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Nasal Discharge in Dogs

Nasal Discharge in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Nasal discharge in dogs, medically known as rhinorrhea, is a common issue that manifests independently or as a sign of health problems. Brachycephalic, flat-faced dog breeds are susceptible to developing drippy noses. 

A drippy nose develops when dogs regulate their body temperatures. Health conditions causing nasal discharge in dogs include allergies, infections (bacterial, viral, fungal), nasal mites, intranasal tumors or polyps, foreign objects, trauma, anatomical abnormalities, dental issues, and systemic illnesses. 

Telltale signs of nasal discharge include dog boogers, persistent sneezing, pawing at the nose, nasal congestion, reduced sense of smell, trouble breathing, loss of appetite, and lethargy. 

Treating a dog's runny nose for dog nasal discharge depends on the underlying cause and entails medications, endoscopy, or surgery. Supplements like CBD oil and probiotics indirectly help treat or prevent nasal discharge. 

Why is my Dogs Nose Running?

Your dog’s nose is running because it is irritated, inflamed, or infected. A runny nose is a typical response to sweating and a symptom of several local and systemic diseases. 

The medical term for dogs' runny noses is rhinorrhea, defined as abnormal nasal discharge of fluid or mucus. 

The nose anatomy in dogs results in unilateral discharge (affecting one nostril), bilateral (both nostrils), or changes in laterality as the condition progresses. 

An occasional drippy nose is harmless, but a dog runny nose and panting is a severe situation that requires veterinary attention. 

How common is Nasal Discharge in Dogs?

Nasal discharge in dogs is common. “Nasal discharge is a common complaint in companion animal practice, says Ryane E. Englar, DVM, DABVP, in the book Common Clinical Presentations in Dogs and Cats, published in Wiley Online Library in 2019. 

Discharge due to nasal infections is more widespread in brachycephalic dogs. Flat-faced dogs have a specific facial anatomy, making them uniquely prone to infections. 

Examples of brachycephalic breeds include Pugs, Boxers, French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, and Shih Tzus. 

Is Dog Boogers normal?

No, dog boogers are not normal. A clear nasal discharge is normal and healthy in dogs. Thin and watery discharge resolves itself and does not persist. 

Lingering discharge is problematic if it is yellow or green-colored. The discharge dries and forms boogers when present in excess amounts. Boogers in dogs indicate underlying nasal problems. 

What are the Causes of Nasal Discharge in Dogs?

The causes of nasal discharge in dogs are listed below. 

  • Body Temperature Regulation: Dogs do not sweat through their bodies but release a small amount of sweat from the paws and noses. Occasional clear discharge from the nose means the dog is trying to regulate its body temperature. 
  • Dog Allergies: Allergies are a common cause of nasal discharge. Dogs enjoy sniffing around and often inhale tiny environmental allergenic particles, such as pollen, mites, dust, dander, and feathers. Inhaling the particles leads to allergies in dogs.
  • Infections: Infections (bacterial, viral, or fungal) of the upper respiratory tract trigger nasal discharge in dogs. Respiratory tract infections are more common in unvaccinated puppies, elderly, and immune-compromized dogs.  
  • Nasal Mites: Nasal mites are microscopic mites that live in dogs' nasal passages and sinuses. Dogs get nasal mites from other infected dogs. Nasal mites cause irritation, reverse sneezing, and runny noses. 
  • Foreign Objects: Foreign objects lodged in the nasal passage cause constant irritation, followed by nasal discharge. Nationally, foreign bodies in dogs commonly include plant material (grass awns or fox tails), wood splinters, and plastic particles. 
  • Nasal Tumors or Polyps: Nasal tumors in dogs are rare, and malignant tumors are prevalent in older male dogs. Intranasal polyps are non-cancerous growths that occur in dogs of all ages. Tumors and polyps cause runny noses in dogs.  
  • Dental Disease: Infections of the teeth roots cause severe inflammation, triggering nasal swelling and discharge. The nasal discharge occurring due to a dental problem usually contains blood.
  • Trauma to the Nose: Traumatic injuries to the head and nose result in discharge. Trauma-related discharge is usually bloody or tainted with blood. Dogs are susceptible to injuries during play or zoomies. 
  • Anatomical Abnormalities: Certain anatomical abnormalities like cleft palate cause nasal discharge. Cleft palate is a common developmental condition in dogs that occurs when the roof of the mouth fails to close while the puppy is still in the womb. 
  • Systemic Diseases: Systemic conditions that are non-infectious and infectious cause nasal discharge in some cases. The most common example of a systematic disease is viral illness distemper, which affects the dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. 

Do Dogs Get Runny Nose from Stress?

No, dogs do not get a runny nose from stress. Nasal discharge is a disease symptom and is not directly linked to stress. 

Stress is linked with lowering the dog’s immune system, weakening its defenses.Prolonged and high levels of stress can weaken your dog’s immune system,states Charlotte Hacker, MS, PhD, in a “Stress in Dogs” report for dogcancer.com.   

A weak immune system increases the risk of upper respiratory infectious diseases that cause nasal discharge.

What are the Symptoms of Nasal Discharge in Dogs?

The symptoms of nasal discharge in dogs are listed below. 

  • Runny or Watery Discharge from the Nose: Runny or watery discharge is a telltale sign of allergy and transient nasal irritation. Watery discharge is problematic if it persists for more than a week. 
  • Discolored or Bloody Discharge: Discolored discharge indicates a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection accompanied by booger formation, while bloody discharge is linked to trauma and dental problems. 
  • Nasal Congestion or Blockage: Nasal congestion or blockage develops with excess discharge. Sharp, fast inhaling, heavy breathing, and snoring or whistling sounds are common in dogs with nasal congestion. 
  • Excessive Pawing at the Nose: Dogs with nasal discharge paw at their noses excessively. The pawing is the dog’s effort to eliminate the source of irritation and the nasal discharge. 
  • Persistent Sneezing: Sneezing accompanies a runny nose in dogs. Regular and reverse sneezing occur interchangeably and help the dog remove the source of irritation. 
  • Reduced Sense of Smell: The presence of nasal discharge and snots in the dog’s nose covers the smell receptors, resulting in a reduced sense of smell. The sense returns to normal once the discharge clears. 
  • Difficulty Breathing: Difficulty breathing occurs when the discharge is heavily present and spreads to the lower portions of the respiratory tract. A runny nose impairs breathing more intensely in brachycephalic dog breeds. 
  • Lethargy or Decreased Appetite: Low energy and reduced food interest are common in dogs with nasal discharge. The two signs are non-specific and associated with increased body temperature or fever. 

How do Veterinarians Diagnose a Dog's Nasal Discharge?

Veterinarians diagnose nasal discharge in dogs by taking a detailed history, considering clinical signs, and performing thorough physical examinations. 

The cornerstone of the runny nose diagnostic exam is rhinoscopy. Rhinoscopy is a useful technique” that “allows the clinician to examine the nasal cavity directly, according to a study, “Rhinoscopy in the Dog 2. Conditions Associated with Chronic Nasal Discharge,” published in the In Practice Journal in 2006. 

Rhinoscopy is a procedure in which the vet uses an endoscope to inspect the inside of the dog’s nasal passages, diagnosing infections, growths, and foreign objects. 

Rhinoscopy is the central diagnostic” and “is supported by CT and biopsy,according to a study on “Nasal Discharge in Dogs - Are Microbiological and Histopathological Examinations Clinically Useful?” published in Tierarztliche Praxis Kleintiere in 2019. 

A CT scan is required when chronic nasal discharge occurs, and a biopsy is performed if growth is inside the dog’s nose to determine whether it is benign or malignant. 

How can Vets diagnose Dog Nasal Discharge by color?

Vets can diagnose dog nasal discharge by color because different colors indicate specific conditions. 

For example, a dog runny nose clear with a thin and watery discharge means allergies, while a thicker, more mucous discharge points to inflammation. 

The “dog runny nose yellow discharge” and “dog has green snot” situations indicate a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of the upper respiratory tract. The discharge has an unpleasant odor in these cases. 

Red, bloody, or hemorrhagic nasal discharge indicates the dog suffered a traumatic injury to the nose or has a dental disease. 

How long does Nasal Discharge in Dogs last?

Nasal discharge in dogs lasts for a couple of days. The average duration of a runny nose is several days, with the exact timeframe depending on the underlying cause. 

For example, a runny nose lasts less than an hour due to body temperature regulation. Nasal discharge caused by complicated upper respiratory tract infection persists for a week or more. 

Nasal dripping triggered by non-seasonal allergies occurs in episodes lasting minutes to hours. 

Does Nasal Discharge in Dogs affect Dog's behavior?

Yes, nasal discharge in dogs affects dog’s behavior. A runny nose is a disease symptom, and the illness’ other symptoms influence the dog’s behavior. 

For example, a dog with a respiratory infection has a fever. Fever alters behavior and makes the dog lethargic and disinterested in everyday activities. Congestion and nasal discharge impair breathing in brachycephalic dog breeds, making them stressed and anxious. 

When to call a Veterinarian about a Runny Nose?

Call a veterinarian about runny nose in dogs if the discharge does not clear up in a few days or the dog is showing other worrisome signs. Problematic symptoms include fever, appetite loss, lethargy, and nasal swelling. 

Consult the vet if the discharge changes in character. Seek prompt help if the drippy nose develops bloody discharge. Head to the nearest emergency clinic if the discharge is severe enough to affect the dog’s breathing capacity. 

Are Snots coming out of Dogs a serious Nose Dog Problem?

Yes, snots coming out of dogs are a serious nose dog problem. Snots comprise mucus produced inside the nose, sinuses, and throat and contain water mixed with protein and salt. 

Mucus has a sticky or slimy consistency and traps harmful particles like germs and pollen. 

Snots form when mucus dries. Snots from a dog’s nose indicate increased mucus production, which leads to a more severe dog nose problem such as infections. 

What are the Treatments for Nasal Discharge in Dogs?

The treatments for nasal discharge in dogs are listed below. 

  • Cooling and Hydration: The treatment for dogs struggling to maintain normal body temperature in the heat is cooling and hydration. Move the dog to a cool indoor area and give it plenty of fresh drinking water. 
  • Allergy Control: Manage allergies with oral and injectable medications, like antihistamines and steroids, to treat allergy-triggered runny nose in dogs. Allergy shots and dog supplements like CBD and fish oil are viable holistic options. 
  • Antimicrobials: Antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals are prescribed to treat bacterial, viral, and fungal upper respiratory tract infections that cause runny nose. Give the antimicrobials according to the vet’s instructions. 
  • Antiparasitics: The vet prescribes antiparasitics to treat nasal mites in dogs. Ivermectin is the golden standard and is combined with antihistamines and corticosteroids in dogs with heavy infestations to relieve the symptoms. 
  • Endoscopy: Rhinoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in which the vet uses a small endoscope to remove lodged foreign objects and tumors in the dog’s nasal passages. The procedure is performed on anesthetized dogs. 
  • Surgical Procedures: Surgery is recommended to treat certain intranasal tumors, dental diseases, and severe fungal infections. Surgery is combined with chemotherapy or radiation to treat certain types of cancerous nasal tumors.   

How to Treat Nasal Discharge in Dogs at Home?

The tips on how to treat nasal discharge in dogs at home are listed below. 

  • Nose Hygiene: Keep the nasal area clean and discharge-free. Use a washcloth soaked in lukewarm water to dampen dry crusts and boogers before wiping them clean.  
  • Steam Therapy: Place the dog in the bathroom and let the hot water run through the shower to create steam. Inhaling steam helps dogs with nasal congestion. 
  • Hydration: Keep the dog hydrated to ensure a faster healing process. Add a drop of tuna juice or low-sodium chicken broth to the water to encourage drinking. 
  • Plenty of Rest: Let the dog rest to promote self-healing. Provide a heated bed for sleeping and let the heat help loosen the nasal congestion. 
  • Avoid Strong Smells: Do not expose the dog to strong smells, like cigarette smoke, perfumes, or scented candles. Intense odors are irritating and worsen the situation. 
  • No Medications: Never give dogs over-the-counter human flu/cold medications. Human medications contain active ingredients that are harmful to dogs. 

Does Dog Runny Nose stop on its own?

Yes, a dog's runny nose stops on its own in some cases. Dogs sweat through their noses and paw pads. 

A drippy nose on a physically active dog during high environmental temperatures ceases once the dog cools down and stops sweating. 

Mild and uncomplicated bacterial or viral infections resolve on their own. Severe infections and allergy-related runny noses are not self-limiting and require treatment. 

Can CBD Oil Treat Dog's Runny Nose?

No, CBD oil cannot treat a dog’s runny nose. CBD products are not a universal treatment for nasal discharge in dogs. 

The effectiveness of CBD for pets helps ease allergy-triggered runny noses. Dogs with non-seasonal allergies suffer from itching and congestion year-round. 

CBD modulates the immune system and provides allergy symptom relief when used responsibly and as directed by the veterinarian. 

How to Prevent Nasal Discharge on Dogs?

Stay up-to-date on vaccinations to prevent nasal discharge in dogs. Runny nose preventative care for dogs focuses on reducing the risk of upper respiratory tract infections. 

Several modern vaccines prevent viral respiratory diseases causing runny noses among the symptoms. 

Avoid enrolling dogs in crowded doggy daycares or boarding kennels during illness outbreaks. Be mindful of the dog’s playmates if they are not vaccinated. 

Keep dogs inside and do not allow them to interact with other pets for at least two weeks after the symptoms resolve to prevent diseases from spreading. 

Can Probiotics for Dogs Help Prevent Nasal Discharge?

Yes, probiotics for dogs help prevent nasal discharge in some cases. Probiotics reduce the risk of runny nose by boosting immunity. 

Probiotics enhance immune function, reports a study, “Gut Probiotics and Health of Dogs and Cats: Benefits, Applications, and Underlying Mechanisms,” issued in Microorganisms in 2023. 

A robust immune system aided by dogs probiotics is vital for fighting infections. A dog with robust immunity is less likely to contract kennel cough, which triggers nasal discharge.