Dog Runny Nose – Causes, Treatment and Care

Dog runny nose | VOSD Blog post

You will see many dogs with runny noses. A dog nasal discharge in itself may not be cause for concern as it could be as simple as excitement or nervousness. However, chronic discharge or a severe nasal discharge can be alarming as it indicates grave health problems. If your dog has a mild runny nose and is also sneezing, it can be treated lightly. If your dog displays a runny nose with a thick, yellow or green, and persistent discharge with pus or blood, the condition is to be taken seriously.

A runny nose implies that the discharge is watery and clear but may be characterized by thicker discharges with pus or blood. Any nasal discharge is related to the upper respiratory organs.

Symptoms of Runny Nose in Dogs

  • Nasal discharge
  • Puffy eyes
  • Reduced nasal respiration
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Secretions on the fur around the face
  • Bad breath
  • Deteriorating dental health

Causes of Runny Nose in Dogs

If your dog has a severe or chronic runny nose, the causes may include:

Allergies: Allergies are the most common cause for a runny nose, and a clear nasal discharge often follows it. Your dog may be allergic to pollen, certain foods, mites, or chemicals in the environment. Generally, a runny nose caused by allergies will be accompanied by sneezing, coughing, itching, and in some cases, nosebleeds and breathing difficulties.

Blockage: If the discharge is only from one of the nostrils, your dog could have something stuck in the other nostril. You will notice your dog sneezing and pawing the nose. This can also cause nosebleeds.

Infections: Nasal discharge with pus or blood could be caused by fungal, viral, or bacterial infections. The discharge will also be foul-smelling, and your dog will cough and have a nosebleed.

Polyps/ Tumours: If your dog’s nasal discharge has pus or blood, it indicated that there might be nasal tumours or overgrown glands that produce mucous, as in nasal polyps. Your dog will breathe noisily and show a bulge on the side of the nose. A loss of appetite will soon follow.

Nostril issues: Certain flat-faced dog breeds that have soft nose cartilage are prone to nasal discharge, indicating that they have nostril problems

Distemper: Distemper causes yellow, thick discharge and can lead to fever, pneumonia and convulsions.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever: If your dog is infected with a bacteria that is usually transmitted by ticks, your dog will have a runny nose with high fever, coughing, pain, and inflammation of the eyes.

Cleft Palate: If your dog has a cleft palate, a runny nose is inevitable, especially after eating.

Diagnosis of Runny Nose in Dogs

When you see severe nasal discharge in your dog, a visit to the Vet is imperative. Make sure that you carry your dog’s medical history along with a record of symptoms and their onset. The Vet will order tests that include rhinoscopy. Your dog will be under general anaesthesia for this procedure. A tube called an endoscope would be inserted to examine the nasal passages. The anaesthesia is used more to prevent your dog from sneezing the tube out during the exam. The endoscope has a small camera that allows the Vet to check for any abnormalities in the nasal passages. Additionally, the endoscope has tools that can remove foreign objects or pull out a sample if any growth needs to be examined.

As part of the diagnosis, a dental exam will be done to rule out poor dental health as the cause of runny nose. A sample of the nasal discharge will be examined for bacterial or fungal infections. Other routine tests include checking your dog’s blood pressure, blood coagulation profile, and complete blood count (CBC).

Treatment of Runny Nose in Dogs

The treatment for nasal discharge (dog runny nose treatment) will depend on the cause.

Allergies: It is not always easy to keep your dog away from allergy triggers. The Vet may recommend an allergy test or prescribe antihistamines, steroids, or immunosuppressants, depending on the allergies’ severity.

Blockage: If the object causing the blockage is easily visible and reachable, a pair of tweezers will do the trick. If you expect profuse nosebleeds and are wary of using tweezers at home, the Vet may sedate the dog to remove the object. Antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent infections.

Infection: If your dog suffers from chronic infections, surgery may be the best option. If your dog has a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be prescribed for a few weeks. A fungal infection will require anti-fungal medication.

Polyps/ Tumours: Polyps are generally treated with surgery, and since they have a tendency to reappear, further treatment may become necessary. In the case of benign tumours, surgery will suffice. If they are cancerous, radiation may be required since surgery may not always be successful. Unfortunately, in the case of cancerous nasal tumours, the prognosis is poor.

Nostril problems: If your dog has small nostrils or soft cartilages, the Vet will opt for surgery. However, the surgery will be delayed until your dog is an adult.

Distemper: Treatment will vary depending on the symptoms and may include antibiotics, anticonvulsants, and painkillers. It is possible to prevent distemper in your dogs by getting your pup vaccinated three times from the time they are eight weeks old and before they are sixteen weeks old. If you have a female dog, it is best to get her vaccinated several weeks before allowing her to mate.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever: The fever can be prevented by using the anti-tick treatment and keeping your dog protected from ticks. The treatment plan for Rocky Mountain spotted fever involves antibiotics for several weeks.

Recovery from Runny Nose in Dogs

Recovery will depend on the treatment given to your dog. You must follow the Vet’s instructions carefully and keep the scheduled appointments for monitoring your dog’s progress. Ensure that your dog has a clean and hygienic environment with access to clean water. You must also make sure that you are taking care of your dog’s dental health properly.

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The information contained in VOSD Vet Advice™ is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical action which is provided by your vet. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For any emergency situation related to a dog’s health, please visit the nearest veterinary clinic.
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