What is Having a Runny Nose?

A runny nose is very common in all dogs and is usually not a sign of anything serious if it is just a clear discharge. If your dog does not have any other symptoms like lethargy and fever, you probably do not need to make a trip to the veterinarian. However, if your dog is suddenly sneezing and has a thick or discolored discharge, you should bring her to see her veterinary care provider. Some of the most common causes of a runny nose in dogs include:

  • Allergies
  • Foreign object in the nose
  • Infection
  • Nasal mites
  • Dental disease
  • Nasal cancer

Why Having a Runny Nose Occurs in Dogs


Although an allergy in dogs more commonly involves itchy skin, many dogs with allergies have a runny nose as well. If your dog has allergies, they can also show signs of itching, wheezing, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and even diarrhea. The most common allergies in dogs include:

  • Food
  • Grass
  • Ragweed
  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Flea bites

Foreign Object in the Nose

It may seem strange, but it is not uncommon for dogs to get things in their noses such as sticks, rocks, grass, wood, and even bugs. This is more common in dogs with long noses like Collies, Greyhounds, Dachshunds, and Afghans. In these cases, there would only be discharge from one side of the nose. Other signs to look for include bloody discharge, pawing at the nose, and whining.


There are many infections that can cause your dog to have a runny nose. Bacterial infections, viral infections, and fungal infections are all common in dogs of any age and breed. Other signs to look for include fever, sneezing, coughing, lethargy, and a general ill appearance.

Nasal Mites

Mites are common in dogs and can cause a runny nose in any breed, age, or sex. The mites that invade your dog’s nose are about 1 millimeter long, tiny but visible to the naked eye. Mites are contagious from dog to dog and the accompanying symptoms are nosebleeds, sneezing, rubbing nose, shaking head, high-pitched breathing, white or tan specks by the nostrils, and restlessness.

Dental Disease

Many types of dental disease in your dog can cause her nose to run. Some of the most often reported are gingivitis, periodontitis, and an abscessed tooth. To check your dog for dental disease, lift up her top lip and look at her teeth and gums. Open her mouth and check every tooth and look for redness and swelling.

Nasal Cancer

There are several types of nasal cancer that can cause a runny nose. Some of these include squamous cell carcinoma, osteosarcoma, adenocarcinoma, chondrosarcoma, and fibrosarcoma. Some other symptoms that occur with nasal cancer are a bloody nose, mucus or pus in the nose, breathing difficulty, seizures, pain, facial deformity, and discharge from eyes.

What to do if your Dog is Having a Runny Nose

For many cases of a runny nose, there is no need to see a veterinarian. However, if it seems abnormal to you or if she is acting different, you may want to have her checked out anyway. Also, if she has any signs of illness like fever, coughing, vomiting, wheezing, bloody nose, or a discolored discharge, you should take her to see her veterinary care provider. The veterinarian will need to do a physical examination and laboratory tests to rule out underlying conditions. In addition, x-rays may be needed to check for cancer or other abnormalities. An endoscopy may be needed to check for foreign objects.

Prevention of Having a Runny Nose

Visiting the veterinary care provider regularly (at least once a year) can prevent many illnesses and catch others before they become serious. Maintaining a regular vaccination schedule and having a routine urinalysis or fecal sample evaluation are other ways to keep your pet in optimum health. Also, if your dog has signs of illness or is acting abnormal, a trip to see the veterinarian is always a good idea.

Cost of Having a Runny Nose

The cost of treating a runny nose varies depending on the cause. Allergies can be an expensive condition to treat because it is sometimes difficult to find the allergen. Allergy tests can range from $200 to $1,000. The office visit and medications may be $200 to $500. Depending on what foreign object your dog has in her nose, treatment may range from $200 up to $5,000 if surgical removal is necessary. For an infection, an office visit, tests, and medication will cost about $200 to $300. The veterinarian may need to prescribe several different medications for some hard to treat infections.

The cost of getting rid of nasal mites is about $50 to $100 for an office visit and medication. Dental disease treatments can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the issue. Nasal cancer is an expensive condition no matter which type your dog has. The cost of treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy can be as much as $15,000.

Having a Runny Nose Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

4 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

My dog has a little bit of a runny nose and when she gets up from laying down she seems like her nose is stopped up and she tries to breathe hard through it but ends up sneezing. I don't know whether to take her to the vet or just let it run its course.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Causes for her to be doing that might be an infection, an allergy or irritant, or a problem with her nasal passages and sinuses. I'm not sure how long it has been going on, but if it hasn't resolved over a few days, it would probably be best to have her examined to make sure that everything is okay and that she doesn't need any treatment. I hope that all goes well for Chloe!

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2 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

My pup has a runny nose with a slightly Brown color on occasion. No real odor but I've noticed it on blankets after she gets up from sleeping. Should I be concerned? She is two and I adopted her a week ago from the local shelter. She was administered all current vaccines including bordatella.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
A slight runny nose can be just due to a change in environment, but if you are seeing a brown discharge from both nostrils you should visit a Veterinarian to check Roxy over and to get a course of antibiotics if they determine it is an infection. Infections, nasal parasites, foreign bodies and other issues may cause nasal discharge. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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