaired.  

Can Nasal Congenital Anomalies go away?

No, nasal congenital anomalies cannot go away. Birth defects in dogs are not time-restricted or self-resolving, so they do not heal naturally over time. 

Nasal defects generally require complex surgical procedures. Plastic and reconstructive surgery corrects the appearance and function of the abnormally developed nose. 

Stem cells, bone grafts, prostheses, and platelet-rich plasma injections are among the surgical strategies for dogs with nasal congenital anomalies.  

How to Prevent Nasal Problems in Dogs?

The instructions on how to prevent nasal problems in dogs are listed below. 

  • Breeding Selection: Dogs with congenital nasal defects must not be included in breeding programs. The best recommendation is to spay or neuter the dogs to minimize the risk of accidental breeding. 
  • Healthy Nutrition: Feed a high-quality, balanced, and healthy diet to dogs, especially during pregnancy. Consult a veterinarian if unsure what to feed. The vet recommends a diet and nutritional supplements in some cases. 
  • Responsible Medication Use: Never give dogs medications without the vet’s approval. Many human drugs are dangerous to dogs and harm fetal development in pregnant females. 
  • Vaccination: Dogs must be up-to-date on recommended vaccinations to minimize the risk of viral infections leading to congenital anomalies. 

What precautions should be taken for dogs with nasal anomalies during hot weather?

Take the precautions below for dogs with nasal anomalies during hot weather. 

  • Keep the Dog Inside: Keep the dog inside in an air-conditioned room on particularly hot days and only go outside when it needs to relieve itself.  
  • Ensure Water Access: Make sure the dog has constant access to fresh drinking water and keep a bottle of water on hand when the dog relieves itself. 
  • Make a Walking Schedule: Take the dog for daily walks early in the morning or late at night when the temperatures are more bearable. 
  • Use a Harness: Use a harness instead of a collar to avoid extra pressure on the neck, which adds to the breathing difficulty. 
  • Do Not Leave the Dog in the Car: Never leave dogs unattended in parked cars since heat buildup quickly in parked vehicles, even during low-temperature periods.  
  • Buy a Cooling Pad: Invest in a high-quality cooling pad to regulate the dog’s temperature. 

What Dog Breeds Are Prone to Nasal Congenital Anomalies?

The dog breeds prone to nasal congenital anomalies are listed below. 

  • Pugs: Pugs are a standard example of a brachycephalic breed with narrow nasal passages, commonly known as stenotic nares. 
  • Boxers and Bulldogs: Members of the Boxer and Bulldog family are prone to cleft palate and stenotic nares as part of the brachycephalic syndrome. 
  • Brittany Spaniels: Brittany Spaniels are at a higher-than-average risk of being born with a cleft palate, alone or with a cleft lip. 
  • Shih Tzu: Shih Tzu dogs often suffer from congenital choanal atresia, either unilateral or bilateral, and are at high risk of cleft palate anomalies.  
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback: Rhodesian Ridgebacks carry an autosomal dominant mutation predisposing breed members to nasal dermoids.  

Can Environmental Factors Impact Nose Health in Dogs?

Yes, environmental factors can impact nose health in dogs. Changes in air pressure and humidity damage the sensitive blood vessels in the nose, leading to nosebleeds or epistaxis. 

Hot temperatures increase the risk of heat strokes. Heat strokes are not a direct nasal problem but are prevalent in brachycephalic breeds. Dog heat strokes are life-threatening in certain cases. 

How Does Aging Affect the Olfactory System in Dogs?

Aging affects the olfactory system in dogs by weakening its effectiveness. The olfactory system in dogs consists of millions of receptor cells. The receptor cells are covered with sensory cilia. 

The number of receptor cells and sensory cilia decreases in aging dogs. Reduced smell sense is noticeable in dogs over 14 years old and striking over 17. 

When Should I Seek Veterinary Attention for My Dog's Nose Problems?

You should seek veterinary attention immediately for your dog’s nose problems. Congenital nose anomalies are apparent as soon as the puppy is born. 

Puppies with nasal birth defects require urgent vet care. Depending on the type of anomaly, they may require supplemental oxygen or tube feeding until they are old enough to be surgically treated.

The veterinarian carefully examines the puppy or dog and explains the best course of action based on individual needs.