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4 min read

Can Dogs Get Sinus Infections?


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In humans, a sinus infection can be the result of a common cold, allergies, smoke and other forms of air pollutions, even dental infections. In most cases, you can clear up your infection with decongestants and antihistamines. Your doctor may even recommend antibiotics.

You notice that your favorite four-legged friend seems to have a runny nose, watery eyes, and is sneezing a lot. The last time you looked, these symptoms are almost identical to those you suffered the last time you had a sinus infection. Could it be possible that your dog could also have a sinus infection? Is this something that dogs suffer from?

Can dogs get sinus infections?


Dogs are just as much subject to sinus infections as humans, if not more so. The symptoms of a sinus infection in dogs are very similar to those in humans and in many ways, so are the treatments. Humans also tend to get headaches and sore throats with a sinus infection so you might want to have your dog checked out by his vet since he can't tell you if his head or throat hurt.

Does my dog have sinus infection?

Your dog's sinuses are located in the nasal cavity. When the lining of the passages located in the nasal cavity become inflamed, your dog has a sinus infection. The symptoms of his sinus infection are very similar to those you experience when you have a sinus infection:

  • Runny nose

  • Watery eyes

  • Coughing and gagging

  • Sneezing

  • Occasional nose bleeds

  • Loss of appetite

  • Possibly a fever, headache and sore throat

There are several very common causes of a sinus infection in dogs, most of which mimic those that cause a sinus infection in humans. Most are directly related to environmental influences.  Among these are:

  • An upper respiratory infection

  • Exposure to allergens and other irritants

  • Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections

  • Insect bites or stings

  • Infections in the upper teeth

At first, it might seem as though your dog has caught a cold, but if the symptoms persist, you should take your dog in to see the vet. The vet will perform a thorough examination that should include checking his teeth and gums for ulcers, root abscesses, or any other abnormalities. He will also check his eyes and nose, listen to his chest, and he may order a series of chest x-rays in an attempt to determine the extent of your dog's infection and congestion.

For more information on canine sinus infections, please visit our guide to Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Dogs .

How do I treat my dog's sinus infection?

Depending on the extent of your dog's sinus infection, there are several treatment options available to his vet. One thing you should never do is to use over-the-counter medications intended to be used by humans. These products typically contain acetaminophen or naproxen that are known to be harmful to dogs. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics or antifungals, and if the infection is caused by tooth or gum issues, these will need to be dealt with appropriately.

You should keep your dog in a warm part of your home while he recovers. Be sure to complete the entire course of medications prescribed by his vet. You may also want to use a humidifier to help break up any mucus and make it easier for your dog to breathe. Be sure to have plenty of water on hand. The symptoms should clear up within two weeks and your dog's health return to normal.

To learn more about canine sinus infections and get advice from an in-house vet, visit Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Dogs .

If your dog is at risk of developing sinus infections, check out our pet insurance comparison tool. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like FIGO and Nationwide.

How are sinus infections similar in dogs and humans?

Like you might expect, the symptoms of sinus infections in humans and dogs are very similar. The biggest challenge as a pet parent is being able to tell the difference between a common cold and a sinus infection that needs medical treatment. Among the similarities are:

  • A runny nose with plenty of nasal discharge

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Coughing/gagging

  • Watery eyes

  • Share similar causes

  • Sore throat

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Loss of appetite

How are sinus infections different in dogs and humans?

Since the symptoms and causes of sinus infections in dogs and humans are virtually the same, you might not think there are many differences between the two. For the most part, this is true, but perhaps the most important differences lie in how it can be treated and the fact your dog cannot tell where he hurts. Other differences include:

  • You cannot use over-the-counter meds for your dog

  • Your dog may develop nose bleeds

  • Your dog may start reverse sneezing or inhaling in a gasp in an attempt to clear his sinuses of the mucus buildup. Humans typically do not do this, we blow our noses instead.

Case Study

First thing in the morning, like usual, you take your dog out for a walk so he can do his business. Everything seems normal until you get home and notice he seems to be sneezing and coughing a lot. Upon taking a closer look, you notice his nose seems to be running and his eyes are watery.

The nasal discharge is thick and almost pus-like. Worried, you take him in to see the vet, who performs a thorough examination of his nasal passages, his eyes, his throat, his lungs, and his heart. The results of this are that your pup has a sinus infection a lot like the one you had last month.

The vet tells you not to worry and gives you a prescription antibiotic. He tells you to take your dog home, keep him warm, and consider adding a vaporizer to the room he sleeps in. You follow the vet's instructions carefully and within a few days, he seems to be recovering nicely.

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