Runny Nose in Dogs

Written By Grace Park
Published: 09/30/2015Updated: 04/05/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Michele K.
Runny Nose in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Runny Nose?

A healthy dog may have a mild runny nose occasionally with no cause for alarm, but chronic or severe nasal discharge could indicate serious health issues. A mild runny nose is characterized by small amounts of watery discharge, may be accompanied by sneezing, and can be a sign of nervousness. However, a severe runny nose may persist with discharge that is thicker, a color other than clear, and may contain blood or pus. A runny nose is characterized by nasal discharge that may range from watery to thick and may contain blood or pus. Upper respiratory organs produce nasal discharge. It's important to remember that while sneezing and nasal discharge might be normal for dogs, it should be a concern if it becomes severe or chronic.

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 9 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$550

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Symptoms of Runny Nose in Dogs

  • Nasal discharge
  • Swollen or puffy eyes
  • Reduction in nasal respiration
  • Trouble breathing
  • Secretions on the fur of the dog’s face and/or arms
  • Deterioration in dental health
  • Bad breath

Types

  • Mild, or periodic, infrequent runny nose
  • Severe or chronic runny nose

Causes of Runny Nose in Dogs

Severe or chronic runny nose may be an indication of one of the following:

  • Allergies, an immune system reaction to your dog’s environment.
  • Foreign object in your dog’s nasal passages.
  • Bacterial or fungal infection of your dog’s sinuses.
  • Nasal mites, a parasitic infection of your dog’s sinuses.
  • Dental diseases, such as abscessed teeth, periodontitis and gingivitis, are bacterial infections that can spread into your dog’s nasal passages.
  • Nasal cancer, or nasal adenocarcinoma.

Diagnosis of Runny Nose in Dogs

Proper diagnosis depends on your reporting your dog’s signs to a veterinarian promptly. If possible, schedule an appointment within 24 hours. The full scope of tests that may be used to diagnose the cause of your dog’s runny nose might include labwork, xrays, or rhinoscopy, which involves putting your dog under general anesthetic and examining the nasal passages through the insertion of a tube called an endoscope. 

Additional tests may include a dental exam, if dental health is deemed a potential cause. The nasal discharge may be sampled and examined for fungal and bacterial components. Your dog’s blood pressure may be recorded, as well as a test to determine your dog’s blood coagulation profile.

Treatment of Runny Nose in Dogs

Treatment of runny nose in dogs varies depending upon the diagnosis.

  • Allergies require determination of the cause of the reaction: it may be seasonal, or something around your house that you can eliminate. Treatment ranges from elimination of the irritant, to antihistamines, steroids or other allergy medications.  
  • The veterinarian will remove any foreign objects and you will be advised on your dog’s recovery, which may involve an anti-inflammatory drug.
  • A bacterial infection will be treated with a prescription of antibiotics; the veterinarian may let a fungal infection try to clear on its own or may prescribe antifungals, depending on the severity.
  • Nasal mites are treated with anti-parasitic medications.
  • Dental diseases will need to be treated directly, through tooth cleaning and the possible removal of teeth under anesthesia.
  • Nasal cancer is by far the most serious cause of runny nose in dogs. Treatment may involve surgical removal of cancerous tumors, which can be very complicated due to the delicate structure of your dog’s nasal passages. Treatment may also include radiation therapy if diagnosed early.
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Recovery of Runny Nose in Dogs

As with causes and treatments, recovery and management of runny nose in dogs is varied. Follow through on all your veterinarian’s instructions, particularly in regards to medications, and follow up by monitoring your dog’s recovery. If discharge or sneezing continues, frequently clean your dog’s nasal passages by wiping with a soft cloth or tissue. Make sure your dog’s environment is clean, water is always available, and monitor and address your dog’s dental health regularly.

Runny Nose Average Cost

From 9 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$550

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Runny Nose Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pit Bull

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Three Years

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27 found this helpful

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27 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Noisy Breathing
Lucy's is not herself she usually very active her nose sounds contested after a reverse sneeze no other symptoms

Jan. 3, 2021

Answered by Dr. Sara O. DVM

27 Recommendations

Hello this could be an upper respiratory infection. It would be best for your bet to look at her. Your dog can have Benadryl. The dosage is 1mg/pound. If she is not better by tomorrow it would be best for your vet to see her. They would be able to prescribe her antibiotics

Jan. 3, 2021

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German Shepherd

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Eighteen Months

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17 found this helpful

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17 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Nose Dripping, Sneezing When Outside, Loss Of Appetite, Constantly Licking
She's usually very active but she's an extremely picky eater. She will leave her food for 2 days at a time. She has had the licking issue for a while, but now it seems worse. She is a nervous dog and has separation anxiety and I can't seem to get her out of this habit. In the last two weeks she's been sneezing when she goes outside and the dripping from her nose has gotten a little worse.

Sept. 29, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

17 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your description, I think it is possible that she has mild allergies, and that she may need some medication to help with her anxiety. There are many good anti-anxiety medications that dogs can take, that help with situations like that and make life a little bit better. I think it would be a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian, and talk about these problems so that they can help you and her. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 3, 2020

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Runny Nose Average Cost

From 9 quotes ranging from $300 - $3,000

Average Cost

$550

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