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Can Dogs Get a Stuffy Nose?


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As humans, we constantly seem to battle ailments and illnesses. But does your dog also have to overcome many of the same conditions? One condition that puts a dampener on most humans’ day-to-day life is a stuffy nose. The stuffy nose often strikes at Christmas in the form of a cold, but also rears its ugly head in the summer in the form of hay fever or allergies.

Humans have to treat a stuffy nose with precaution though, as blocked noses contracted from colds are both very contagious and tedious to get rid of! But is your dog also susceptible to getting a blocked nose?

Can dogs get a stuffy nose?


Although a blocked nose feels like a human ailment, your dog can also contract a stuffy nose, and suffer all the same drawbacks that come with it. Humans may think that dogs don’t catch colds or can’t get hay fever, but it is absolutely possible for your dog to get a stuffy nose. This was conclusively shown in a journal article from The Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine.

How do I know if my dog has a stuffy nose?

The medical terms for a canine’s blocked nose are “rhinitis" and "sinusitis”. If you are worried your dog may be suffering from a blocked nose, there are some common symptoms to keep an eye out for.

Is your dog sneezing more frequently? Is there visible mucus discharge from the nose? Has your dog’s appetite decreased? All of these may be symptoms of a stuffy nose.

Several things can cause rhinitis and sinusitis. Dogs can get a blocked nose due to allergies. They can be allergic to dust, mites, mold, even grass! They could also be suffering from a bacterial or fungal infection in the nose.

One other cause to watch out for is botfly parasites. The larvae make their way through the mouth or nose of your dog. Less common, but also possible, is a stuffy nose as a result of tumors and cancerous glands in the nasal passage.

When you take your dog to the vet, they will undergo a physical examination to diagnose the cause of the stuffy nose. A dental exam, blood work, and sometimes even radiographs will be taken to rule out complications and to provide an accurate diagnosis.

To learn more about this condition, plus receive more detailed advice and guidance, visit our guide to Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs.

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How do I treat my dog's stuffy nose?

Fortunately, treating your dog’s blocked nose is relatively straightforward and full recovery can be expected in a fairly short time frame. 

Often the cause of the blocked nose will be an infection of some sort. Your vet will prescribe a course of antibiotics lasting for 10 to 21 days to tackle the problem. The dog will be fully recovered in 2-3 weeks, possibly less.

If your vet can ascertain the issue is the result of an allergy, they will isolate the allergy to identify it, then you will have to make some steps towards minimizing your dog’s contact with the guilty allergen. Your dog’s nasal passages will recover as soon as they are kept away from the allergen.

If the blocked nose is a result of an underlying problem, alternative medication will be prescribed. If it’s a tumor, surgery may be required. Full recovery from surgery could take several months.

So there are several treatment options for your dog’s blocked nose, all depending on the cause. Usually you can expect full recovery in just a few weeks. However, in more complicated cases, more serious treatment and a longer recovery time should be expected.

How is a stuffy nose in dogs similar to a stuffy nose in humans?

In some ways, there are many similarities in the symptoms and causes of blocked noses seen in both humans and dogs. Some of these are as follows:

  • Both humans and dogs can have mucus in their nasal passages.
  • Both can struggle to breathe through their nasal passages as a result of the blockage.
  • Both may feel tired, lethargic and down whilst suffering from a blocked nose.
  • Both can contract stuffy noses from bacterial infections.
  • Both are also susceptible to suffering from a blocked nose as a result of an allergy.
  • Plus, they can be allergic to the same allergens, e.g. dust, mites, pollen.

How are stuffy noses in dogs different from a stuffy nose in humans?

While there are many similarities in the way a blocked nose manifests itself in dogs and humans, there are also some distinct differences worth noting as well. Some of these differences are:

  • Dogs’ noses are more sensitive than humans, so lesser amounts of an allergen and fewer bacteria may have a greater impact on your dog's blocked nose.
  • Because dogs have wet noses naturally, it can be harder to distinguish between excessive mucus and natural wetness.
  • Humans suffer with blocked noses more as a result of negative, self-imposed factors, such as alcohol and cigarettes.

Case Study

An article called Canine Chronic Inflammatory Rhinitis, written by Dr. Rebecca C. Windsor, went a long way in investigating and highlighting the most effective antibiotics for treating rhinitis in dogs. In particular, Dr. Windsor noted the efficacy of doxycycline


or azithromycin, and illustrated the limited effect of the inhalant (but rarely oral) glucocorticoids.

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