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Rhinoscopy, Scoping a Dog's Nose

Dog Seizures

If your vet suggested a rhinoscopy for your dog, there are likely good reasons for scoping your dog's nose. A rhinoscopy indeed can turn quite helpful in helping your vet figure out the source of your dog's problems. At this point, you may be wondering what exactly to expect from the procedure and perhaps you may also be wondering how much a dog rhinoscopy costs. The procedure is not invasive and can help pinpoint the issue, and best of all, in some cases, the problem may even be solved during the procedure.

dog nose

Scoping the Dog's Nose

Your vet may request a rhinoscopy so that he can take a look inside your dog's nose and detect any possible abnormalities. If your dog needs a rhinoscopy, most likely your dog is suffering from symptoms such as nasal congestion and discharge, sneezing, reverse sneezing, noisy breathing, rubbing and pawing at nose area, facial swelling /deformity and recurrent nose bleeds.

The rhinoscopy procedure can therefore help find if there's an underlying problem inside the nose that is causing these issues. For instance, the rhinoscopy can identify if there are any nasal polyps, tumors (sarcomas and carcinomas), foreign items (such as foxtails) or bone density changes. Even if a direct underlying cause is not found, a rhinoscopy at a minimum can help considerably narrow the list of possible causes.

Thanks to rhinoscopy, nowadays dogs can undergo this minimally invasive procedure rather than undergo invasive exploratory surgery as it was done in the past. And best of all, rhinoscopy has a 90 percent success rate in diagnosing nasal problems so the expense is often well worth it!

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"In a study in 1990, McCarthy and McDermaid stated that the use of the rhinoscopic technique as part of a complete and well-conducted diagnostic investigation can achieve a correct diagnosis in more than 90% of cases without the help of surgical inspection."~Journal of Veterinary Science

Dog Rhinoscope Procedure

dog stones

Prior to the procedure, the dog is positioned on his belly with a rolled-up towel under the neck. The vet will first check the dog's mouth, tonsils, soft palate and tongue.

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During the procedure, your vet will insert a thin, tube-like tool inside your dog's nose. The rhinoscope has a special light and lens that allows the vet to view the inside of the nose and detect any abnormalities. If your vet sees a foreign item or a mass, the rhinoscope has also tools that can remove any items that shouldn't be there or collect tissue or discharge for biopsy.

When it comes to rhinoscopy, there are two types of procedures, anterior rhinoscopy and posterior rhinoscopy. In the anterior rhinoscopy, as described above, a rigid tube is inserted up the dog's nose, whereas, in a posterior rhinoscopy, a flexible tube is passed though the dog's mouth so that the vet gets to visualize the back of the nasal cavity (nasopharynx).

Because no dog would sit still enough to allow a vet to insert a tube up the nose or through the mouth in an awake state, a rhinoscopy requires the dog to be put under general anesthesia. The anesthesia is also needed to suppress the dog's sneeze, cough and gag reflexes, and to prevent expensive equipment from being damaged. Sedation alone is not effective enough for this procedure considering how sensitive a dog's nose is.

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Waking Up From the Procedure

After rhinoscopy, your vet will likely want to keep your dog overnight so to minimize the chances for nose bleeds. A sedative after the procedure may be given to the dog so to minimize the chances for excessive head shaking and activity which can can lead to prolonged bleeding.

The bleeding from the nose after dog rhinoscopy typically lasts for 24 to 48 hours. Most vets will keep dogs anywhere from 12 to 24 hours at the clinic to ensure the bleeding is under control, but dogs may still sneeze with consequent bleeding for another day or two when in the owner's care, explains veterinarian Dr. Gary. 

To lower the chances for bleeding, it's important to keep the dog quiet inside a crate. Too much excitement leads to increased blood pressure which can trigger more bleeding. Applying slight pressure to the nose can help make the nose bleed stop. Consult with your vet if your dog's bleeding increases rather than decreasing or if you notice any other signs of trouble.

Dog Rhinoscopy Cost

Dog ACTH test costs

Dog ACTH test costs

How much does a dog rhinoscopy cost? Price may vary widely from one place to another, but on average expect a dog rhinoscopy to cost anywhere between $500 to $1,500. It's always a good idea to call around several vet clinics to get an estimate of costs. Receptionists are using to being asked pricing information and often can give quotes out from checking their price lists.


  • Clin Tech Small Anim Pract. 2006 May;21(2):60-3. Basics in canine and feline rhinoscopy. Elie M1, Sabo M.
  • McCarthy TC, McDermaid SL. Rhinoscopy. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 1990;20:1265–1290.
  • J Vet Sci. 2010 Sep; 11(3): 249–255. Published online 2010 Aug 17. doi: 10.4142/jvs.2010.11.3.249

    PMCID: PMC2924487 Clinical findings, rhinoscopy and histological evaluation of 54 dogs with chronic nasal disease. Marco Pietra, et al.

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