I recently received a SMC email. (That’s a “Save My Canine!” email!) The email indicated that this pet parent had a 9 year old dog with some swelling on the side of his nose. And, of course, like all of us who love our four-legged friends, she was concerned.

With good reason. Swellings and bumps are definitely things to worry about, especially in older dogs. Depending where the bump is on the nose helps figure out what’s going on. If the swelling is actually on the side of the muzzle, the first thing to think about would be dental disease. Rotten teeth and infected tooth roots can introduce infection to the sinus and can cause pain and swelling in older dogs. Carefully lifting up your dog’s lip can often provide an easy diagnosis. If the teeth are shiny, white, clean and there’s no swelling of the gums then most like this is not a dental issue. If the teeth are yellowed, stained, have brown or gray tartar, bleeding around the gums or swelling then that is definitely dental disease.

If the lump is on the tip of the nose, or the top, or associated with the nose leather, it can be a different problem altogether. This swelling may still be associated with teeth, but can also mean a fungal infection, or — scarier — a possible tumor. Tumor means swelling, it does not necessarily mean dangerous cancer, but it’s a possibility, therefore, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Sometimes x-rays, also called radiographs, will be required to diagnose the cause of the swelling.

Fungal infection is probably the hardest thing to diagnose. That will be a diagnosis based on environment, other pets in the household, and your veterinarian’s experience.

Regardless, swelling on the face is potentially very serious and a reason to visit your veterinarian. Furthermore, everything listed above is applicable to cats. Cats can experience very similar conditions and deserve the same great care as your older dog.

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