When you see your dog’s nose running, especially in warm weather, it may be cause for alarm. Dogs really aren’t supposed to get stuffy or congested, and having a runny nose can be associated with more serious conditions like allergies, heart failure, and even distemper.
But it isn’t always something to worry about. Sometimes dogs just have a runny nose for no reason at all, and usually, the problem clears up on its own within a few days.
That being said, some causes of a dog’s runny nose are more serious than others, so it is important to know what different types of discharge can indicate.
This list may help you determine whether your dog’s runny nose is cause for concern, or if it is something that will clear up on its own.
1. Clear – Nothing wrong here; this type of nasal discharge can be a sign that the tissues lining the nose are irritated or inflamed, so try giving the dog some Benadryl or another over-the-counter antihistamine to see if the symptoms subside.
2. Yellow – This type of nasal discharge can be caused by allergies, parasites, heartworms, or foreign objects stuck in the nose. Make an appointment with your vet to get it checked out; it is probably nothing serious but better to be safe than sorry.
3. Green – If your dog’s nasal discharge turns green, it is likely caused by a bacterial infection such as kennel cough or pneumonia and should be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your vet.
4. Black – Put the black t-shirt away; this type of nasal discharge can be a sign of bleeding in the dog’s nose and should be examined by a vet immediately.
5. Foamy/Creamy/Tarry – This type of nasal discharge is usually associated with aspiration pneumonia, which occurs when the dog inhales foreign matter (in this case, saliva or other food particles) and aspirates it into the lungs.
If your dog’s nose is running, it probably isn’t serious, but why take the risk? Any nasal discharge other than clear or yellow should be examined by a vet as soon as possible to make sure it doesn’t turn into something more serious.
What causes runny dog noses?
When your dog’s nose is running it usually means there’s inflammation or irritation of the nasal tissues. This could be due to allergies, parasites, heartworms or foreign bodies in the nose. If your dog has a runny nose that doesn’t clear up after treatment for parasites and/or allergies, your vet might order tests to look for other causes like distemper or heartworm disease.
The most common causes of runny noses in dogs include:
• Allergies • Kennel cough/infectious tracheobronchitis • Distemper • Heartworm disease
There are some other conditions that could cause a dog’s nose to be running, but none of these are common. These include tumors, foreign bodies in the nose (grass awns or foxtails can become lodged inside), fractures of nasal bones, and septal hematomas. If your dog’s nose is bleeding rather than running, it could be due to polyps inside the nose or nosebleeds caused by high blood pressure (hypertension).
If you notice your dog gagging or drooling, make sure there’s nothing physically blocking their nose before assuming they have allergies. Some dogs are extra sensitive to allergies or get chronic yeast infections of the skin folds of their face that result in excess mucus production which can cause a runny nose. If this is the case, the mucus should be clear and not yellow or green.
You can try using a nasal saline rinse (1/4 tsp of non-iodized salt dissolved in 8 oz. of warm water) to flush the nasal passages if your pet allows it. If this doesn’t work, you can try using some baby or children’s non-medicated saline drops (available at most drugstores). Avoid using over-the-counter human decongestant nose drops as they can be toxic for dogs.
If your dog has allergies to pollens, grasses, molds or dust, they may always have a running nose when they’re exposed to these allergens.
While the problem is usually seasonal (running in spring and fall), some dogs will continue to have allergic symptoms year-round even when there is no pollen in the air. If you suspect your dog’s runny nose is caused by allergies, talk to your vet about allergy testing and treatment options.
Your vet may want to send a nasal discharge sample to the lab for evaluation if he/she suspects parasites or other infectious organisms, such as kennel cough or distemper. If pneumonia is suspected, fluid from the lungs will be taken for testing.
In conclusion, your dog’s nose is running for a variety of reasons. It could be allergies or it may just be the season and there are some other causes as well. If you notice that their runny nose doesn’t clear up after treatment for parasites and/or allergies, then visit with your vet to find out what might be going on. The most common cause of a dog’s nasal discharge would include Allergies (to pollens, grasses, molds, or dust), Kennel Cough/infectious tracheobronchitis (bacterial infection such as kennel cough or pneumonia), Distemper (a virus), and Heartworm disease (parasite). More than likely if your pet has any type of nasal discharge it will be due to allergies or just the season. However, there are other causes as well so if the problem persists you should contact your veterinarian.
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All content as is, no warranty. You can use the information provided on this website for research and education purposes only. Always check with your health care provider before making any changes to your dog’s diet or lifestyle. The author is not a vet and this article was not written by a vet.