Why Does My Dog Have a Runny Nose?

Why Does My Dog Have a Runny Nose?

Posted by volhard dog nutrition on Dec 19th 2023

When our canine companions get sniffles and runny noses, they can't simply grab a tissue.

How can you deal with a runny nose—or nasal discharge—in dogs if you do not know what is causing it?

Just like in humans, the condition may point to various causes, and figuring out what's going on requires some detective work.

Is the discharge coming from one nostril (unilateral) or both (bilateral)?

Is it thin and watery, or thick and mucus-like?

These clues will help you uncover what's bothering your furry friend!

In this article, we'll dive into the world of canine nasal discharge, exploring its causes and how to choose the proper remedy for your pup's runny nose.

The Role of Allergies in Your Dog's Runny Nose

Causes of allergies in dogs

Our four-legged friends are mainly prone to getting runny noses during allergy seasons—and yes, any dog may deal with allergies!

Think about it—the sniffles are bound to kick in when plants bloom in the spring or leaves fall and get moldy in autumn.

Furthermore, dogs are just as prone to environmental changes as we are.

They may react to all sorts of allergens, whether it's pesky fleas, something in their food, or common environmental triggers like dust, pollen, fungus, and mold.

And just like we deal with runny noses during allergy or cold seasons, dogs experience the same.

Whether it's a clear, watery discharge or something thicker and more colorful, dogs' symptoms aren't that different from what we experience!

The Two Types of Runny Noses in Dogs

Two types of runny noses in dogs

Mild, Infrequent Runny Nose

Mild nasal discharge occurs when your dog's nose gets runny without becoming a constant issue.

You may notice a small amount of clear discharge on a particularly windy day or when allergy season is in full swing.

A mild runny nose usually isn't a big deal.

As long as your dog seems happy, is eating well, and the runny nose isn't sticking around too long, it's nothing to worry about.

Severe or Chronic Nasal Discharge

Severe or chronic nasal discharge occurs when the runny nose doesn't seem to go away.

The discharge is thicker, colored, and slightly bloody.

Chronic nasal discharge is caused by infections, allergies, or more severe conditions like a nasal tumor.

If your dog has a chronic runny nose, you must get it checked out with your vet.

Inspect Your Dog's Nasal Discharge

Nasal discharge in dogs is a telling sign of what's going on with their health.

Thin, Watery, Odorless Discharge

A thin, watery, runny nose without any color or funky smell is a common sign of a minor irritation in your dog's nasal passages.

Such an irritation occurs during allergy season or when dogs sniff up irritants (for example, grass seeds).

Something as simple as an antihistamine will deal with clear, watery discharge without much fuss.

Your vet will recommend that you watch your dog at home.

Watch out for other symptoms, too, like a fever or behavioral changes.

If none show up, and your dog's eating well and seems perky, the nasal discharge shouldn't worry you too much.

However, if the discharge worsens, your vet must step in again to figure out what's really going on.

Thick, Discolored, Foul-Smelling Discharge

When a dog's runny nose takes a turn for the worse, and you start seeing thick, discolored, foul-smelling discharge with pus or blood, you've got to take things more seriously.

Think about your dog's recent activities.

Have they spent time in the company of other dogs—at a kennel, the dog park, the groomer, or doggy daycare? Your pup may have caught something from another dog with similar symptoms.

Checking your dog's vaccination status is also key.

Ensure your dog is up-to-date on their shots and hasn't had any recent run-ins with wild animals.

Keeping track of these details is paramount when determining the cause of your dog's runny nose.

Excessive Nasal Discharge in One versus Both Nostrils

The effect excessive nasal discharge has on your dog's nostrils speaks volumes to its cause.

When it only affects one nostril, a runny nose typically indicates a localized problem.

If, however, the discharge comes from both nostrils, you're dealing with a more widespread issue.

How to Deal with Unilateral Discharge

Discharge from one of your dog's nostrils—unilateral discharge—boils down to several reasons.

Maybe your dog has inhaled something they shouldn't have, like a blade of grass, leading to rhinitis or even a fungal infection.

There's also the chance of a more serious cause, like a nasal tumor.

In such cases, your vet will start by giving your pup a round of antibiotics to see if they clear things up.

If antibiotics don't do the trick, the next step is often a rhinoscopy—while your dog is asleep, the vet uses a tiny camera to peek inside the affected nostril and find out what's going on in there.

They might also take some samples during this procedure, either for culture or a biopsy.

Finally, if the cause of your dog's runny nose still isn't clear, a CT scan will provide a more precise diagnosis.

How to Deal with Bilateral Discharge

The first health issue bilateral discharge points to is a bacterial infection.

Dogs can easily pick up such infections, especially when interacting with other dogs, such as boarding kennels, dog parks, or grooming salons.

Canine influenza, for instance, is becoming more prevalent among dogs.

Symptoms of canine influenza

Along with a runny nose, symptoms of dog flu include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Lack of energy

Pneumonia may also develop as a complication.

Another common culprit behind runny noses in dogs is kennel cough, a bacterial infection that may lead to nasal discharge, particularly when turning into pneumonia.

These conditions are something to be aware of if your dog is constantly socializing in communal dog areas.

Sniff Out the Cause to Unravel the Mystery of Your Dog's Runny Nose!

Understanding the causes behind your dog's runny nose is key to ensuring they get the proper care.

Whether it's a minor irritation or something more serious, each symptom gives clues to the bigger picture of their health.

A runny nose can range from simply reacting to the environment to indicating a more significant health issue.

So, keeping an eye on your furry friend's sniffles and consulting with your vet when things seem out of the ordinary is always the right move.

For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! 

Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. 

If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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