Save up to 40% off + 2X Points with code: CalmSummer

Apply Code
Nasal Inflammation (Rhinitis) in Dogs

Nasal Inflammation or Rhinitis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Nasal Inflammation or Rhinitis in dogs is inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose. Nasal inflammation is a common upper respiratory tract issue and a leading cause of nasal problems in dogs. Rhinitis in dogs is caused by bacterial or fungal infections, lymphoplasmacytic issues, dog allergies, viruses, and respiratory allergies in dogs.

Rhinitis is often accompanied by sinusitis or inflammation of the sinus lining. Nasal inflammation results in inadequate airflow and filtration in the mucous membranes and exposes the lower airway to dust and microorganisms, which increases the risk of nasal parasitic infection in dogs. Nasal dysplasia is different from nasal inflammation because it is a genetic disorder that results in physical malformation of the nose.

Dog blocked nose symptoms include nasal discharge, sneezing, pawing at the face, snoring, open-mouth breathing, and conjunctivitis. The treatment for rhinitis in dogs depends on the cause. Typical treatments include antibiotics, antivirals, antihistamines, steroids, and surgery. 

What is Dog Rhinitis?

Dog rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes in a dog. The nasal mucous membranes contain the initial filtration system that traps dust and pathogens before entering the lower airway. Rhinitis in dogs predisposes the dog to more serious nasal problems due to inadequate filtration, which increases lung exposure to pathogens and leads to nasal problems in dogsThe disease causes dog nasal congestion that narrows the air path, making it more difficult for the dog to breathe. Rhinitis is classified into bacterial and fungal rhinitis, lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis, and viral rhinitis. 

What Are the Symptoms of Rhinitis in Dogs?

The symptoms of rhinitis in dogs are persistent sneezing, nasal discharge, squinting, lacrimation or tears from the eyes, open-mouth breathing, snoring, and pawing at the face. A runny nose is one of the dog blocked nose symptoms commonly noted by owners. Allergic rhinitis affects the eyes, manifesting in conjunctivitis and lacrimation. Dogs breathe strenuously because the lumen of the nasal cavity is narrower. The dog tries to breathe through the mouth and snores when sleeping—dogs with rhinitis paw at their face to relieve the discomfort caused by inflammation.

How is Dog Rhinitis Different from Nasal Dysplasia?

Dog rhinitis is different from nasal dysplasia because dog rhinitis is an acquired condition, whereas nasal dysplasia is a congenital condition. Nasal dysplasia is a genetic disorder that results in physical malformation of the nose. Dog rhinitis is an inflammatory condition acquired through viral, bacterial, or allergic means. Dog rhinitis and nasal dysplasia have different causes, although they both affect the nose. Most diseases that cause dog rhinitis are contagious and treatable with medication and surgery. Nasal dysplasia in dogs is non-contagious, requiring management and possible surgical intervention when necessary. 

What Causes Chronic Rhinitis in Dogs?

The causes of chronic rhinitis in dogs are listed below.

  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial and fungal rhinitis is caused by the presence of a foreign body or loss of adequate filtration mechanisms of inspired air. Chronic rhinitis caused by bacterial or fungal infection is usually a secondary nasal problem caused by a prior condition. Kennel Cough or Infectious Tracheobronchitis are causes of bacterial forms of rhinitis.
  • Fungal infections: Fungal rhinitis is most commonly caused by Aspergillus fumigatus. The disease is contracted through inhalation of shed microscopic spores in the air. The signs of aspergillosis in dogs are nosebleeds and chronic nasal discharge with a strong odor that lasts for months and does not respond to antibiotics and other common therapies.
  • Lymphoplasmacytic: Lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis, or idiopathic lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis (LPR), is a common form of chronic, non-infectious rhinitis in dogs.  The cause of LPR in dogs is idiopathic, but has been linked to allergic and immune-mediated mechanisms or immune system response. The signs of LPR are very similar to other chronic nasal disorders and require histopathologic examination to confirm the diagnosis. 
  • Allergies: Allergic rhinitis is rhinitis triggered by an inhalant allergen. Allergens such as dust, pollen, cigarette smoke, and irritant gases trigger the immune response in some dogs. Signs of nasal mucosa inflammation include head shaking, sneezing, and nose rubbing. 
  • Viral infections: Viral infections are the number one cause of sudden rhinitis in dogs. Common contagious respiratory diseases in dogs include canine distemper, adenovirus types 1 and 2, and canine parainfluenza. Vaccination prevents most viral diseases that cause sudden rhinitis.

How Can I Identify Nasal Inflammation in My Dog?

You can identify nasal inflammation in your dog by checking for signs such as nasal discharge or a runny nose. Nasal inflammation indicators include a runny nose and evidence of strenuous breathing, such as open-mouth breathing, snoring, and sneezing. Dogs with rhinitis experience noticeable discomfort of the nose and exhibit behaviors like nose rubbing, frequent pawing at the face, and lethargy. 

Are Dog Allergies a Common Trigger for Rhinitis?

Yes, dog allergies are a common trigger for rhinitis. Allergic rhinitis is a leading cause of sudden rhinitis and sinusitis in dogs. Dogs  allergic to pollen have seasonal allergies associated with pollen production. Cigarette smoke, vehicle smoke, and aerosol products are other causes of inhalant dog allergies. Allergic rhinitis signs are oculonsal discharge or nose and eye discharge, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing. 

What Are the Treatment Options for Rhinitis in Dogs?

The treatment options for rhinitis in dogs are listed below. 

  • Antibiotics: Bacterial rhinitis is a common sequala or consequence of a foreign body in the nasal structure. The bacterial infection is treated with oral antibiotics such as cephalexin, clindamycin, amoxicillin or amoxicillin or clavulanic acid, and ciprofloxacin. Bordetella bronchiseptica is usually treated with supportive care, antibiotics, and antitussives.
  • Antifungals: Fungal rhinitis is most commonly caused by Aspergillus fumigatus. The disease is contracted through inhalation of shed microscopic spores in the air. The signs of aspergillosis in dogs are nosebleeds and chronic nasal discharge with a strong odor that lasts for months and does not respond to antibiotics and therapies. Infusion of 1% clotrimazole and 1% bifonazole into the nasal cavity is a highly effective treatment for aspergillosis. 
  • Antihistamines. Allergic rhinitis caused by inhaling allergens is treated with antihistamines. Medications such as diphenhydramine and chlorampheniramine calm the allergic response. Dogs with heavy respiratory malfunction are given emergency care with fluids, oxygen supplementation, and careful monitoring. 
  • Steroids: Dogs with idiopathic lymhphoplasmacytic rhinitis (LPR) are given anti-inflammatory treatment. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs such as meloxicam and steroids such as prednisone are prescribed when there are flare-ups. Immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporine are used as therapy for dogs with chronic LPR. 
  • Surgery: Dogs with nasal foreign bodies or infiltrative tumors are treated with surgical removal. A veterinarian must remove the foreign body or mass under general anesthesia. Underlying tissues and cellular components important in olfaction or smell are destroyed when foreign masses and tumors are untreated. 

Can Nasal Congestion in Dogs Lead to Breathing Difficulties?

Yes, nasal congestion in dogs leads to breathing difficulties. Air passes through the nose and through the nasal mucous membranes when dogs breathe. A dog has breathing difficulties when the inflamed mucous membranes caused by nasal congestion, narrow the diameter of the lumen for air to pass. The upper airway filters the inspired air from large dust particles and microbes. Dogs are predisposed to breathing difficulties and lower airway infection because nasal congestion affects air filtration and increases the risk of exposure to pathogens.

How Do I Manage Post-Nasal Drip in My Dog?

You manage post-nasal drip in your dog by consulting a veterinarian. Nasal inflammation and nasal discharge are common signs of rhinitis in dogs. The underlying cause of nasal inflammation varies from bacterial, fungal, viral, immune-mediated, and allergic sources. The veterinarian conducts a physical examination and laboratory tests to identify the trigger of nasal inflammation. The treatment and management plan is established once the cause is identified.  Ensure the dog is vaccinated and has no outside exposure until the vaccination plan is completed. 

What Are the Natural Remedies for Dog Rhinitis?

The natural remedies for dog rhinitis are listed below. 

  • Giving ginger-based supplements: Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Veterinary supplements that contain ginger are available over the counter for dogs with nasal and respiratory signs. Ginger is safe for dogs in moderation. 
  • Clean up the area: Allergic rhinitis is triggered by inhalant allergens. Clean the dog’s space frequently to minimize allergy triggers. Avoid smoking cigarettes, using cleaning products, and aerosol products with strong-smells around the dog.
  • Inhaling steam: Dogs relieve congestion caused by rhinitis when they inhale warm steam. The steam opens up the congested space by moisturizing the air and sinuses. The extra moisture thins out the congested mucus and clears the dog’s sinuses. 
  • Giving immune boosters: Immune-boosting supplements increase dogs' innate ability to fight infection. Products containing yeast beta-glucans, inositol, and colostrum help boost dog immunity. 
  • Nasal lavage: A nasal lavage is when salinified water is forcefully run through the sinuses to eliminate congested mucus. Saline sprays and nasal lavage kits for dogs are available over the counter. Nasal lavage is most effective when supervised by a veterinarian. 

How do you Differentiate Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs?

You differentiate rhinitis from sinusitis in dogs by comparing the amount and color of the mucus. Rhinitis is the inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, while sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses.  Itchy nose, sneezing, and lacrimation are early signs of rhinitis and sinusitis in dogs, but the mucus is slightly different in sinusitis. Persistent yellow or green nasal discharge in large amounts indicates sinusitis, while a clear nasal discharge usually indicates allergies.

Can Parasitic Infections Cause Rhinitis in Dogs?

Yes, parasitic infections cause rhinitis in dogs. The genus Cuterabra, or North American bot fly causes nasal parasitic infections in dogs. Dogs get the botfly parasitic infection when hunting rodents or rabbits. The dog sniffs the entrance to the rodent or rabbit burrow, and the botfly larvae attach to the dog’s head and nose. The botfly larvae travel into the nasal cavity, causing rhinitis. 

When Should I Consult a Veterinarian About My Dog's Nasal Problems?

You should consult a veterinarian about your dog’s nasal problems immediately after noticing them. Nasal problems in dogs have various causes, including bacteria, trauma, infection, and allergens. The veterinarian conducts the necessary examinations and tests that help formulate a treatment and management plan for the dog. Most nasal problems in dogs resolve well with prompt diagnosis and treatment. Chronic rhinitis is managed with a long-term treatment plan that includes antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids, depending on the underlying cause.