Warning: If your dog has been pushing or rubbing his nose or face against things, or into things, for no apparent reason, have your pet examined by a veterinary neurologist. This new behavior can signal a brain tumor.
Noticed lately that your dog seems to be pushing his nose into things like his pillow or against stationary objects like stairs or heavy furniture? Or perhaps it seems more like the dog is rubbing his nose against things — not to sniff them out, but almost like a compulsion to just rub or push. It may also appear that your dog is pushing his face, not just the nose, against or into things (again, like his bed, or perhaps a bush outside).
My parents’ dog was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since then I have read up quite a bit about brain tumors in canines. I also wondered, in hindsight, if there had been earlier, more subtle signs of the brain tumor that at the time, we overlooked. It seemed that the symptoms of the brain tumor came on suddenly…
…The German shepherd went from always being normal to one day he didn’t want to play with one of us; this was highly abnormal because he always wanted to play ball. A few days later he was making gagging and retching sounds, and actually vomited. And he suddenly began restless circling around the kitchen island. A few days later he had a seizure.
But could there have been signs long before that very first symptom (not wanting to play) that we missed? Nobody missed the fact that the dog had suddenly started shoving or pushing his nose into his pillow — one of those large doggie pillows you see at pet supply stores.
The dog would keep pushing his nose into the edge of the pillow, making the pillow travel across the hardwood floor. We thought he had an unresolved itch. We also spotted the dog pushing his nose into the bottom stair of the staircase. Again, we thought he had a stubborn itch.
Something having to do with the dog’s nose was really annoying him. At one point we took him to the general veterinarian for a follow-up regarding an injured knee, and I mentioned the nose-rubbing behavior. The veterinarian simply grabbed the dog’s muzzle, felt around and visually inspected it and the gums, then said everything looked fine. We bought that.
When the dog was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few months later, I didn’t make the connection — until I saw the printed report by a veterinary neurologist: the diagnosis was a nasal caudal frontal mass. I also recalled the day before over the phone with the neurologist; he mentioned that the brain tumor was extended into the nasal cavity.
It hit me: That’s why our dog had been pushing his nose against the pillow and stairs! And perhaps that’s why he had suddenly taken an interest in rubbing his body up against the pine trees while he circled them — or maybe it was his nose, and it only seemed like his entire body? Those trees had been there since the nearly 9-year-old dog was a puppy, so why only at age 8 and a half was he suddenly interested in rubbing against the trees, the rubbing seemingly beginning at his nose?
After visiting some reputable Web sites about brain tumors in dogs, I am convinced that this nose rubbing and pushing behavior was the earliest symptom of the brain tumor. So if your dog has been doing any kind of pushing, rubbing or shoving with his nose against various objects, get your pet to a veterinary neurologist. Keep in mind that it’s normal for canines to nudge their nose against their food bowl before eating, but sudden nose rubbing or pushing elsewhere warrants a neurological exam.