Diseases of the nasopharyngeal region are often seen in many of the animals we treat. Some species and breeds are more prone to problems than others, such as long nosed or brachycephalic dogs and cats, as well as all animals living in dusty or dry surroundings.
Posted: 14 January 2020
Typically, chronic conditions of the nasal cavity tend to be noticed by their owners early in the disease process. They’ll be aware of sneezing, noisy breathing or a nasal discharge, all of which are the result of irritation and inflammation to the nasal mucosa.
With nasopharyngeal disease, you can get a significant amount of information from any discharge which is produced. Examine the quantity and appearance both grossly and microscopically. The frequency of sneezing and periods of discharge are also important.
This is usually produced with;
This is often present with;
As most nasopharyngeal conditions progress, the nature of the discharge becomes more distinct. When a thick, purulent and coloured (green/yellow) discharge is seen, you need to start considering a bacterial involvement, which is typically secondary to;
Most secondary bacterial infections tend to respond well to antibiotics, but the underlying condition needs to be found otherwise the infection will recur once the antibiotics are stopped.
The reality of these cases is that if the sneezing and discharge have been present for more than a few weeks, then you need to be persuasive and go for an aggressive investigation. The more information you have the more likely you are that you’ll get a diagnosis.
Some of the procedures you should consider include;
With an accurate diagnosis, you’ll be in a good position to discuss and offer treatment. Some of the options available include;
Surgery is not an option and if attempted, is unlikely to increase the animal’s quality of life or life expectancy.
The main problem with radiotherapy is that it’s expensive and usually requires a number of treatments over several weeks, where the animal will typically have to be anaesthetised. The owner will need to be dedicated and either have comprehensive insurance or deep pockets.
For most non-lymphoma nasal tumours, radiotherapy carries a variable prognosis of anything between a few months to a couple of years.
The aetiology of this condition is not fully understood. It’s known that the nasopharyngeal cavity develops recurring secondary infections, so the first approach is to use antibiotics. There is thought to be a response to allergens triggering the condition, so inhalant steroids are also used.
Grass seeds and soil are probably the most common foreign bodies in small animals, and in most cases, these can be removed during rhinoscopy by flushing. Use warm saline to flush, and make sure the back of the throat is packed to prevent inhalation into the trachea.
Aspergillosis is the most frequently diagnosed fungal infection and is usually identified in dogs. The most effective treatment involves the use of antifungals into the nasal cavity and sinuses. This needs to be done with the animal anaesthetised, and the antifungal needs to be left in place for around an hour during each treatment.
In all species, the affected tooth needs to be identified and removed.
Primary bacterial infections are not common, but secondary infections are. Common pathogens found include;
This is a common cause of a clear nasal discharge and is often the result of a reaction to benign household substances, such as perfumes, cleaners, washing powders and aerosols. You’ll need to take a detailed history and find a pattern of when the reaction occurs. The aim is to remove all access to the substance causing the rhinitis.