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Runny Nose In Dog: Common Causes, Treatment, And Care

runny nose in dog

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Our canine buddies have far more smell receptors compared to us humans. In fact, we only have about 5 million in total, while dogs have a whopping 220 million. This is why even an issue as small as a runny nose in dog is something dog owners need to look after.

This is not to say that all nasal discharge is a bad thing. Sometimes, your dog just gets super excited once you get home after not being able to see even just for a few minutes or hours. However, a runny nose in dog can also mean a serious health problem that needs immediate attention of your dog’s vet.

What Are The Common Causes Of A Runny Nose In Dog?

For us humans, we often get a runny nose during the cold season. For dogs, it can be due to a number of symptoms – some far serious than the others. The following are the common reasons why dogs can experience nasal discharge.


Usually, a runny nose in dog signals that there is some kind of blockage in one of their nasal passages. The culprit could be anything – from small pieces of food, blade of grass, or even seeds getting stuck. If your dog has something blocked on their nose, you’ll usually find them sneezing and pawing at the area. Some dogs will also experience nosebleeds due to trauma caused by the foreign object.


Like us, canines can also have allergies that can cause a  runny nose in dog characterized by a clear nasal discharge. Some dogs can be allergic to pollens, dust, mites, foods, spores, human dander, and chemicals. In some cases, dogs also exhibit other symptoms such as nosebleeding, itchiness, coughing, breathing problems, and eye discharge.


If your dog’s nasal discharge seems to have the same appearance as that of pus, it could mean your dogs has some kind of infection. The cause can either be viral, bacterial, or fungal. Your dog may also experience coughing, nosebleeding, and some times, the discharge can have a bad odor.

Polyps or Tumors

When there is a runny nose in dog accompanied by ous, blood or mucus, this could mean your fur baby has a nasal tumor or a nasal polyp. This occurs when there is an overgrowth in the mucus-producing gland. Dogs often have a bulge on one side of their noses, breathes noisily and may exhibit a decrease in appetite.

Nostril Issues

Some breeds are more prone to experiencing runny nose in dog. Some of this includes dogs with floppy nose cartilages and flat-faced dogs.

Oral-Nasal Fistula or Cleft Palate

Dogs with a cleft palate or an oral-nasal fistula often exhibit nasal discharge after eating. An oral-nasal fistula a hole found between the mouth and nose caused by an injury, tooth decay, infection or surgery. Cleft Palates, on the other hand, occurs during gestation wherein the two sides of your fur baby’s palate didn’t fuse together.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

This is a bacterial disease dogs get from infected ticks. Dogs with this condition also experience pain, lethargy, coughing, high fever, and inflammed eyes.

Canine Distemper

This is a disease caused by a virus that usually attacks a dog’s nervous, gastrointestinal, and respiratory system. Not only is a canine distemper a contagious disease – but it is also one serious viral disease. Some of its symptoms include a yellow nasal discharge, twitching, fever, pneumonia, and even convulsions.

Treating The Cause Of Runny Nose In Dog

To treat a dog’s runny nose, you will have to determine the leading cause behind the condition. Taking your dog to the vet is the best way to pinpoint the reason behind the runny nose in dog. The following are what vets will usually recommend to help you with your dog’s nasal discharge problem.

When the cause is due to a foreign object stuck in their nose, you can remove this with a tweezer. Only do this with absolute care. However, if the object is too deep, you may need to take your dog to the vet. With the right tools, you can get rid of the blockage in no time. Your local vet may also need to sedate your dog if required just to dislodge the blockage and prevent further damages.

For dogs whose runny nose is caused by an allergy, the best way to manage this is to avoid the allergy trigger. Your vet can help you check what your dog is allergic to and prescribe medications to stop the runny nose.

If the cause is an infection, your dog will need the type of medication depending on the type of infection. For example, anti-fungal drugs for a fungal infection, antibiotics for bacterial infection, and surgery for chronic infections.

Dogs with nasal polyps may require surgery and additional treatment are usually necessary. For benign tumors, your vet may require surgery. However, for cancerous tumors, it can either by through surgery or radiation.

Dogs with nostril issues often undergo surgery, but only after the dog turns into an adult. Surgery is also the recommended treatment for dogs with a cleft palate or fistula.

If the cause of your dog’s runny nose is due to Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, vets will prescribe antibiotics. To prevent your dog from getting infected by ticks, use anti-tick products.

We manage dogs with distemper, depending on the symptoms. The best way to prevent distemper in canines is through vaccination. Your dog may need antibiotics, painkillers, anticonvulsants, or sedatives, depending on their symptoms.

Nosebleeds In Dogs

Dogs with a runny nose also often experience nosebleeds.  Here’s how you can try to stop your dog’s nose from bleeding.

  • keep yourself, and your dog calm
  • use a clean absorbent cloth to cover your dog’s nose
  • apply cold compress between your dog’s eye, above the nose
  • if the bleeding persists, call your vet

How To Care For Your Dog’s Nose

Know how your dog’s nose looks like when he’s healthy. Always keep an eye on your dog’s nose, and see if there are an unusual discharge. Also check for a crusty nose, one that is paler than usual and excessive dryness. Noses that flare more than usual can mean your dog is having difficulties of breathing.

Always voice out your concerns to your dog’s vet. He or she is the best person to talk to if you find anything unusual related to your dog’s health.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Internet.